So you’ve moved out of your parents' house. Now what? 

Tips and tricks to create an “a e s t h e t i c” yet functional space.

Let’s say you’re about to move out of your house and go off to college. Moving into a dorm or first apartment may be the first time you’re able to decorate starting from scratch since you were a kid. This space should be a place where stress dissipates, not where stress is created--- even if your area is small or shared with another person. After seemingly endless days of studying, working, and balancing everything else, you deserve to retire to a space that beckons you home. This ideally stress-free zone should represent your authentic style, cater to your lifestyle, and use space effectively. To cultivate a creative looking space, you must use space creatively.

A e s t h e t i c

Comfort + Style

For me, style and comfort are indistinguishable from one another --- I can’t have one without the other. I can’t feel stylish if I’m not comfortable and I don’t feel comfortable if I don’t feel stylish. This dynamic translates into the rooms I create for myself. Bright colors balanced with cozy textures strikes the perfect balance for me. I love the visual appeal of rich, jewel tones like burgundy, navy blue, and mustard yellow. Colors like these are a feast for the eyes --- interesting but not harsh. While color pulls me in, texture keeps me captivated. Accessories like sweater knit blankets and faux-fur pillows have the power to keep me in bed all day long. This pairing of style and comfort, color and texture are what make a space authentic for you as an individual. 

Faux fur pillow 

Fleece blanket 


The walls of a dorm or first apartment may not be the color you would pick for yourself. Living in a dorm, there is a high likelihood that your walls may be cement blocks. But don’t fear; there are many possible solutions. You can cover these unsightly walls with a large wall hanging, tapestry, or temporary wallpaper. (In compliance with your residence hall or landlord, of course.) Build your space and color palette around the biggest statement which will likely be whatever you choose to hang on your walls. All other accessories should coordinate with or balance out the focal point. 



Lighting is a major key to creating a stress-free zone. Your dorm or apartment might only have fluorescent overhead lighting but there are ways to overcome this tragedy. Warm-toned string lights can create a totally cozy ambiance. If that’s not your vibe, go for a fun neon lamp, colored string lights, or even color-changing LEDs. Keep in mind, if you’re limited on space, hanging lights will free up room on the floor for bigger furniture pieces.

String lights

L i f e s t y l e

Creative Space

It’s easy to turn a customized space into a hot mess when your life is overrun with clutter like mine often is. In an attempt to combat my disorderly lifestyle, I fill my room with storage items. However, storage doesn’t have to mean cheap plastic drawers. One of my most useful storage spaces is a vintage trunk from my great grandmother. This piece, in particular, minimizes the appearance of clutter while adding character and personality to the space. Adding storage with meaning can add so much to a room, even if it doesn’t hold decades of sentimental value. Try to look for innovative storage opportunities at antique stores, flea markets, or thrift shops.

Double-duty Furniture

Decorative items like footrests or end tables should maximize space. Rather than using an end table beside your bed, use a shelf or drawer. If you’re living in a dorm, use an attachable tray instead of a bedside table. This frees up floor space and allows access to nighttime necessities. To utilize the space you have, try to draw the eye upward. Hang decorative yet functional shelves on your walls to hold pictures, candles, books, plants, accessories, etc. This will make your room feel more like you while decluttering the surfaces of your bigger furniture pieces. 


Wall shelf
Effortless Illusions

To create the appearance of a more spacious room, use mirrors. A wide, free-standing mirror is perfect for styling outfits or taking mirror selfies with your friends. It also makes a room feel more spacious without doing a single renovation. 

Full-length mirror

Zoe Brown