Dorm Room DIY (Can I Get a Do-Over?!)

By Laura Faison on Jul 14, 2015

When I started college and moved into my first dorm room (gasp!) 13 years ago, Pinterest wasn’t even on my radar yet (Facebook wouldn’t show up for another 3 years, and don’t get me started on having to WAIT for your school to be added!).

I was introduced to my roommate via a letter – in the mail.  I ordered my bedding (including that lovely egg carton mattress pad) with a paper order form and a check.

That’s right, snail mail.

By today’s standards, I started college in the Stone Age.


Hello purple!

Dorm Room 2

My roomate, Elisabeth, and her wall decor. At least our bedspreads matched!

So when I look back at pictures of my first dorm room, I like to think that my lack of creative inspiration is to blame for my pink/purple/Hello Kitty (don’t ask)/things stuck on the wall with scotch tape half of the room.  My roommate’s side wasn’t much better, and most of the rooms on our hall looked similar.

Much like parts of my wedding, I would love the chance for a “dorm room do-over” in the day and age of Pinterest, Houzz, and endless blogs full of inspiration.  Instead, I’ll share a few DIY projects that I’ve done around the house that can easily be adapted for your (or your college students) dorm room or first apartment!

Patina Spray and Brass Lamps

Who knew you could fake a patina look with spray paint!

New lamps

Brass to patina – super easy!

I’d had these “brass” buffet lamps since my senior year/first apartment.  They’re great, don’t take up much space, and add height to a room with tall ceilings.  But the brass look wasn’t my ‘thang these days (or any day for that matter).  One day I came across this patina spray paint set on sale at A.C. Moore, and decided to try it out on the lamps – so glad I did!  Check out this awesome transformation to grown up looking lamps!

Unfinished mirrors

Cheap (lightweight) mirrors make great wall fillers!

Finished mirrors

Finished mirrors above our bed (and a really crooked picture – oops!)

Another super-easy project that can easily spruce up a dorm room (and add dimension!) are small, inexpensive mirrors.  These IKEA mirrors came from our Ironbridge Road Goodwill store for a whopping $5.25 for all of them!  (There was a sixth one and, well, he didn’t fare so well with the first round of paint.)  With a few coats of paint (acrylic in this case because it’s the only navy blue I had on hand) and these little beauties added some height and appeal to an otherwise drab wall!  (Side note – the square cutouts in the center of these frames are the perfect size for Instagram photos, too!)


Super simple no sew curtains thanks to

My latest DIY inspiration are these curtains, made completely from burlap and paint to create an expensive look for way less.  The great thing about this lightweight fabric is that you can hang these curtains with Scotch removable hooks and mounting tape!

The key to a dorm room (your half at least!) or first apartment is making it an expression of yourself and your own style.  Whether it’s in the bedding you choose or the things you hang on the wall, make it your own space.  Spend these last few weeks crafting, collecting and getting ready for one of the best times of your life!


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