Dorm Hacks

So my life goal is to build a treehouse. Not just a skimpy platform on a low-hanging branch, but a full out treeHOUSE complete with rooms, doors, and balconies. However, right now life has assigned me to a 13 by 13 square foot box, otherwise known as a dormitory room. So to remain in denial about my meager living situation, I decided to give the room an upgrade. This post is partially for talking about how I tackled the challenges of a tight college living quarter and created an exciting and comfortable place to live but mostly it’s for gushing about how proud I am of my room. So here it is:


  • Lighting is important! Without good lighting, the dorm is honestly not a very pleasant place to be. The overhead lights of my room are clinical white, giving me a headache every time I enter the room. To solve that problem I have planted lights in every corner of the room. Also, by stringing Christmas lights around the perimeter of the ceiling, warmth is wrapped around the room.


  • Washi tape everything. Many times dorms come with default university furniture that screams conformity. If you want to add some personality to your room without changing your furniture, you can decorate your surfaces with washi tape. I liberally applied the tape to my mirror, desk, drawers, computer, etc. Speaking of personality, adding a whiteboard that suitemates can doodle on or sticking personal items to a wall can also add a personal touch.


  • Beyoncé approves partitions. A space can be divided into an infinite amount of subspaces. And the dorm is a space, so instead of thinking of the explicit subspaces within it created by the layout of the furniture, think outside of the box to explore new subspaces you can create. For example, a metal hanging rack spans the back of my door. Instead of just using it to hang towels, I divided it into a space to hang my mirror and used the periphery spaces to hang my towels.


  • Not enough floor space? Think vertical. I had a hammock chair left over from last semester’s installation art class. I really wanted extra seating in my room, but didn’t have anywhere to put it. So I started scanning the upper half of my room. Well I had space above my bed didn’t I? I took some measurements, headed to the sculpture studio, and by the next day this is what resulted.


On the other hand, I also wanted a reading nook or just a comfy hiding spot. By clearing a lot of the stuff underneath my bed, I was able to make a fort.


  • Smell like a 5-star hotel. No plugin scents or open candle flames allowed? No problem. Use a wax tart warmer! This bad boy melts a scented cube of wax with minimum heat. You can get wax cubes anywhere. I’m pretty sure Walmart sells them for $2 a pack.


  • Admit it, you’re lazy. It’ll be 3AM, and you decide you need a glass of water or you will die. Oh, but you don’t want to leave your room. It’s helpful to keep large amounts of water and food in your room for those emergency situations. I have a stash of snacks (primarily ring pops I convinced myself I’ll eat for Halloween) and granola bars under my bed. Also I bought a large water dispenser from the grocery store. These things are usually a one time disposable deal, but I didn’t punch the vent in the top so I could refill it over and over.

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  • HOOKS, HOOKS, HOOKS. 3M command tape hooks are the holy grail of college. Throw them at your walls, pitch them at your doors. Instead of having another piece of junk laying on the floor, hang it up!


  • Add a little party. It never killed nobody. Ummmm, so I guess it always killed somebody. But it’s okay, you will die in an awesome dorm. My roommate and I added a stereo to our room so we can easily play music during the day or blast it during the weekend. Make your dorm place a fun place to be because you will be there…for a year.


So that’s it. Those are the main tips I can think of when it comes to dorm hacks. I always try to obtain/build my furnishing before I go out and buy it. And then, Goodwill is my first go to. Because I’m so singularly obsessed with my dorm, and I want to share it with the world, here’s a picture progression of my dorm rooms from freshman year to junior year.

Freshman year:


Sophomore year:


Junior year:


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