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Get inspired with dorm room decorating ideas from IKEA

Interior Designer: Emma Parkinson (IKEA)

Attended: University of the Arts London, Wimbledon College of Arts
Degree: Fine Art, Print and Digital Media, BA
“I spent my college days living in a super tiny apartment in Islington, North London together with my boyfriend (now husband). Once upon a time it used to be a café, complete with a shop window and everything. It was definitely charming, but smooshed between a pair of old Victorian buildings and only 6½ ft wide! We had next to no storage space, and the kitchen and bathroom were in the basement. Needless to say, we spent a lot of time running up and down the narrow staircases.”

“A cozy dorm room starts with a cozy bed. The secret? Tons of pillows, a warm duvet (we dyed our bed linens ourselves to create a more personal touch), a string of lights, some stacked stools for a bedside table, and a canopy,” shares Emma.
“Since dorms are infamous for not allowing drilling or nails in the walls, I hung an adjustable shower rod above the window to help create the canopy. It really softens up the space!”

A GIF shows a bulletin board being lowered to create extra workspace together with the desk.

“I love clothes as much as the next girl. But when you’re short on storage space, you’ve got to get creative and add more in unexpected ways. For closed storage, I went with a chest of drawers and a small wardrobe. But for those pieces you’d like to show off, an adjustable shower curtain rod is great alternative. Want to take it a bit further? Find an old door, give it a custom paint job, add a few knobs and hooks (to hang jewelry, bags and more), and lean it up against the wall.”

“At first, dorm rooms can seem super bland and boring. But I like to flip the mind-set and think of it as an empty canvas; a chance to perfect your decorating skills.”
–Emma, Interior Designer

Three wooden KNAGGLIG boxes hold books beneath a desk.
KNAGGLIG Box $9.99


“When I was in college, I had an insane amount of books. Since I was on a student budget, I found a bunch of old crates to store them in. I recreated the look here with a few KNAGGLIG boxes that we painted to fit the dusty pastel color scheme in the room,” says Emma. “Oh, and if you want to save even more space, place them under the desk!”

“When it’s time to study or write, you need all the space you can get. I mean that’s really why you’re in college in the first place, right? So think vertically and add plenty of shelving to keep your desk free of unnecessary clutter.”
But Emma’s always thinking one step further. “When friends come over for a study session, go horizontal. I created this desk to double its work surface, and also act as a notice board when it’s folded away.”

“One of the things that bummed me out the most about student living was having to run up and down the stairs to get to the kitchen. If you’re setup is similar to mine, or if you use a shared kitchen, I suggest having two utility carts: one with items to use in the communal kitchen (like pastas, canned tomatoes, you name it), and a bottom shelf for dishes ready to be washed. The other you can fill with snacks and drinks to make right in your room. An electric kettle for tea, a toaster, and a French press will also come in really handy!”

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