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How to Create a Dorm Room Layout


Dorm Room Simple Layout
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As the beginning of the school year comes ever closer, dorm room organization and decoration has become a favorite discussion topic among my group of friends. Our future dorm rooms vary in almost every aspect (size, shape, location, wall color, and floor material, to name just a few), but the one thing we’ve got in common is the standard issue furnishings our colleges and universities so generously provide us.

Everyone can rattle off the list: a closet or wardrobe, a dresser, a desk with a chair, and of course a bed. How to arrange these cookie-cutter fixtures, however, is a subject not often breached by us as we madly compare comforters and accent rugs, though it’s just as important as our decor. A room layout can give off a multitude of vibes, and is integral to one’s college experience, whether you want to focus on welcoming visitors or having a private place to study.

Now that we’ve learned how to organize our rooms around a color scheme, this article will teach you how to create your own dorm room layout, based on your needs. Since the vast majority of college students live in doubles, these are the rooms we will be focusing on.

For easy explanation, we will be utilizing Design Your Dorm‘s 3-D dorm room design tool to illustrate these sample dorm room layouts. (We’re not big fans of the shopping part of the site – you can get better items for much cheaper elsewhere – but the free dorm design tool is great.) Below, I’ve created three rooms: one that emphasizes privacy, one that emphasizes a social atmosphere, and a taste of feng shui.

Before we start…

You will need to:

  • know your room furnishings (call your Residence Life office to find out)
  • know the dimensions of your room
  • have a Design Your Dorm account, or a pencil and graph paper
  • know what kind of room atmosphere you (and your roommate(s), if applicable) want

Layout 1: Emphasizing Privacy

Private Dorm Room Layout

This layout features a simple way to get your own space in a small double. One roommate lofts their bed (check with your RA to see if this is an option; I know that some schools will do it for you), and fits their desk underneath it, while the other one keeps their bed on the ground and has their desk overlooking it. This way, either person can study or sleep while the other does the opposite, without disturbing the other. The desks face away from each other, and the beds are far away enough to give each member their own personal area.

You can also try:

  • Putting the desks back to back in a smaller room
  • Placing the desks side by side, with a divider in between (like a large bulletin board or stacked dressers)
  • Using wardrobes or dressers to divide the room

Layout 2: A Social Atmosphere

Social Dorm Room Layout

This layout creates a welcoming, open space for guests to come in and chat. “Butting” the ends of the beds together provides ready-made seating (arranging pillows against the wall will encourage visitors), and the dressers next to the beds make handy tabletops for snack food or music speakers. An area rug in a cheerful color will warm the room up, and you may also want to consider investing in a small coffee table (with storage room), as well as some floor pillows, which can be easily tucked out of sight under the beds when you’re done with your social butterfly day.

You can also try:

  • Using the dresser surface for a TV
  • Stacking the dressers for even more room (the top can even be a nightstand for someone in a lofted bed)
  • Placing your fridge under your bed for easy access during get-togethers

Layout 3: Some Feng Shui

Feng Shui Single Dorm Layout

Feng Shui, the Chinese art of spatial arrangement, works best in apartments and single rooms, so this layout features a single. The important thing to remember about Feng Shui is that the space from the door to the window is full of energy known as qi, which shouldn’t be disrupted by anything. As a Chinese girl myself, I find that following some simple Feng Shui rules can really enhance the relaxing nature of a room.

This room features some common Feng Shui elements. The bed is reasonably far away from the door, to give a sense of privacy, and the qi is not disturbed since the desk is below the window. The dresser also provides a nice spot to grow a plant and enhance the life of the room. Feng Shui may seem advanced, but it really can make a difference in your room when applied properly.

Give it a try by:

  • Utilizing rounded corners and circular rugs to counteract the sharp edges of dressers and beds
  • Going for symmetry whenever possible (e.g., putting two nightstands on either side of a bed)
  • Placing furniture at interesting angles instead of shoving it up against the wall (hard to demonstrate with the DYD tool but totally possible)
  • Never putting a mirror facing your bed

What do you think?

