I know I have been a little MIA lately on the blog and with good reason! Ya’ll….my first baby is all moved in her dorm at the University of Alabama. I think I’ve been a little bit in denial for the past 6 months, but it’s down to the wire and time really does fly by! Even in the middle of a pandemic, we are busy getting everything together for her to go off and live on campus at the University of Alabama this Fall of 2020. She will be staying in the Tutwiler dorms there and I’ve done my research with the ins and outs of what the dorm is like to live in and I think (more like hope) we have everything together that she will need while living there at least for the first semester! 

Decorating a dorm room these days is kind of crazy! I mean, have you seen some of these dorm rooms!? They’re better than my own master bedroom, I kid you not! Just take a look at this one done by Dawn Thomas with After Five Designs…..

after five designs dorm room decor

Crazy pretty, right!? And once you see these decorated dorm rooms, there is no unseeing them or even trying to convince yourself to want to decorate a dorm room any other way! grrrrr! Because I love a look for less option, I tried to do everything myself, right down to a DIYish Refrigerator Cabinet. I’ll show you everything I purchased and created to get this luxe dorm room look for less! 

1. | 2. | 3. | 4. | 5. | 6. | 7. | 8. | 9. | 10. | 11. | 12. | 13. | 14. | 15. | 16. | 17. | 18.

1. | 2. | 3. | 4. | 5. | 6. | 7. | 8. | 9. | 10. | 11. | 12. | 13. | 14. | 15. | 16. | 17. | 18.


Let’s start with what you’re going to need to get this kind of look for a dorm room. The first thing we did was get with my daughter’s roommate and her roommate’s mom and just figure out the color scheme they wanted to go with. We actually started everything with a pillow we found and loved on etsy. It was a watercolor fabric with a few key colors in it, so we felt it would be easy to pick solid colors to go with it that the girls were wanting to incorporate in their dorm. 


Then, they picked the headboard. I found one on dormify that was neutral and pretty and super functional with the charging ports built in that let you charge your phone or other devices and plug something in. Since outlets in a dorm room a sparse, you’re going to need all the extra plugs you can get.


I feel like the best thing to do with the core bedding (being the sheets, coverlet and bedskirt) is to go white  I found the coverlet at Tuesday Morning and it is by Peacock Alley. Here is a very similar option I found on Amazon. I also found these sheets on Amazon for just $17 and they had a little detail to them. ok, here’s a little detail you want to know about…..Get the sheets in a twin XL size, but get the coverlet in a Queen size. You’re going to want the overhang from the Queen coverlet since the bed will be raised higher than normal and because you’re going to want to add on a 4 inch mattress topper for comfort to your child’s bed. I went in with a zip up mattress protector. I got one that protected from everything (since those mattresses have been in there for God knows how long) and I got one that was a fabric material and not plastic so the sound of your child tossing and turning in the night wasn’t waking the neighbors. After the zip up mattress protector, we put the 4 inch mattress topper on and then I put another mattress protector over that. Then I topped that with the sheets and then the coverlet. 

dorm room decor bedding


There were many attempts of  me ordering several velvet duvet covers off of numerous sites only for the color to be off from that of the print on the decorative pillow when it arrived. I finally just took the decorative pillow we started with to our local designer fabric store and picked out a velvet fabric for the duvet cover and matching large pillow. I sewed the duvet covers myself since they’re fairly easy to do (just a lot of straight stitching) and I handed the project of the pillow covers off to a seamstress I know. 


The bedskirt fabric was the same white fabric I used for the back of the velvet duvet covers that I had made. You can DIY the bed skirt panels if you wanted to….simple straight stitch hem on the bottom or even a no sew option with an iron down hem. Just make sure the length is long enough to cover from the height of the bed when raised to the highest height option (which most colleges will make you submit a work order to raise the bed before your child moves in),  and then all the way to the floor because you will want to use all of the under bed as storage for those plastic storage drawer sets. The bedskirt will hide all of that under bed area.  I sewed 2 ribbons on the ends of each panel and in the center of each panel to be able to tie the dorm bed skirt on to the bed Frame because there is no box spring on these dorm beds to be able to use those screw pins. You only need panels for the sides of the bed that are showing because the way most dorms are set up, one side of the bed is against the wall. 


Drapes really make a space feel “homey”. I’ve seen some dorms have cafe length drapes that just go to the window seal, but I chose to do full length drapes for this dorm room. I bought the white linen drapes from Target and loved the quality. I sewed black out fabric to the back of each panel so they blocked the light a little better and they really looked like a custom pair of drapes. I thought about sewing a decorative tape to the middle end, but chose to go plain white. I can always add a trim later. 


