Dorm Room Decor

Dorm Room Decor
Dorm Room Decor

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Dorm Room Decor

Do you have a child, niece, nephew, or even grandchild who is going off to college this year?  It’s definitely not too early (even though I know it’s only July 24) to be thinking about ways you can make your young person’s environs the best they can be to encourage their growth and success while living in a dormitory.  Below are some suggestions to help you prepare for the big day when the chick leaves the nest.

Many colleges and universities have a plethora of aging residence halls constructed in the sixties and seventies for the post-WWII generation. Today's college students are now pouring into universities, and they have no interest in the baby boomer’s dormitory-style living. Today’s students wouldn’t consider sharing a bathroom with their floor mates: 30 or more other students.  This generation expects flat panel TVs, cable, and high-speed Internet access everywhere along with comfortable spaces to gather and study, as well as socialize.
These conveniences may seem disproportionate to their bill-paying parents, but university officials say they’re competing for top student talent, so they’re giving their customers what they want. 
Try to request newer or remodeled residence halls, even though the ivy-covered old brick buildings may appeal to a certain population of prospective students.  Most universities and colleges have websites that show the floor plan for their halls, so be sure to be in the know and make a copy of it so you can (quite possibly) rearrange furniture (assuming it’s not all built-in) as needed.

Keep it Simple
Even the most updated space will probably still be quite small for today's student, considering they’ll (usually) be sharing it with a roommate.  More open space will make the room seem larger, so adding a futon you can sit on during the day might take up too much “real estate.” Most colleges and universities have a website where you can find the residence hall's floor plan.  Rearrange the furniture on the floor plan so that you’ve got the most open look. Here are a few floor plans I took off the internet for your perspective.  Keep in mind that nothing can be permanent, so no nails in walls, no window covering hardware, paint or such can be a part of your plans.

Evergreen College- Olympia, WA

Mercer Court- Univ. of Washington

Terry Hall- University of Washington

A Color Scheme
If you and your room mate are already friends, consider a color scheme that will unify the space.  Since the beds (even twins) are the biggest piece of furniture in the room, it would be great to select comforters that also coordinate.  (They don’t have to be identical.)  Keep in mind that lighter can create a more spacious feeling.
Photo credit: Pottery Barn

Photo credit: Pottery Barn

Visual Dividers
Sometimes it’s nice to divide the space between two roommates, particularly if one likes to study and one likes to socialize.  Once again, dividing the space can make each half look miniscule, so consider ways to divide it with a see-through or translucent means.  A screen, a book shelf, translucent (96” long) curtains hung from the ceiling using removable hooks or even placing a piece of furniture like a desk perpendicular to a wall can create a feeling to two separate spaces while leaving it open concept.
Photo credit:

Photo credit:

Go Vertical on the Walls
Let’s be serious: virtually any dorm room is not going to provide as much storage space as is needed, whether it’s closet space, space for folded clothes, or space for equipment. To keep the floors as open as possible, there are many companies that make storage bins of various sizes and colors.  Go all the way to the ceiling if you can, so you utilize the vertical space on the walls.

Photo credit: Ikea

Wall Art
Idea 1: You can find frames very reasonably ($) at places like Marshalls, Home Goods, or even Target. Adding a mat gives anything a sense of importance.  Consider framing wall paper, wrapping paper, or blowing a photo you love. 
Idea 2: Using removable adhesive strips, attach cork board to the wall.  You can frame it or not, paint it to match a color scheme if your roommate and you can agree on a color scheme. Then use push pins to tack up your favorite little things in a collage, which can change as the seasons change or as you have new experiences.  You can even hang your necklaces and such on removable hooks on the wall.
Idea 3: Develop a design on anything from your entry door, your dorm-sized fridge, or the sides of those plastic storage bins to create some pizzazz using Washi tape.  It can be a fun project for you and your room mate.
Idea 4: The world of peel and stick (that aren’t permanent) can help you create graphics or an overall look of wallpaper in your spaces.They even have lots of peel and stick removable wallpaper, although one has to go to some work for this project.
Photo credit: Pottery Barn

Photo credit: Wall Candy Arts

In Conclusion:
Not sure where to start? Go back to my July 4 entry to read "Nine Decorating Tips for Furnishing Small Spaces."  Designers at can suggest all kinds of possible arrangements, have a lot of very cool multi-use furniture, and color scheme ideas to get your creative juices flowing. What are your questions or comments on dorm room decor?  If you want or need help decorating your child’s dorm room, or selecting, designing or remodeling your home, please contact me at and we'll set up an initial consultation....and please follow this blog for the latest home improvements! 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

I Love Asian Design Style!

