Decorating a Fabulous Freshman Dorm Room

pretty gray and pink dorm roomHome Away From Home

Going back to school can be an exciting and anxious time of year. The start of the school year brings excitement of a fresh start with new friends, new classes, new responsibilities and a new living space! I am so happy to share with you how we transformed my daughter Chloe’s dorm room at Ithaca College from boring and bland to freshman fab. Let’s take a peak at her new HOME away from home. 

a freshman dorm room makeover in Hilliard Hall at Ithaca College College Decor

 Where do you start when decorating a dorm room? Dorm room decor has come a long way since I was in college. I had a few milk crates for storage, hung up a tapestry and called it a day.  Thinking back, I have had the best time designing all of Chloe’s rooms. Her college dorm room wasn’t going to be an exception.  Little did I know that I would have just as much fun as her shopping for college dorm decor. Here’s what we saw when we opened the door at Hilliard Hall. It was a far cry from her room at home. 

ithaca college dorm room makeoverFinding Your Look

The first thing I asked Chloe was “What look do you want to go for?  Bohemian? Preppy? Chloe and her roommate Sophie decided on a monochromatic theme. Gray, white, & gold  with pops of blush and turquoise for accents. We filled up just about three full carts at HomeGoods. We didn’t want to take away from the excitement of dorm room shopping for Sophie. There was plenty of FaceTiming and texting while shopping so that Sophie had an input on the design. Turquoise, pink and gold bedrooms are some of my favorite combinations!


closet spring curtain rod | closet white grommet curtains  |  Gray upholstered headboard | faux fur blankets | similar fur desk chair | sherpa desk chair | Twin XL 500 TC blush Sheets | similar blush and gray striped comforter set

Fuzzy blush pillows | storage ottomans | stylish collapsable hamper  | rolling cart |  small closet bins | under bed storage | shower caddy organizer |  dorm door letter board   

what to buy when shopping for a dorm roomDorm Tricks & Tips

Painting Dorm Room Walls

I have to be honest. When I first saw the room I thought how in the heck can I pull this off? There were restrictions with the Resident Housing Department. We couldn’t remove any of the furniture from the room or hang anything from the ceiling, nor nail or drill into the walls. However, we could paint the walls with an approved color.  BINGO!  First off was painting the hospital cream colored cinder block walls Sherwin Williams Reflection (SW7661). pretty bedding for a dorm room, gray and blush twin bedding

Twinkle Lights

There are so many battery operated twinkle strand lights in the stores and online for under $10. These thin lightweight strands make the perfect nightlights. They can be hung with Command Strips and serve dual purpose as a photo gallery. 

hanging twinkle picture light strands in a dorm roomDorm Room Bed Hacks

The beds looked like separated bunkbeds. There was nothing appealing about them and we certainly couldn’t paint them. LOL!  Let’s be honest, even though the girls had desks teens prefer studying sitting up in bed. They needed a sturdy headboard to lean up against. These dark gray linen tufted twin sized headboards would do the trick. Because we couldn’t screw them into the bed we attached them with several heavy duty zip ties on both sides and the headboard sat perfectly on top. For a bedskirt, I purchased a pair of inexpensive curtains and tucked them under the bed. So that they stayed at the right height we applied double stick tape and safety pinned them to the spring coils. 

tips and tricks to making a dorm room cozy Removable Wallpaper 

Does removable wallpaper work? YOU BET! The closets were a big massive maple slab. Removable wallpaper has been popping up on my Instagram feed for over a year now and it was the time to try it out myself.  Chloe feel in love with a gray speckle paper from Livette’s Wallpaper. Livette’s site is filled with papers in gorgeous patterns and colors. The gray speckle pattern gave the girls room an added touch of whimsy without getting too busy. In fact, it made the room visually larger with it’s white background. I have NEVER attempted to put up wallpaper and this was surprisingly easy!  I plugged in my square footage online and Livette’s send the the paper in long sheets. This is nothing like contact paper that you buy in the stores. This is thick, easy to remove and does not crease. I was hooked! Livette's bohemian girls grey speckle removable wallpaper