Lamps are a great way to add in a pop of color to the dorm room. You can always find sets of lamps for great prices, you just have to search for them and lots of them look more expensive that what they are. I found the pink lamps on several sites from several different vendors and finally scored a deal on them! I loved the shape and height and feel like they added that extra pop of color needed for this space. 


Like any of the furniture selections of a dorm room, it’s important to know the measurements of areas in the dorm to figure out where certain items will go and to make sure they will fit in the space. I chose these bedside tables that I found on amazon because they had lots of drawers for more storage and because they were wide and deep enough to have the lamps on. 

dorm room decorating


The next thing we picked out was the rug. We opted for white for the neutral aspect of it going with everything, White probably wasn’t our best choice as I really didn’t take into consideration everything that will probably drop/spill on it eventually. (Makeup, drinks, food, not to mention just the every day traffic on it. But I love white and love that it goes with everything and makes the room look clean and I figure if they get something on it, we can try to bleach.  So the best size for the tutwiler dorm room is around 8×10. Check your child’s dorm room floor measurements first. **Move in tip…The rug will be the first thing you put down in the dorm on moving day so make sure you pack it and haul it up to the dorm in the first load. 


Storage ottomans are great for a dorm room because they can be pulled up to the desk area to sit on instead of having those big bulky chairs. They also are great for storing shoes, or cleaning supplies, or towels, or anything else that needs to be easily accessible. 

dorm room decor bedding


Artwork is a must in a dorm room to cover up all of the ugly cinder block wall space. We went with a large painting in the middle of the two beds and above the refrigerator cabinet. I had this large painting I found from TJMaxx and my best friend, Laine, painted over this one using the colors we used for the dorm room since the size worked. We also added other picture collages and an abstract face painting, also painted by Laine. My daughter had fun creating picture collages for her and her roommate to bring a little bit of their personality to the space. * A little money saving tip on artwork would be to look for someone on etsy. Their prices are usually more reasonable and they can usually take on commission pieces. Or, if you’re wanting to DIY your artwork, find an already framed canvas like I did at places like TJMaxx, HomeGoods, Target, or even a Goodwill and paint over it using your custom dorm room colors and have fun with it! 


These are used to house that ugly dorm room mini fridge and microwave combo. They come in different sizes so you’ll need to figure out where this piece will go in the dorm and what the exact measurements are of what you want it to house. You can get them from several different vendors and places online for prices that range between $600-$1000. I chose to have one custom made by a family member who does woodwork to save some money. Any local person that builds cabinets could build one for you also, and you might come out cheaper that way. We went this way also because we needed custom measurements to be able to have a refrigerator cabinet and still keep the beds long ways along the wall to maximize the dorm’s open space. It ended up costing us a little over $300 to have it built and then I had a piece of mirror cut for the top and added the knobs. 

dorm room refrigerator cabinet


I love the way these monogrammed towels turned out that a good friend of our’s did (Laurie Simpson). I gave her what was left of the velvet from the duvet covers and she appliquéd the monogram on the towels! 

dorm room decor


There is bound to be some open shelving area in a dorm room, so storage bins are a must. And since they will be out in the open, you’ll want to aesthetically pleasing ones that hide the clutter inside. 


The lighting in the dorm rooms is not the best, and these makeup mirrors with lights will be much appreciated by the girls. They also become part of the decor with them being on the open vanity areas. 

dorm room decor lighted makeup mirror


Annsley’s roommates mom found the prettiest marble coasters for their dorm room to sit on their bedside tables and I thoght this was a great idea. no only do they become part of the decor, but they will be used constantly protecting the table from all the drinks set on top. 


Full length mirrors are a must for a girls dorm room. You’ll need an over the door style mirror for it to hang on the closet door. 

dorm room decor over the door mirrors
dorm room decor over the door mirrors

Dorm rooms really have gotten quite the makeover these days! I hope these dorm decorating tips will help you decorate the dorm of your dreams and save you some money along the way!  


Leave a Comment

The Comments

  • Avatar
    July 8, 2021

    Would you share the dimensions for the cabinet if you remember them? Love your cabinet more than any of the ones I’ve seen readymade.

      > KMW
      July 8, 2021

      I will try to get you an exact measurement…I know we went with a measurement that would have the cabinet fit in between the two beds foot to foot so they had more room in their dorm. send me an email to and I’ll email you back the measurements once I find them tomorrow!