Are you seeking a design style that takes you away from your crazy-busy life and has you enter an atmosphere of tranquility and calm? Asian design style can take you from a frustrating commute to a restful sanctuary in just a few steps to your entryway. It takes more than a Shoji screen- it takes thoughtful planning and editing of what you currently own in order to have a successful outcome.  Here are some tips for your consideration to have the Asian-influence you desire in your home. 

Asian design style varies tremendously throughout the world, partially because it comes from Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese and even Tibetan and Indian cultures, all of whom vary greatly.  Then take the fact that someone wants a modern feel to their home and adds a touch of Asian influence with the addition of a tansu chest, a lacquered screen and a chandelier reminiscent of Chinese lanterns, and calls it “Asian.”  Another creates the sense of a traditional Asian home.  This style varies greatly, so it can meet the needs of many people.  Let me say, however, that feng shui can work in ANY decor style, whether it’s traditional, ultra-modern, or anything in between.

Japanese Design Style:
Most Japanese residents live in small homes or apartments that have an open-concept feel, with plenty of light and linear lines in them. Minimalist, clean and simple describe this style reflecting nature. Wood is a common building component, and any view of nature is honored with large windows. Furniture isn’t identified as for one room or another as it is in the U.S., and there is generally less of it than would exist in an American home.  What does exist in Japanese homes is often low to the ground, modern and simple in design. Colors in the home reflect nature: tans and browns of wood, and greens of plants and trees.
If you want to truly reflect the Japanese style, you could include a meditation room, plush floor cushions, a water feature, and a deep soaking tub in your bathroom.

Known for its simplicity, elegance and enhanced functionality, Korean d├ęcor would make your home exude a naturally minimalistic and yet sophisticated style. 
Thai design has a long history, from rich colors and handmade tapestries to creative decorative art pieces and glamorous carved wood.

Chinese Design Style:
Simplicity is one of the most basic concepts utilized in design for the Chinese. Again, nature is a very important consideration when designing a home’s decor.  A room should not be filled with lots of common decor, but include the proper placement of a few valuable and exquisite objects. The Chinese were amazing horticulturists, and many plants in our (plant) nurseries today originated in China. It’s no wonder then, that many bright and beautiful colors are used as their reflection in home decor.

When we speak of China, we must consider feng shui, the ancient philosophy that was developed by observing nature.  The guiding principle remains the same today: the pursuit of the most advantageous and harmonious place to live and work.  The color red is considered an auspicious color, as it’s a symbol of good fortune and prosperity, as is bright yellow or gold, as it represents long life. Black is sometimes used because of its association with career and money, although it also represents the absence of light, so is used judiciously.  Shapes tend to be more curved and less linear, using circles, arches, ovals, undulating, and arc.

Vietnam’s culture is apparent in its graceful architecture of its temples and pagodas.  Because Vietnam was under direct Chinese rule for more than 10 decades, it naturally adopted many Chinese traditions, including traditional Chinese styles of building.  The influence of French colonial style is most apparent in cities in Vietnam.

Indian Interior Design:
It’s hard not to think of the Taj Mahal when you conjure up mental pictures of the country once known for its wealth, royalty and diverse cultures.  Color is probably the first thing to use when creating an Indian style.  Although there are many intense, rich, and deep colors, you could focus on colors of the Indian spices: chili, cinnamon and pepper.  Patterns such as paisley are another important part of this style.
Photo credit:

Photo credit: Lonny

Natural lighting is essential in any home, but its something to which Asians pay close attention.  Once you’ve brought in as much natural light into the space as possible, then consider ambient lighting. Recessed cans and under counter lights can light up every dark corner. Stylish lanterns reflecting the history of paper lanterns used in ceremonies can be a lovely way to add needed light for evenings and dark Winter nights. 

Creating and Maintaining Balance:
Whether we talk about the Tao, Yin and Yang, or the Five Elements, you will find that the concept of balance in important in Asian design styles. You will need to consider the big picture of the whole home, as well as individual rooms that you are decorating.  Placing one item that’s red in a room isn’t going to give a sense of balance, so put more than one “splash” of red, whether it’s using accent pillows, artwork, or other decorative accent.  The same goes for shapes and materials.

In conclusion:
Asian style can give your home a dramatic or subtle appeal, depending upon what you’re looking for in design.  What are your questions or comments on Asian Design Style?  If you want or need help selecting, designing or remodeling your home, please contact me at and we'll set up an initial consultation....and please follow this blog for the latest home improvements! 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Nine Decorating Tips for Furnishing Small Spaces

Are you thinking that your home is too cluttered (or even claustrophobic!) and you'd like it to feel more spacious, even if it is small?  Here are some suggestions for all of us to consider in order to create a new feeling of spaciousness in our homes. If you’ve downsized into a space that’s smaller than you imagined it would be, here are some ideas to make it feel lighter, more capacious and welcoming.

