8 Insanely Over-The-Top Dorm Rooms You Need to See to Believe

When you think of a dorm room, words like "chic," "gorgeous," and "elegant" may not immediately come to mind. But who says a dorm room can't be as beautifully decorated as any other room in a home? Dawn Thomas, owner and designer of After Five Designs, decided to put an end to the bland dorm room stigma and has professionally designed dozens of breathtaking small spaces for college freshmen at Ole Miss in Oxford, Mississippi. (And if you are as obsessed with Pinterest as we are, we are positive you are already familiar with her work!) So, with college move-in right around the corner, we decided to reach out to Dawn herself to get the inside scoop on how to design a magazine-worthy room. Read on as we break down her top eight dorm design tips that you definitely don't want to miss!

Purchase Items You Can Use More Than One Year

Dawn recommends that when shopping for your dorm room, you should always try to purchase items that you can see yourself enjoying for many years to come, not just for one year. She says, "I have seniors that are still using their freshman year [bedding]." So while you may be tempted to buy items that are supertrendy right now, it is always smarter to invest in purchases that you know you will love and use for a long time.

When Available, Buy in Pairs

Dawn also suggests always buying items like lamps in a pair. If you offer to pick up the tab for two matching lamps to share with your freshman roomie, then you will be able to move on to other housing in the future with that same matching pair. This will help to avoid additional costs for the following year, plus, Dawn reminds us, "you might not be able to get that same lamp again later."

Spend More on Bedding & Throws

When it comes to spending versus saving money on dorm room decor, Dawn advises to "spend on the things you can re-use." Items like bedding, quilts, and decorative pillows will be able to grow with you through college and even after graduation. For example, Dawn says, "you can use your throw year after year," so this is one area where it is alright to spend a little extra.

Save on Rugs

Since you might be splurging a little on your bedding set, Dawn reminds us that there are also areas where you can save. Rugs, for one, are an awesome decorative item that you can use to cozy up your dorm room without breaking the bank. Dawn says, "you can get [a rug] anywhere! Amazon or Overstock.com rugs run anywhere from $50 to $120, and they give the futon area its own little space too."

Buy All Queen Bedding

Even though most dorm rooms usually house two twin beds, Dawn recommends buying all of your bedding in queen-size. For one, dorm beds can typically be lofted or higher off the ground than normal, so the queen bedding won't hang or appear out of place. And secondly, Dawn says, "when I do a room, I never put a twin coverlet on the bed. [The student] needs to be able to use it for more than one year." So, opting for the queen set can also be the more financially sound investment as you grow into a townhouse or apartment in later years.

Personalize With Art

Dawn also loves to help her students personalize their dorm rooms with her own custom art. She says that hanging artwork on the walls "can bring the colors of the room together," making the dorm design that much more cohesive and bright. Plus, she also reminds us, you can use any artwork you buy in your future apartment or home.

Use Mirrors to Create a More Spacious Vibe

Dorm rooms definitely have the reputation for being smaller and much more cramped than what many students are used to, so Dawn suggests hanging a nicely sized mirror "to make the room appear bigger." This will create a more open and airy vibe, plus it doubles as the perfect space for you to get ready before class and nights out. And bonus! Another expert tip from Dawn is to check out the makeup mirror selection from Etsy. "They are pretty awesome!"

Hide Storage Bins as Much as You Can

Nothing ruins a design scheme faster than piles of storage bins out in the open. Dawn says since she prefers a much cleaner look, she always suggests stacking your bins in an opening that is easily accessible, like an area under your bed. And to ensure they stay hidden, she recommends "the thinner, cheaper clothing baskets" since they don't take up as much storage room. Plus, don't forget to keep a bin with your most-used items on top so they are simple to grab and go!