When it came time for me to go dorm room shopping as an incoming freshman, I couldn’t have been more excited. That is because I am an aspiring interior designer and I also love interior decorating, so moving away to college and having my own space was a really big deal for me. No joke, in the weeks leading up to move-in, you probably would have found me picking out color schemes using paint swatches and creating diagrams of what the best furniture placement would be in order to maximize the space in the room. Let’s not even mention what my Pinterest boards looked like….
An Introduction to My College Suite
As I did all of my interior decorating from afar, I also loved reading other blogger’s posts on what their dorm rooms looked like. I mean, let’s be real: in a realistic dorm, the furniture color could clash with your color scheme and you might only have enough space in your room for a bed and a desk, let alone the folding chairs and futons that you see in the ads. After all, the ads tend to hide the fact that you’re actually going to be living in the room, rather than it just being a display for a picture or a campus tour. That’s why I loved the blog tours of actual dorm rooms. Not only were great for inspiration, but they also provided me with some helpful insight on what actually living in a dorm room would be like, along with what I would need.
However, this post comes with a twist: Throughout most of my freshman year of college, I lived in a suite, the kind where there is a living room, a kitchenette-like area, a non-community style bathroom, and everybody has their own private room. It was basically like having an apartment inside of a regular dorm, minus the oven and stove. I actually got to live in the suite at a HUGE discount because of building issues that were happening in my previous dorm; even though I was forced to be displaced from my previous dorm room, I was extremely lucky to have ended up being placed in a suite. This just goes to prove that miracles are real, otherwise I wouldn’t have spent my freshman year living in a room that was anywhere near as nice as this one.
So…let’s start the tour!
So this is the hallway that I would enter whenever I would open the door to the common area of the suite. Having a suite also means that you have two keys: one to the common area and one to your room. While this was great, it also meant that when I locked myself out of my private room, I also had to lock myself out of the common area as I went to go get the extra key. (Our doors automatically locked behind us.) Luckily, I didn’t lock myself out too often.
The little door that you see on the left of the picture is actually a coat closet, which was great for storing jackets, clothes, boxes, and luggage. Believe me, if you have the chance to have a coat closet in your room, in addition to your regular closet, I highly recommend it. It saves so much space, especially during the winter.
The door further down along the wall was the bathroom.
The above picture shows the interior of the bathroom, which was quite large, especially when you consider that the picture only shows about three-quarters of the floor; the toilet was on the left-hand side, just outside of this picture.
Along the walls, we put up command hooks to hang our towels from, and each of us also brought along a set of storage drawers for (of course) storage.
The Living Room
When I walked to the end of the hallway and turned to the left, this is what I would see. The suite came with the couches and tables, which was extremely nice for having friends over. But even with this commodity, we rarely ever used it, even when we did have a TV in there.
Having a kitchenette in the suite was a huge plus, mainly because of the extra sink and the cabinets. It was also big enough to have a small folding table (which we actually did have in the Fall semester), so that we could have a place to sit and eat meals. The extra sink was great because it gave us a place to put our dirty dishes in, and cabinets and drawers were even more helpful because they gave us a place to put our food, utensils, and cleaning supplies. These cabinets saved a ton of space in my room.
One of the best parts about living in a suite is that each person has their own private room. Even though there is a hefty cost, a private room in college can be greatly beneficial because the student doesn’t have to worry about sharing with a stranger, they can dictate how clean/ dirty they want the room to be, and they have a private space to study with no interruption.
However, private rooms can also have downsides: if you aren’t sharing the suite with someone you know (or if you don’t have any friends that live in your building), then living in a suite feel very isolated and even uncomfortably quiet.
One thing that I didn’t mention earlier was that my suite was actually handicapped accessible, which meant that not only was the suite bigger, but that my room (the handicapped accessible room of the suite) was also bigger.
Although having that much room was great, there is such as thing as too much space (which I know sounds absolutely crazy coming from a college student, since most students complain about their room being too small). When I moved in, I actually had to re-arrange my room so that it appeared to be smaller than what it actually was; otherwise, the amount of empty space felt very uncomfortable.
In my suite, each private room was labeled with a letter to distinguish it from the others, since we each had a key to our own room and a key to the common area. Some of the girls in my suite hung decorations on the outside of their doors, but I preferred a small rug because it reminded me of the ones my family has at our front door at home.
The above picture is what was on my left-hand side as soon as I would walk into my dorm room. In the bottom left corner, you can see my dresser, which I loved having by the door because it was an easy place to set my keys so that I wouldn’t forget them on the way out.
Along the wall, you can also see my posters. Some of them are from a poster pack, and others are from wall calendars. I actually put them in a checkerboard pattern, which I discuss in my dorm room hacks post, because it makes it look a lot nicer and organized. These posters were put up using wall putty, which allowed me to hang stuff up without worrying about damaging the walls. Keeping your dorm room damage-free is extremely important if you are living in a college dorm/apartment because room damages often result in pricey extra charges.
This is another view of the wall. On the left-hand side of my dresser, you can just barely see a blue step stool. I highly recommend getting one just because it helps if you ever need to get something off a tall shelf or put something up on the wall. For me, it also helped having it by the door because I would use it as a place to put my backpack or jackets on whenever I was coming back from class. On the right-hand side was my laundry basket, which was hidden from view for most people who came into my room.
Above my bed I had a picture frame made out of washi tape. The one thing that I can say about washi tape is that it is a life-saver for decorating in college because of how cheap and decorative it is; you can find tons of uses for it on Pinterest.
For mine, I simply took some washi tape and made an interesting frame out of it (directly on the wall), and purchased some ribbon and clips to use to hang up the pictures. Having alternating patterns of vertical and horizontal images made it a lot more interesting, too!
The above picture shows what the rest of my room looked like from the far end of it; my attempt of a collage wall without any pre-planning is on the left-hand side (which didn’t turn out looking as good as I wanted it to).
Earlier I mentioned about how I made my room feel smaller due to the way I arranged the furniture, and a major way that I did that was by having the desk facing the rest of the room. I absolutely loved having my room set up this way because having the desk not face the wall made the room not feel as isolated, but rather more welcoming and friendly. Plus, the space around it made it’s own little study corner. I had a mini-fridge for snacks (perfect for studying), a printer, a window for natural light, and a bulletin/marker board for reminders.
I didn’t really like how my door was just a big empty space along my wall, so I decided to make a photo collage out of it. To do so, I used the same wall putty that I mentioned earlier and stuck a bunch of photos to it. I also had some wall stickers, which I placed next to next to my mirror. The mirror reflected the study corner and the light from the window, making the room brighter. Having my mirror next to my wardrobe was also helpful for getting ready in the morning.
On my door frame, I used wall stickers to spell-out a well-known quote from the live action Cinderella movie (which is one of my all-time favorites) above the door. I also hung up a clock above the door, which I could see from any spot in the room, which was especially helpful when I was studying at my desk.
This was my study corner. The only thing that could have made it better would have been a bookshelf for my textbooks; my windowsill was big enough for regular-sized books, but not the huge ones that I needed for class.
The above picture shows what my room looked like from my study corner, which is probably the best picture that shows how big the room actually was, especially when you consider that the bed isn’t even pushed against the far wall.
And that concludes the tour of my freshman dorm room and suite! Please let me know if you have any comments or questions about how I arranged it, why I chose to have it set up like this, and/or what having a suite and private dorm room is like in general!