Accent Pillows

How many accent pillows are too much? Well, that’s a loaded question. When shopping at HomeGoods we bought more than I thought we’d need. I wanted the bed to be more like a sofa. As we assembled the bed with all the varying colors and textures Chloe and Sophie decided to keep them all! As a special gift to make the beds more personalized I purchased two gray monogrammed pillows from EmbroideryDesignUltd. The dark gray pops against the sea of blush pillows.  This was a last minute idea and Cindy’s Etsy shop sent them within a week. We added a plush gray bed lounger pillow to make sitting up easier! monogram initial accent pillow in gray, blush, pink and whitegorgeous dorm room decorating ideas

Baskets, Bins & Ottomans

Baskets and bins hold all of Chloe’s bulky sweaters, travel gear, and extra towels and bedding. Two gray upholstered tufted storage ottomans tuck neatly under this reclaimed wood and gold sofa table turned double nightstand, These lightweight ottoman are easy to move around and add more seating for visitors. 

decorating a dorm room with roommate

Two tall white lamps with pink watercolored shades were found in the clearance aisle of HomeGoods. Also on clearance was this sofa table. The reclaimed wood top and gold legs were perfect and the large drawers give the girls extra storage space for all their electronics and nighttime necessities. Any open bottom console or narrow table with drawers would work. using a sofa table as a night stand in a dorm room, creating a pretty vignette with a HomeGoods lampsharing the reclaimed wood and painted surface of a dorm room nightstandWe were ecstatic to fins Ithaca decor at HomeGoods. Chloe and Sophie are excited to explore Ithaca’s famous gorges. a painted ithaca is gorges sign from Homegoods with fresh flowers in a vintage vase

Closet Storage

We all know that teen girls have a lot of clothes. To make room for their new night stand we moved the dressers into the closet and added storage bins, shoe organizers, jewelry trays, make up containers and hooks to keep it all contained and organized. We added a simple spring rod and white grommet curtain panels keep all the clutter concealed. To see more of my favorite organizing finds head to my amazon Tools of the Trade page. 

 white and gray removable wallpaper from Livette's organizing your dorm room closet in style with decorative baskets and storage bins

Rolling Carts & Desk Essentials

To the left of Chloe’s desk a rolling cart serves as a coffee station with the cutest stacking mugs. We packed the drawers with snacks, toiletries, and hair and makeup products.  We added gold desk accessories and a pivoting lamp with a USB charging port. Just above on the shelf we stocked apothecary jars with gold lids and glass canisters with coffee, tea pods and macaroons for late night study sessions.

using sheer curtains with grommets and a simple spring rod to cover up a closet doorhow to et up a college dorm room desk area with a coffee station and snacksMaking studying comfortable at your desk in a college freshman dorm room. how to make a desk in a college dorm room work for many tasks making a freshman college dorm room pretty and functional We added the Safavieh Valencia rug in gray with pops of pastel colors

Cozy Carpets

I have been drooling over these sun-washed carpets for a long time. When we saw the Safavieh Valencia gray carpet I knew it was the final piece that would tie the whole room together. An 8 by 10 fit under the bed and made the space seem larger.  The pattern, colors, durability and ability to hide all the traffic made this purchase a “no brainer!“

an unclose look at the Safavieh Valencia rug in gray with pastel colors.Studying in Style

It took us just under two days to get the room together. They were ready! The girls on the floor all came in to see the room. The RA Jamie said “I am sure this room is going to be a place where all the girls hang out in.” 
decorating the perfect dorm room with gray pink and white and still having space to entertain and study I feel better sending my “baby” off on a new adventure knowing that she has some of the comforts of home.  Saying so long was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. I mean she never wanted to leave her bedroom at home!   Chloe’s been away for over a week now and we are counting the days to the next break when we all can be together again. I pretty sure she misses my mom’s home cooked meals the most! Thank goodness for texting and face timing. Love you Chloe Brown now go soar at Ithaca College! 

