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Dorm Decor Trends 2012

The standard dorm room: a claustrophobic arrangement of mass-produced furniture crammed between four cinderblock walls. It’s not exactly the kind of digs that inspire feelings of comfort and home. Fear not freshmen, we spoke with a couple of design experts who can help you turn your boring dorm room into a stylish and cozy temporary home.

Joint Decisions

One of the biggest challenges in planning dorm room décor is collaborating with a roommate, especially if it’s someone you have never met before. Maybe you’re more into a modern clean design, while she likes a romantic vintage style. Don’t worry; you can easily make two styles look blended, if you focus on a specific color.

 “Take that color and style it to your own preference on your side of the room. Your room will end up being cohesive, but will still express both of your unique tastes,” says Laura Neroulias, who represents Dormify, a fashion-forward company that provides students with chic design options, accessories, bedding, and more for their dorm room. They also provide innovative styling advice on their blog.

“There is no need to match your items exactly, just work together on color,” suggests Michele Boggs, owner of MB Designs and instructor at The Art Institute of Indianapolis.  “Creating your own unique, yet comfortable space is more important.

Design Trends

The trends for 2012 are bold colors and patterns. “In terms of color, black and white and brights in shades of teal, pink, oranges, and purple are the newest trends this year for dorm textiles and décor,” says Neroulias. Also look for bold graphic patterns, like tribal and geometric prints. Into more of a vintage look? Look to the 80’s for inspiration in terms of neon colors and throwback designs.

On the other end of the spectrum, neutrals are also big this year. Combine neutrals with bold hues, or mix them with each other (like shades of gray and brown paired together) for a more subtle look.  “Collegiate décor is always a popular choice for the male crowd,” says Boggs. Combine bold up-to-date colors with the details that represent your school pride.

Small Space Challenges

Designing a small space is always challenging. “The #1 thing we recommend that people do when they first get into their room is to assess the layout, and test different placements,” says Neroulias. She suggests trying out different, unexpected arrangements of furniture to best utilize the space and to fit your needs. If you want an open floor plan that’s ideal for entertaining, consider moving a dresser into a closet, making more room for extra seating, like a pouf. If privacy is your priority, placing desks back to back can make your side of the room feel more your own.

The key to making a small space seem bigger is to be creative with storage and find objects with multiple functions. “Students can use items like trunks for additional storage, but also as seating or tables in their small spaces,” says Boggs. “Drawer organizers and stackable storage bins (like the ones from The Container Store) offers students variety and allow them to make their spaces change as their needs change.”

Neroulias offers some additional tips for maximizing your space. Adapt furniture by using accessories like bed risers to create more storage areas. “Under bed storage and in-closet organizers are key, especially in colors that match you room's color scheme,” she suggests.

Don’t be afraid to use ordinary and practical items as décor elements. Instead of stashing your collection of scarves in a drawer, display them on wall hooks for a bold dash of color. Guys can achieve the same look by turning a collection of baseball caps into wall art.

Tech Style

Today’s college students are more tech-savvy than ever. Bulky stereos and boxy computer monitors are a thing of the past. Now it’s much easier to find technology that keeps design in mind. From tablets to smart phones, undergrads like their technology sleek, mobile, and stylish. “Students’ technology is becoming their décor in some cases,” says Boggs. “Accessories are being offered in bold colors to match your dorm décor. You can choose alarm clocks that also charge your smart phones and iPads.”

One of Dormify’s favorite finds is Clocky, an alarm clock that actually jumps off the nightstand and rolls away if you hit the snooze button, forcing you to get out of bed. “Clocky's hip, innovative and charming and the perfect gadget for a college student,” says Neroulias.

Tech gadgets are also following the retro trend. Look for smart phone compatible handsets that look like your family phone from when you were a kid. You can find stereos that look like old-fashioned record players, but play your mp3’s straight from your iPod. These touches are practical and functional, but add to the design element of your room.

Where to Shop

Finding stylish dorm décor can be a challenge, but more and more retailers are getting the hint that students aren’t satisfied with boring room design. IKEA has long been the go-to source for affordable and modern dorm furnishings. They carry a lot of products that are multi-functional and perfect for a small space.

Online retailers, like Dormify, are great for finding unique décor, especially if you don’t want to have the same duvet or wall art as ten other people on your floor. They often carry products that you can’t find in the big box stores like Target and Bed Bath & Beyond.

Don’t forget to check out thrift shops and yard sales for unique and inexpensive gems. Be creative and think about how you could use certain objects. For instance, an old trunk could be used for storage and serve as a small table. An old set of bed sheets could easily be transformed into vintage-looking curtains. Shopping at these places is especially great if you like your décor to have a retro feel to it.