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  • Stanley

    Modern furniture that is less heavy and more casual is ideal for apartments and dorm rooms. Photo: Stanley Furniture

  • Stanley

    Inject color with furniture and accessories to further brighten your home away from home. Photo: Stanley Furniture

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Inject color with furniture and accessories to further brighten your home away from home. Photo: Stanley Furniture


Dorm Room Decorating Trick

Ever used staples to hang artwork or fabric? The easiest way to hide those shiny silver staples is with a permanent marker in the same color as the background.

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  • College Chic

    Focus on budget-friendly looks, storage and functionality for decorating your home away from home.

    by Des Keller

    We all know that decorating is rarely a priority during college years. Time is at a premium and budgets are often nonexistent. So we’ve done the work for you and gathered the best decorating ideas for creating amazing spaces—ones that make it easy to study in style or just kick back.


    Individual Style

    Everyone’s needs and desires are different, so take some time to figure out what works best for your college home. Some things to consider when decorating these small spaces:

    • Color You may not have options when it comes to wall colors in dorms or apartments but if you have a choice, use soft monochromatic colors. Dark colors make small spaces seem smaller. You can also inject color with furniture and accessories to further brighten your home away from home.
    • Moving on Up With space often at a premium, it is pretty common to see beds raised up as lofts, with desks and/or sofas, futons, and file cabinets underneath. If not lofted, you can still use the space under your bed for boxes and drawers that easily slide in and out. If there isn’t enough space underneath, several companies sell risers to lift your bed a bit higher.
    • Shine the Light But be sure you keep it a soft light spread evenly around the room using lamps and decorative ambient sources. Overhead light tends to be harsher to work by and has the effect of lowering the ceiling.
    • Go Modern “In a sense, modern furniture is less heavy, more casual, and the finish is lighter,” says Minoo Hersini of Au Ciel Design of Irvington, N.Y. “That helps create a more spacious and open functionality.” A small sofa or love seat with exposed legs, for instance, would be better than a large sofa with hidden legs.


    What’s In Storage?

    There are many ways to create spaces for books, CDs, papers, and even clothes. Better storage means fewer things cluttering your study and leisure spaces. The trick is to use them.

    • Closets Most closets and cabinets have enough unused space to hold twice as much stuff as you might think. Consider installing high and low hanging rods (rather than just one rod) to make use of under-utilized space. Or you may be able to create more space by simply moving existing shelves up or down. A rack hung on the inside of the door can handle shoes, belts, scarves, and toiletry kits.
    • More Space than You Realize Chances are there is always extra wall space somewhere. A pegboard hung in a utility closet or the kitchen can handle pots and pans, kitchen utensils, or even tools. Easy-to-install shelves, either decorative or utilitarian, are a great place for framed photos and other odds and ends.
    • What’s Inside Racks can be added inside kitchen cabinets to stack spices or canned goods. And under-cabinet shelves and drawers add nearly-hidden storage.
    • Double and Triple Duty A simple, attractive trunk is one the best pieces for a college abode, according to Hersini. “It’s a great piece of furniture. You can use it as a filing space for work and personal papers, CDs, and DVDs.” It can even contain out-of-season clothes and coats. “But then you throw some pillows on top of it and it becomes extra seating.” Likewise, a coffee table with shelves or drawers will make the most of limited space.


    When Options Are Limited

    In an apartment or dorm room you’re not always allowed to paint walls or install shelving. That doesn’t mean that form and function can’t triumph together.

    • Boxed In Choose a free-standing open shelving unit and fill it with several baskets or containers in one style—either the same color, material or shape. This gives you loads of storage while easing the strain on your closet and other cabinets and drawers.
    • Color Splashes Cheap and/or thrift-store artwork can de-institutionalize any room fast. Likewise, a hit of color from slipcovers, or pillows can negate the effect of lifeless wall colors. Designer Sheri Toth of Columbus, Ohio-based recommends hanging panels of fabric using a rod attached to a wall or the ceiling. “I’ve even used an electric stapler to attach fabric directly to the wall,” she says. The holes made are tiny and a permanent marker in a color similar to the fabric can be used to hide the staple itself.
    • Up Against The Wall Plain walls can be easily transformed with the new generation of peel and stick removable décor decals. From large cutouts of football heroes and movie stars to floral or geometric designs, or even a favorite quote—there’s a limitless selection of design choices available. The best news? They stick to the wall without fasteners or adhesive, and peel off and re-stick with ease. You can see examples online at websites like:,, and