Decorating a small bedroom creates some specific challenges — especially when you’re sleeping, studying, entertaining and relaxing there. Add a roommate, and those challenges can increase exponentially.

In the not-too-distant past, dorm room ideas for decorating were limited to not much more than posters, bean-bag chairs and a shelf for books (and ramen, of course). But today’s tech-savvy, eco-savvy and design-savvy college students naturally want their dorm room to reflect their design sensibilities.

Here are 10 dorm room ideas for styling your school space.

1. Create Space By Lofting Your Bed

Most dorm rooms have the capacity for loft beds. Take advantage of high ceilings by raising your bed loft-style; doing so gives you a sizable amount of space below your bed.

The possibilities for that newfound space are almost endless. Do you want to make it a comfy lounging area? A workspace with a desk and storage? If you and your roommate both loft your beds, your room will be twice as spacious.

Don’t forget to add a little storage up high so you aren’t always climbing down to answer your phone or get a glass of water.

2. If You Can’t Loft, Then Lift

The majority of dorm rooms are on the smaller side. If you are unable to loft your bed to gain some extra space, try using bed risers to lift it. Those few extra inches of storage space can make a huge difference when you are living in one room.

Consider repurposing old dresser drawers by adding wheels to the bottom and sliding them under the bed for organized, hidden storage. Find some inexpensive fabric or an extra-long bedskirt to keep your items out of sight and your bed looking tidy.

3. Personalize Your Dorm Room

When your room was cleaned over the summer, the furniture probably went back into a standard layout. Don’t be afraid to rearrange it; try putting two desks together, moving the dressers into a new configuration or putting your bed by the window.

Consider covering an accent wall in some removable wallpaper, or using it to cover your dresser drawers. Alternatively, mirrors are a great way to give your room a sense of space and light, so you could cover one wall with framed mirrors. If you can’t put holes in the walls, opt for decorative peel-and-stick mirrors.

If you have someplace off-campus to safely store that utilitarian dorm furniture (and your college doesn’t mind), replace a few unnecessary or undesirable items with things that you love. Just make sure to bring the school’s property back at the end of the year.

4. Use Multi-Functional Furniture

Small spaces have some big challenges. First and foremost: How do you make room for everything? One of the best ways to solve that challenge is to ask more of your furniture.

A small table for your entertaining space is great — but a pouf that can be used as a table, a seat or an ottoman is three times better. Ottomans with hidden storage are another great option.

Your furniture must be able to serve more than one function in your space. Even making the top of your dresser into a vanity can save space and make your dorm room more user-friendly.

5. Coordinate with Your Roommate

Note that we said coordinate, not match. While some roommates may have the desire to make their dorm room look like a Freshome post, don’t feel like you have to go that far (although more power to you if you want to do that).

To prevent things from clashing, make a plan with your roommate before you move in. Choose a color palette that works well together in a small space but allows each of you to show your own personality. Solid-colored bedding gives lots of options for coordinating.

If it’s important to both of you that your styles mesh, forego buying your comforter, pillows, curtains and similar furnishings until you get to school so you can pick them out together.

6. Temporary Wall Art Works Wonders

Dorm rooms have their limitations; you usually can’t paint or nail things to the walls. But that doesn’t mean you are forced to spend a year looking at those boring white walls. There are plenty of options for adding wall art to your dorm room that can be removed quickly and easily at the end of the school year.

Temporary wall decals come in a wide variety of shapes, colors and images. If you don’t find anything that inspires you, make custom art using washi tape; clip Instagram pics on a clothesline held up by removable hooks or wooden clothespins; or suspend a large piece of decorative fabric on a tension rod to create a feature wall.

7. Keep the Clutter Contained

Nothing shrinks a space more than clutter. Keeping your items put away will not only make your mom proud, but also make your room feel bigger. Give your belongings a home by using baskets, trays, bins or boxes; storage can be cute and functional while not detracting from the design of your room.

To keep your accessories contained and organized, take advantage of unused spaces by hanging shoe organizers in the closet and hooks over the closet doors. Don’t forget to embrace the space under the bed and desk.

8. Soften the Harsh Lighting

It’s possible that the lighting in your dorm room will consist of one overhead fluorescent fixture. Many dorm rooms offer only that and a small window; some might have the added luxury of a utilitarian desk lamp.

If that overhead fixture is the only light source you have, you’ll need to supplement it. You aren’t going to be able to keep it on while your roommate is sleeping, no matter how much you need to study.

Get a functional and fabulous desk lamp for your after-hours use or just to add style to the room. And consider changing out that overhead light bulb to a lower wattage to bathe your room in more welcoming light.

9. Make Your Bed an Oasis

Your dorm room is your place to recharge from the demands of college life, and your bed is a key part of that. Knowing how to make it a retreat amid all the activity is vital.

At most colleges, extra-long twin mattresses are the standard bed size. Get comfy sheets, but don’t spend too much, since you probably won’t need that size after your schooling. However, you may want to splurge on your comforter; a larger, good-quality one will last for years and can be used after you move out of the dorm.

If your bed is also a seating area, consider adding a stylish throw to help protect your bedding. Speaking of protection, a fully-enclosing mattress pad also is a good idea. Add throw pillows to liven up the space, and your bed will become the sanctuary you need.

10. Remember Why You’re There

College can be a lot of fun, but don’t lose sight of the real reason you’re there. Your dorm room needs to be an organized, comfortable space where you can study and work — but it doesn’t have to be boring.

Make those all-nighters bearable by adding some funky desk accessories, stylish storage units or a fun chair. Keep your workspace clean and organized so you can study. 

When you’re decorating using these dorm room ideas, the most important factors to consider are function and personality. You have limited space, so your design choices need to be smart — but don’t forget to have a little fun. Your dorm room is your new home; make sure your personality shines through in your choices.