How to Organize Your Dorm Room Around a Color Scheme

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Purple and Pink Color Scheme

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If you’re like me, the very first thing you thought of after mailing your college enrollment deposit was, "I can't wait to decorate my dorm room!" Never mind the more pressing concerns of choosing a major or signing up for the best classes, the prospect of designing a personal living space for the first time was enough to get me thinking ceaselessly about color palettes and fitted sheets. After all, real life does begin when you wave goodbye to your parents, and what better way to start afresh than with a new room?

Over the weeks ahead, I'll be sharing some tips on how to creatively and inexpensively turn a standard-issue dorm room into a welcoming environment you can truly call home--one that reflects your unique personality, but also isn’t devoid of practicality or efficiency.

Today, we're going to start with the basics: Choosing a color scheme for your room and organizing your dorm around it. This process will provide a foundation that will help the rest of your room to come together beautifully. Ready to learn more? Read on.

How to Choose a Dorm Room Color Scheme

Color Palette

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The simplest way to tie your room together is to select a basic color palette and start from there. Choose eye-pleasing colors that suit your personality, but also exercise caution—stick with 3-4 basic colors, from the same or similar families (click here for a helpful color family chart) and choose no more than 1-2 colors that aren’t in the same color family but which complement your original choices. These extra 1-2 colors give you more freedom when choosing more minor furnishings, and also break up a potentially monotonous color scheme with a touch of surprise.

Here are some sample color schemes I arranged, and their furniture counterparts:

1. Inspired by the Sea

Dorm room color scheme inspired by the sea

Lamp, Curtains, Rug, Bedding

The sea has always held a special attraction for me, and I love how these light blues and seafoam greens complement each other so well, especially with the warm oatmeal color as a neutral base.

This color scheme definitely has a more relaxed vibe, which can make your room a welcome respite from your hectic schedule. The off-white tone of the bedding puts a fresh twist on traditionally solid or white bedspreads, and the print’s oatmeal accents set off the warmth of the room nicely. The curtains let in just enough natural light, the t-shirt rug adds a bit of fun, and the lampshades provide calm, soothing lighting perfect for studying or hanging out with friends.

2. This Season's Brights, Year Round

Brightly colored purple and yellow dorm room color scheme

Bedding, Pillows, Rug, Curtains

Bring this season’s brights to your dorm all year round with this cheery color scheme! This palette provides a welcome relief from the usual overwhelmingly pink dorm room, and the yellows project warmth alongside the cooler purples.

As far as individual pieces go, sunny gingham curtains mute the lighting, and the bold graphic on the bedding is an invitation for guests to come in and chat. The shag rug is irresistible as a place to sit, and the bright throw pillows are the perfect thing to hug while having long conversations. In this arrangement, the hot pink is balanced with pastels, representing the perfect transition between youth and maturity.

More Tips & Tricks for Using Color Schemes

  • Make sure to contact your roommate(s), if applicable, as soon as possible about your dorm. Matching bedspreads might not be feasible, but perhaps she would be interested in coordinating color schemes. Try to find common ground on at least one color, and build from there.
  • Unsure which color scheme suits you best? Choose a favorite photograph or image an utilize this color palette finder, which takes your image and picks out the five most prominent colors, giving you a handy scheme to start with. You could also browse sites like ColourLovers for more ideas, or open up Photoshop and sift through HEX codes at your discretion. Either way, images you naturally gravitate towards are a good indication of which colors fit your personality.
  • If you like to see your color selections in action, Design Your Dorm is a fabulous site that offers over 140 different college dorm room layouts (specific to your school!). You can drag-and-drop in three-dimensional beds, furniture, or décor, and rearrange them to find the perfect layout.

Want More Dorm Tips?

If you're looking for even more tips on designing your dorm, don't miss our past posts on college dorm room shopping, dorm organization tips, and dorm room decorating inspired by Blair Waldorf, just to start. See our dorm room section for even more.

And don't forget to check back over the next few weeks for more dorm room posts, where we'll be tackling topics such as...

  • How to create a room layout: Our best tips for creating the most aesthetically pleasing dorm
  • Tackling the major shopping: Beds, furniture, rugs, etc.
  • Having fun with the minor shopping: wall décor, but not just posters—decals, creative picture displays, and canvas prints; conversation pieces, jewelry organizers, and more
  • New ways to stay organized: unique and efficient ways to stay on top of your life
  • Fun office supplies: the sweetest equipment you can have for school. After all, what’s life without whimsy?

Tried it? Loved it? Let us know!

Which color schemes did you select? Did you come up with a creative way to blend different colors, or have a story about your dorm-room decorating experience? What tips do you have for college students setting out to furnish their dorms for the first time? Let us know with a comment!

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