I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for interior design. Always have been, always will be, I have worked with the griffin design interior design denver team several times already. When I was a kid, I binge-watched HGTV like it was the Cartoon Network and every day was Saturday morning. I guess I’ve just always loved how people’s personalities shine through in their personal spaces – through their choice of lighting, wall decor, and upholstery. And that certainly didn’t change when it came time for me to shop for my first year dorm at the University of Virginia.

I spent an ungodly amount of time this summer  fretting over my dorm room: how I was going to arrange the furniture, decorate, organize, clean – the whole shebang. So, I figured I’d pass on my new collegiate residential wisdom along with the rest of the Prospect team. I asked our lovely staff members to send me snapshots of their college spaces, along with a short blurb about them – their favorite item(s) in their dorm, dorm shopping tips, or any organization or design suggestions. Below, you’ll find the fabulous submissions I received:

Maya Todd, Maryville University ‘18

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I’m seriously digging Maya’s jersey displays – it’s an inventive way to show off your school or professional team spirit using things you already own!

Maya says: “My favorite part is definitely the wall above my bed and a space saving tip would be under the bed containers and sorting through all of your stuff early especially if you have a lot like I did.”

Andrea Villa, Stanford University ‘18

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Andrea’s room is so light and airy. I’m feeling more relaxed and zen just looking at it.

Andrea says: “I was really happy about the large windows and white walls that give the room a sense of open space. My favorite part was making a bulletin board of pictures and letters from friends. I like being able to look up to it when I am working.”

Chloe Lee, University of Southern California ‘18

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Chloe’s space is beautifully balanced: cozy, but not cramped.

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I can’t get enough of Chloe’s desk setup. Her all-too-important study snacks are at the ready, her darling paper lanterns are draped just so, and her plush llama is too cute for words.

Chloe says: “Go to Target to find dorm stuff before going to Bed Bath and Beyond. It’s cheaper!”

Joanna FloresFordham University ‘17

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Joanna’s little bed nook looks so comfy and inviting. I love that her books are right within her reach!

Joanna says: “My bed is super low, so when I make it in the morning, I put the pillows along the wall and turn it into a makeshift daybed. It makes it more inviting to sit on,  instead of napping.”

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Joanna’s organization has me hanging my head in scholarly shame.

Joanna says: “Writing on my window with Expo as another at-a-glance of what’s coming up in classes (especially with midterms).

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Joanna’s view and desk organization both get an A+ from me.

Joanna says: “My general desk set up. 10/10 recommend this bookstand: It gives me SO much desk space, especially with huge textbooks!” She also loves this desk organizer. “10/10, totally recommend. I can fit all of my textbooks neatly, storage binders, and extra copy and filler paper. It leave me with so much desk and work space!”

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And of course, a dorm room is never complete without a few posters and canvases (and for the record, I love you too, coffee. I love you too).

Isabella Chirico, Vassar College ’17

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Isabella’s electric votive candles are such a cool spin on your typical college dorm twinkle lights.

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Isabella has precious baby guinea pigs in her dorm room. This is not a drill, ladies and gents. This is not a drill.

Isabella says: “While my dorm isn’t the nicest on campus, it does have the greatest number of singles. Because I live in a single I have two adorable guinea pigs name Tilly (gray) and Dicey (multicolored) who are shown in some of the photos. I really enjoy having a single because it allows me to make big decisions like having the girls and how to decorate my room with having to consult anyone else.”

Beth Watson, University of Virginia ‘18

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I tried to make my entire room as cozy and colorful as physically possible.

Protip: do whatever you can to give yourself some bedside space for your alarm clock and a lamp (perfect for when you need some more study time and your roommate needs some shut-eye); I was able to use my windowsill, but get creative if you can’t.

Also: don’t be afraid to make your space totally your own. Does my Frozen poster, UVa pillow pet, and borderline abuse of the color pink make my room look like it belongs to someone half my age? Sure. Do I care? Not even a little bit.

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My wall contains my life’s great loves: UVA, Broadway theatre, coffee, and pictures of my dog.

Target is your very best friend for all things dorm decor, followed by T.J. Maxx. Pottery Barn Teen is fantastic for bedspreads, but only if you’re ready to make a hefty investment in your dorm design. I waited until my bedspread of choice was on sale, and am planning on using it for all four years of college to keep my consumer guilt at bay.

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The golden rule of dorm organization: if possible, loft your bed and store as much underneath it as humanly possible.

Storage bins are a lifesaver and my appreciation for them knows no bounds. Invest in them. Make use of them. Love them.

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Coffee nook + Parks & Recreation screencap decorated fridge + ridiculously comfy office chair = perfect happiness

Two simple ways to make your room feel instantly like home: bring your own coffee maker and office chair. The dining hall coffee will taste of bitterness and disappointment, and the chair that comes with your room will be hard, rickety, and if it’s the type that rocks back, kind of a deathtrap. So take my advice and let your Keurig and your swivel chair tag along for your college journey – you won’t regret it.

So there you have it, collegiate ladies and gentlemen. You’ve been welcomed into our cribs and heard all of our dorm design secrets. May the knowledge that you’ve received serve you well when you move into your next dorm, apartment, sorority house, or fraternity house. The Prospect’s staff just knows you’re going to make your spaces phenomenal



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the author

Elizabeth Watson (just call her Beth) is a senior at an itty-bitty private Catholic high school in Virginia. In addition to writing for The Prospect, she writes and performs sketch comedy with her improv troupe, rehearses like mad for school theatre productions, suits up for forensics competitions, and writes poetry for her school’s literary magazine. A brief rundown of Beth’s favorite people and things ever to exist in no particular order: hole-in-the-wall bookshops, sweaters, Jane Eyre, peppermint tea (in a Troy and Abed mug, of course), Broadway musicals, British period dramas, Neil Patrick Harris, and Hugh Jackman. Beth’s long-term goal in life to is to become Julie Andrews, but for now she’s focusing on surviving the final stretch of high school and getting into college–hopefully as an English major

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