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How to Set-up a Dorm Room for a Girl and a Boy

How to set up a functional and fun dorm space for a girl’s room and a boy’s room. 

Two more years Two more years! No. I’m not talking about the Presidential election. I’m talking about the number of years our 4th child has left for college. Four kids. Four years. 14 college moves and dorm set-ups. I’d like to think I’m an expert at setting up a dorm room to get the most out of a very small space. And there are different considerations for a boy’s room and a girl’s room. Even though moving is not the most enjoyable summer activity, I admit I’m feeling nostalgic and a bit weepy that it is ending soon. Setting up a college dorm room that combines both form and function can help create a comfortable and stylish living space. Below is some advice for setting up a dorm room and a couple of extra tips for a girl’s room and a boy’s room with some helpful links at the very end.  

General tips for a dorm room 

  • Optimize storage: Dorm rooms are often small, so make the most of the available space by using storage solutions like under-bed storage containers, hanging organizers, and collapsible bins. This will help keep your room organized and clutter-free. 
  • Maximize vertical space: Take advantage of the vertical space in your dorm room by using wall shelves, hooks, and over-the-door organizers. These can be used to store books, accessories, towels, and other items, freeing up valuable floor space. 
  • Utilize multifunctional furniture: Invest in furniture pieces that serve multiple purposes. For example, choose a futon or a daybed that can function as both seating and a bed, or a desk with built-in shelves or drawers. 
  • Create a study zone: College involves a lot of studying (or is supposed to), so designate an area for focused work. Set up a desk or a study corner with proper lighting, a comfortable chair, and organizational tools like a desk caddy or file holders to keep your study materials within reach. 
  • Add personal touches: Make your dorm room feel like home by adding personal touches and decorations. Hang up posters, artwork, or photographs that reflect your personality and interests. Use colorful bedding, throw pillows, or rugs to add pops of color and create a cozy atmosphere. 
  • Enhance lighting: Dorm rooms often have fluorescent overhead lighting, which can be harsh. Add floor or desk lamps with soft, warm lighting to create a more inviting and comfortable ambiance. Consider using string lights or fairy lights to add a touch of coziness. 
  • Use removable wall decals or wallpaper: If your dorm allows it, use removable wall decals or wallpaper to add style and visual interest to your space. This can instantly transform a plain wall and give your room a personalized touch. Just make sure to check your dorm's policies on wall decorations beforehand. 
  • Coordinate colors and patterns: Choose a color scheme or theme that ties your room together. Consider coordinating your bedding, curtains, rugs, and other accessories to create a cohesive and visually appealing look. Be mindful of colors and patterns that promote a sense of calm and relaxation. 
  • Incorporate functional décor: Look for décor items that not only add aesthetic appeal but also serve a purpose. For example, decorative storage boxes can be used to store small items, while a wall-mounted whiteboard or corkboard can serve as a message board or a place to display reminders and inspiration. 
  • Prioritize comfort: Lastly, focus on making your dorm room comfortable. Invest in a quality mattress topper for your bed, bring along cozy blankets and pillows, and consider adding a small seating area with a comfortable chair or bean bag. Remember, a comfortable space will enhance your overall well-being. 

Some specific considerations for a girl's dorm room 

When setting up my girls’ dorm rooms compared to my boys’ dorm rooms, there were some specific considerations based on individual preferences and needs. Here are a few general points to keep in mind: 

  • Color palette: Girls often lean towards a wider range of colors, including pastels, neutrals, or vibrant hues. Consider incorporating colors like pink, purple, teal, or other shades that align with their personal preferences. 
  • Soft and cozy elements: Girls might prefer a softer and cozier ambiance in their dorm room. Incorporate plush rugs, comfortable throw pillows, soft bedding, and curtains to create a cozy and inviting atmosphere. 
  • Organizational solutions: Girls may have more accessories and personal items, so storage and organization are essential. Include storage solutions for jewelry, makeup, hair tools, and clothing items. Use drawer organizers, hanging organizers, and decorative storage boxes to keep belongings tidy and easily accessible. 
  • Vanity area: Girls often appreciate having a designated vanity area for getting ready. Set up a mirror, proper lighting, and a small table or desk for applying makeup, styling hair, and storing beauty products. 
  • Feminine touches: Girls may enjoy adding feminine touches to their dorm room decor. Incorporate elements like floral patterns, delicate artwork, decorative wall decals, or string lights to create a feminine and visually appealing environment. 
  • Fashion and accessories display: Girls might have a larger collection of fashion items and accessories. Consider incorporating a clothing rack, hooks, or a display area to showcase favorite clothing pieces, handbags, or jewelry. 
  • Inspirational quotes or artwork: Girls may appreciate motivational or inspirational quotes displayed on the walls or framed artwork that reflects their interests and aspirations. This can create a positive and uplifting environment. 

Some specific considerations for a boy's dorm room  

When setting up my boys’ dorm rooms compared to my girls’ dorm room, there were some differences. Here are a few general points to keep in mind: 

  • Color palette: Boys might prefer a color scheme that leans towards neutral or bold colors, such as shades of blue, green, gray, or earth tones. However, it's important to remember that color preferences are subjective, and individuals may have their own unique tastes. 
  • Functional layout: Boys may prioritize functionality and efficiency in their room layout. Consider creating designated areas for studying, gaming, relaxing, and socializing. Arrange furniture in a way that optimizes workflow and facilitates easy movement within the space. 
  • Sports or hobbies: Boys often have specific interests in sports or hobbies that can be reflected in their dorm room décor. Incorporate elements related to their favorite sports team, athletic equipment, or any other hobbies they may have. This can add a personal touch and create a space that resonates with their interests. 
  • Minimalistic design: Boys may lean towards a more minimalistic design aesthetic, focusing on clean lines, simplicity, and practicality. Consider using streamlined furniture and keeping the overall décor straightforward and clutter-free. 
  • Tech integration: Boys may have a greater inclination towards incorporating technology in their dorm room. Ensure the room has adequate outlets and charging stations for electronics and consider cable management solutions to keep cords organized. 
  • Storage for specific items: Boys might have different storage needs compared to girls. Consider providing ample storage for items like sports gear, electronics, gaming consoles, or musical instruments. 

Here are a few links to some of the items mentioned above: 

3 Tier Rolling Cart 

Fridge Cart 

Shoe Storage 

Charging Station Rolling Cart 

Also, Dormify and The Container Store have some teamed up and created a Pop-up StoreM Design also has some great college products. 

These considerations are generalizations, and it's important to take into account an individual's personal preferences, interests, and style when setting up any dorm room, regardless of gender. Each person has their unique tastes and preferences, so creating a space that reflects their personality and supports their needs is key to setting up a comfortable and functional dorm room.