Ithaca college freshman in their sweatshirts holding up an ithaca is gorges wooden sign from HomeGoods

Pinning is Winning! Go ahead and pin your favorite images! 

all the little touches and decor that make a freshman door room cozy and inviting.

Sorority Living

Are you planning on living in a sorority next year? I have an amazing sorority room makeover that I did in just three days! 

How to decorate a dorm room and take it from drab to fab with decor and pictures from homeHigh School Send-off

I wanted to share this illustration from 3bearstudio that I commissioned for Chloe’s thank you cards. Just a few of her favorite things. Pittsford Sutherland Field Hockey, Ithaca College, Ice Cream from The Pittsford Farms Dairy and our beloved rescue dog Bo. Decorating her graduation cap was so much fun and the custom IC cookies from Wegmans went like hotcakes! going from Pittsford Sutherland Hight School graduation to a freshman at Ithaca College , decorating a graduation cap and grad cookie ideasa freshman dorm room makeover with before and after pictures

dorm room essentials list, checklist for going back to college

Download the Dorm Room Checklist.

Amazing photographs by Kristin Lynn Photography. 



12 Comments on Decorating a Fabulous Freshman Dorm Room

  1. Kristy
    August 29, 2019 at 2:32 pm (9 months ago)

    Amie! This room is so amazing… I wish I could go back to college and design my dorm room all over again, don’t you?!? Love the soft color palette – you are so talented!

    • memehillstudio
      August 31, 2019 at 5:18 pm (9 months ago)

      Thank you so much Kristy! Me too. We never really had much decor way back when! Hope you are enjoying the long weekend! xo

  2. Kimberly
    April 9, 2020 at 10:58 pm (2 months ago)

    What great transformation!
    Where did you get the study definition wall decal?

    • memehillstudio
      April 10, 2020 at 2:37 am (2 months ago)

      Hi Kimberly! I saw the quote online and custom made one to fit the soffit at It was very east to install. You can pick out your fonts, size, and color.

  3. katie
    April 25, 2020 at 12:18 am (1 month ago)

    what is the name of the rolling cart that you got? where can i get if from?

    • memehillstudio
      April 25, 2020 at 12:26 am (1 month ago)

      HI Katie There is a link for the cart in my tools fo the trade list. Here it is She stored all her snacks, cithcen stufff, toiletries, and so much more in there!

  4. Phil
    May 16, 2020 at 1:11 pm (2 weeks ago)

    Great job Amie on Chloe’s room. How long did it take you to paint before you rearranged?
    How much were all the materials approximately, from soup to nuts?
    My daughter will attend Ithaca in the fall. Would you consider helping out with her room, provided the students are allowed on campus this fall?

    • memehillstudio
      May 16, 2020 at 1:19 pm (2 weeks ago)

      Hi Phil-It took Chloe and myself about 2 hours to paint before we started setting up. The hardest was getting the paint in all the nooks and crannies of the cinder block. Just a gallon of paint and supplies cost us under $100. Congratulations on your daughter! If you do paint you will need to get the paint color approved by the Resident life office. I am praying that these kids get back on campus this Fall! Feel free to email me at [email protected]

      • Phil
        May 17, 2020 at 1:08 am (2 weeks ago)

        Thank you Amie. Sent you an email.

  5. Victoria
    May 26, 2020 at 8:15 pm (24 hours ago)

    What is that type of bed called ???

    • memehillstudio
      May 26, 2020 at 11:02 pm (21 hours ago)

      HI there Victoria- Its just a normal dorm room bead that has been elevated so that the students can store stuff underneath. Are you looking for the headboard? There is a link highlighted in the blog post.

      • Victoria
        May 27, 2020 at 8:12 pm (2 seconds ago)

        I wanna buy that bed for my room, do you know where can I buy it or what is it called??


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