Were these layouts helpful? What was your dorm room or apartment layout like? Were they similar to the ideas here, or did you have a totally original way of doing it? Is Feng Shui a feasible option for college students? What tips do you have for incoming college students trying to maximize the uses of their dorm rooms? Let us know with a comment!

Posted on on July 27, 2011 / Filed Under: Dorm Room / Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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29 Responses to “How to Create a Dorm Room Layout”

  1. 1
    July 27th, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    One of the first feng shui rules is that the back of your chair (your back really) should never be turned to the door

  2. 2
    July 27th, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    Wow, I wish I had known about this when I moved into the dorms. I had to switch up everything one weekend when my roommate was gone because we had no idea what to do with her un-lofted un-bunked bed but we needed space. This visualization probably would have helped us when moving in!

  3. 3
    July 27th, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    I’m not sure I understand the Feng Shui diagram. Does Feng Shui require the closet be impossible to open? Perhaps that’s just the drawing?

  4. 4
    July 27th, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    Navi – You’re right! I was trying to orient the desk and chair so that they were diagonal (which serves the other purpose of not having all the furniture against the wall), but the program didn’t have that capability.

    Jocelyn – Ah, that wasn’t my original intention! I guess I should have made the room dimensions larger :)

  5. 5
    July 27th, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    This would be so awesome, but the desks and closets in my dorm rooms aren’t move-able. The only things to push around are the beds. =/

  6. 6
    July 27th, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    My dorm roomie was a genius when it came to arranging our room. Our room was slightly smaller than most, plus we had a futon and roomie was super against bunk beds. My brilliant roomie arranged it so well that people often asked us if our room was bigger than the others in our building. A good arrangement will do that for you!

  7. 7
    July 27th, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    This is so fun. I wish I had the opportunity to decorate my dorm, but I’m living at home so I don’t get the chance. I did redecorate this summer though!

  8. 8
    July 27th, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    My roommate and I were really lazy. We just left ours as it came since we’d have to move it all back at the end of the year anyway. (Our beds were lofted and our desks were underneath, and the dresser was behind her bed. ) It’s not like we were there all the time, anyway!

  9. 9
    July 27th, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    Hahaha these would have been great for my dorms but I’m pretty sure all of the furniture fit just about one way and one way only, with the exception of lofted beds or not.

  10. 10
    July 27th, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    When I was living in a dorm, my roommate and I would re-arrange our furniture practically every month! It was fun to change it up, plus it helped us find a layout that we both really liked. :)

  11. 11
    July 28th, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    I was just wondering if you could do a singles dorm version.

  12. 12
    July 28th, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    Dorkella – Great idea! I think I might, check back over the next few weeks :)

  13. 13
    July 28th, 2011 at 11:55 pm

    Ah you read my mind! I’ve been thinking about how to arrange my new single all day. DYD doesn’t help much…they don’t have a layout similar to my room. Most of my design relies on where the outlets are. My desk gets set up there because I have a desktop computer that stays on my desk and a netbook that comes with me to class.

  14. 14
    July 31st, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    love this as usual and the casual mention of conversation with your friends<3

  15. 15
    January 16th, 2012 at 10:28 am

    i cat wait for collage

  16. 16
    July 13th, 2012 at 6:12 am

    Thanks for all the tips, raising the bed up is a great way to gain personal space.

  17. 17
    November 27th, 2012 at 2:06 am

    I really liked the layout of these. My roomie and I set up the room where her bed is against the wall under the window. Mine is against the adjacent wall, perpendicular to hers. At the foot of my bed, pushed against my tall footboard and a couple feet from her bed is her desk. My desk sits next to my bed, facing her bed, but not as far forward as hers. This way we both have our own privatish space and when working at our desks we’re staggered and not staring at eachother. I also have a view right out the window from my desk but my bed is closer to the door so there’s a trade off. Unfortunately she has 8 outlets on her side of the room and I have 4, 2 of which are a foot off the ground and hard to get to. Only problems: she walks through my side whenever she leaves and comes in and I have to walk through her side to open the window or change the AC/heat.

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