9 Dorm Room Classics Schooled in Grown-Up Style

Not too long ago, I worked for a local college, and also the first time I got a peek inside one of the dorms on campus, my jaw dropped. Gone would be the warrens of small rooms and simple, spare furniture that I remember from my college days — those were full suites, decked out with comfortable couches and chairs, well-equipped kitchens, ambient lighting and walk-in closets. (By comparison, my freshman roommate and I felt swanky because we had matching comforters and also a sink in our room)

But there’s something to be said for the beloved staples of dorms ago: futons and papasan chairs, modular cable shelving and milk-crate storage. With the right strategy, there’s no reason you can’t work some of those nostalgic classics into a grown-up space. Try out these two ideas to begin.

Kristen Rivoli Interior Design

1. Futon. The ultimate dorm space multitasker, a futon can be anything it needs to be: a place where friends can stack on with all the popcorn on film night, a place for extending out and studying for finals, a crash pad for a pal who’s locked herself out of her room. And its flexibility makes it a great addition to a grownup space as well.

The gap? Styling. Rather than the lumpy old futon handed down out of the roommate’s big sister, pick a slick design such as this one. Give it a worldly note with global-patterned throw cushions and lift it using a restrained, neutral setting.

Robert Young Architects

A futon strikes the best relaxed note in this restful sitting area. Because it sits low to the floor, it doesn’t dominate the low-slung space. The monochromatic palette keeps the focus on the to-die-for view from the window just as it should be.

Artisan Books

2. Board and cinder block shelving. Before the dawn of Ikea, this guaranteed approach to storage has been almost de rigeur for short lived life. But that is no reason to settle for raw 2-by-4s and crumbling concrete. In this elegant yet cheeky space, cinder blocks using an appealing grid pattern are topped with planks painted white, a thoroughly inviting twist on the old favorite.

Annie McElwain Photography

3. Milk crates. Remember those huge plastic milk crates which you used for stashing books, CDs and snacks? Here’s the stylish version: weathered wooden crates mounted on the wall and flipped into shelves for decorative accessories. There … that’s better.

sarah & bendrix

4. Task lighting. What is a dorm room without a flexible-arm task lamp for late-night cramming? This basic has migrated to other areas of the house, and its own industrial lines include a little advantage to a room. Try substituting it at which you might be tempted to use a conventional table lamp, as in this dwelling room.

Nicole Lanteri Design

5. Shower-curtained closets. If your dorm room has been anything like mine, your closet was an open niche with a rod and a few hooks. The remedy: shower curtains. There are loads of these on the market that offer high fashion on a student budget (even though your bank account is in better shape these days). This nursery carries that idea at a more upscale fashion, using a pretty curtain to soften the cabinet door and raise the area’s palette.

Kim Armstrong

7. Concert posters. You road-tripped to this show in another state and pulled into town just in time to ace your midterm, and you still have the poster to prove it. Rather than sticking it on the wall with thumbtacks, frame it into a grouping of additional band posters and hang them at a gallery-style arrangement. It is mature but still fun.

Carey Dodson

Or you could take the opposite strategy: Choose your favorite poster, then display it on a blank wall for a clean, picture touch.

Jenn Hannotte / Hannotte Interiors

8. Butterfly chairs. These folding chairs have become synonymous with dorm layout, but they’re actually one of those excellent furniture icons of the contemporary age. Restore them to the prominence they deserve by deciding on a version at a good-quality material such as leather, and use them to enhance the casual feel of your space or loosen up a conventional layout.

FORMA Design

This simple set of butterfly chairs signifies a brand new take on garden furniture. Their sculptural lines are all the ornamentation the balcony needs.

Kia Designs

9. Loft beds. You or your dad probably sweated through an afternoon of constructing a wooden platform, then heaving your bed in addition to it so you could save yourself an additional few feet of floor space. Take this idea to a different degree (no pun intended) with custom built-ins and a simple platform-style bed, such as this setup.

Butler Armsden Architects

Sleekly paneled walls, pared-down design and a slender ladder take this attic bed far beyond youth variations.

Tell us : What budget-friendly decor did you have in your dorm room, and how can you update them into your house? Share under!

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