1. Set Your Priorities:

Because small spaces are very limited, you need to figure out your priorities and allocate accordingly. Some people need a desk area, but not a second bedroom on a regular basis. Some people want a living area and would prefer a media room to a dining room. Make the space work for your needs and don't hold yourself to what is traditional in a home. It's your home.

2.Think in Terms of Zones:

Ask yourself what activities need to happen in a room (weighing their relative importance), and then allocate an area- sometimes separate, sometimes overlapping other areas-for each activity. Say your family room will serve as TV lounge, casual dining spot, homework center and craft space (in that order of importance.) To create a feeling of separation between zones, create visual barriers between them. A long, low cabinet, a sofa, a rug, or a set of chairs can create a border between spaces without blocking light or making a room feel carved up. Open shelving, decorative screens, and carved wood panels can break up a space without totally closing it off. Folding screens act as mobile partitions to hide a messy corner workspace or obscure the view of your exercise gear, and they can be folded flat and set aside when you don't need them.

3. Strive for Stylistic Unity:

Stick to a unified vision for an entire room at the very least- the whole space would be ideal. A cohesive color palette, design style, wood tone or fabric can pull everything together and preserve a sense of spaciousness in a room that serves multiple functions. (This doesn't mean you should buy a "set" of matching upholstered furniture or side tables, however.) Look for furnishings that allow rooms to transition from one function to another: a coffee table that raises to dining height; a lidded ottoman that pulls quadruple duty as a coffee table, footrest, storage bench and extra seating; a handsome secretary with a fold-down work surface for your laptop. Portability is important, too: put double-duty pieces on casters so you can move them around easily.

4. Use Your Wall Space:

Stretch bookcases, cabinets and open shelving to the ceiling to supersize storage space and visually enlarge a room without cutting into its footprint. Vertical storage also helps maximize floor space, so affix slender shelves or display cubes to walls instead of using floor-hogging furniture, and don't overlook the storage potential above a door or a window, which can be a perfect spot for a substantial shelf.

5.Furniture Scale:

Your small space will probably feel and look better with moderately-sized furnishings, as it's all about scale. The apartments that actually look bigger with the furniture in them are those where the furnishings fit the space and yourself. If one of the inhabitants is a bigger person, just make certain that the furniture is comfortable for them. Just as you want to avoid furniture that's massive and overstuffed, avoid furniture and accessories that are too small. Even in a tiny space, it's important to consider functionality and good looks. To make a realistic furniture plan, use masking tape on the floor to lay out the ideal size of each piece, and then buy.

6. Add Some Curves:

Because most apartments are made up of a series of rooms all shaped like boxes, it's great to add some curves.That's easier if your design style is traditional, not so much if it's modern.  Included below are a couple of pictures of ways to add curves to a modern style. Round tables, chairs with a curve and rugs that are either in shapes or adorned with shapes like spirals and dots help to soften the box-like feel of an apartment.

7. Lighting: 

Add up lights, down lights, and all around to create interest and the feeling of space. Lights are the most amazing way of making a space feel warm and hospitable. Using several lamps throughout a space creates a warm glow in the room.

8. Combat Clutter With Hidden or Attractive Storage:

If you're lucky enough to have a closet or a pantry, invest in an organizing system that will eke every available inch out of those spaces. (Remember that clear/transparent storage in closets or a pantry help you see what’s in the bin without having to open it.) If you're not that lucky, purchase furniture that will house all your needed supplies in style. Coffee tables, ottoman pieces and other double-duty items offer hidden storage options. Attractive baskets, bins and cloth-covered boxes on shelves or in cubbies keep everyday supplies handy without adding visual overload for the eyes.  I can’t emphasize enough the importance of this paragraph to help your home feel and look more spacious.

Baskets unify the space, even if their contents aren't.

The green color also helps to unify this space.

Even the garage feels better organized.

Look at all this guest room storage!

9. Dress Up Utilitarian Fixtures and Furnishings:

Create clever disguises for unsightly but essential fixtures such as a water heater, utility boxes, a washer and dryer or a mountain of computer equipment. Hang a homemade art canvas in front of an electrical panel or fuse box, or use a folding screen to cordon off a utility area. Hide the washer and dryer behind a curtain or a set of bi-fold doors. Drape decorative cloths over office equipment in a guest room when visitors come to stay.

In Conclusion:
Have ideas to add to these nine? Have questions about what I’ve shared? Write back, I’d love to hear from you about your design successes, as well as your challenges! Check out my website at  
if you need professional help in designing your space. Remember, we convert ordinary spaces into extraordinary places!