From drab to fab: Dorm decorating with Carrie Griffin

This room in LSU's Miller Hall was transformed using products from the Southern-based dorm bedding company Room 422. To see the starting point, take a look at the before photo below. Photo via Room 422.

There’s only about a month to go until the parking lot of LSU’s Miller Hall is filled with excited girls, anxious parents, loaded-down Suburbans and the occasional 18-wheeler moving truck. I’m not joking, a lot goes into making those cubicle-sized concrete rooms feel like home. From professionally installed temporary lighting fixtures to Dad-installed laminate flooring, we’ve seen it all.

However, there’s no need to bring in the team from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition to take your dorm from drab to fab. Instead, we met with interior designer Carrie Griffin of Carrie Griffin Design for tips on how to upgrade a room with temporary touches that are bound to last.

The same basic LSU dorm room as pictured above, before decorating. Photo via Room 422.

“When designing a temporary space, you want it to be durable and not cause any damage to the existing structure,” says Griffin. “But we also want the room to feel like home and reflect our personal style.”

Many dorm-dwellers are living away from home for the first time and see their new room as the first place they get to put their stamp on. However, it can be challenging to get the look you want when you can’t repaint or put holes in the wall. For these reasons, Griffin suggests the application of self-adhesive, removable wallpaper to cover the cinderblocks or dress up a bookcase.

Neutral-colored, 5×7 washable rug from Ruggable. $120

“Wallpaper instantly adds style, pattern and color, but it can also be easily removed when you’re done with the space,” says Griffin.

The cold tile flooring in dorm rooms can also be an issue for those used to plush carpet back at home. Griffin recommends bringing in a rug that corresponds with the color scheme of your room. Ruggable sells washable rugs in all different sizes, colors and patterns. Being able to throw the rug in the wash is a huge bonus since dorm rooms can quickly collect dust and dirt.

However, the best thing when it comes to decorating the perfect dorm room is learning how to make the most out of little space. In a small room where every inch counts, it’s smart to use Command hooks and upholstered storage ottomans to keep things organized and beautiful.

“I think the key to designing a short-lived space is to have fun by using color and accessories you love, but also items that will serve multiple purposes and adapt to your next move,” says Griffin.


For more on Griffin, visit carriegriffindesign.com. And share your dorm room transformations with us on Instagram by tagging @inregister in your move-in day pictures.

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