What Every College Dorm Room Needs, According to Designer Bobby Berk

Find 10 ways to personalize your dorm room, according to a pro.

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August 03, 2023

August is here, which means summer is approaching its end. For some, that means college is on the horizon. As you begin to prepare for this next chapter of life, make sure to think about everything you’ll need to make the most of university. While textbooks and a meal plan are necessities, interior designer and Queer Eye star, Bobby Berk, reminds us of the mental health benefits of thoughtfully decorating the spaces we inhabit. With that in mind, ahead, find 10 things every dorm room needs, according to Bobby himself.

A Personal Touch

Since dorm rooms tend to be pretty cookie-cutter, Bobby says that it’s great to add a personal touch to your space. “It’s important to make your room personal because you’ll be spending so much of your time there and you really want it to represent who you are,” he says. This is especially key if you’re hoping to avoid any feelings of homesickness.

While there are many ways to add a personal touch to your space, perhaps the easiest route is with art. Whether you want to cover your walls in posters, pictures, framed prints or magazine clippings, Bobby, who is Command’s Director of Dorm Design, says that using Command Picture Hanging Strips ($3.19) and Command Poster Strips ($12) will allow you to do so without damaging your dorm’s walls.

Statement Bedding

As convenient as a neutral bed-in-a-bag dorm set may seem, Bobby suggests seeking out statement bedding to liven up your room. “Bedding is a great way to bring in more color and fun patterns to your space,” he says. “If you have the budget, I recommend gifting your dormmate the same or color-coordinated bedding — you look like a hero giving a gift while also defining the narrative of the space!”

Good Sheets

Comforters might be most important in terms of bed aesthetics but according to Bobby, good sheets are just as, if not even more, necessary. When shopping for dorm-friendly sheets, look for twin XL options and opt for cotton, bamboo or eucalyptus fibers, as they’re not only soft but breathable, too.

A High-Quality Pillow

Another must-have bedding item in Bobby’s book is a comfortable pillow. “I personally love the Casper Original Pillow ($55),” he shares.

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A Top-Notch Mattress Topper

Since sleep is of the utmost importance in college — and because many students admittedly don’t get enough of it amidst all the fun of the school year — Bobby suggests investing in a high-quality mattress topper to help make the most of whatever sleep you do get. “With so many classes and activities in college, it’s important to make sure you’re getting a good night's sleep,” he says.

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Table and Floor Lamps

While many dorm rooms come equipped with overhead lighting, Bobby recommends bringing your own lamps into the space. “There’s nothing worse for your eyes than a single desk lamp when you’re trying to study,” he says. “Make sure you bring in multiple good lights and consider using lamp shades as they diffuse the light and create a nice glow instead of harsh lighting.”

Organic Elements

Surrounding yourself with greenery — whether fake or real — can lift your mood and create a more peaceful space overall. “I’m a big believer in bringing in plants to freshen up your space,” Bobby shares. While larger plants fare best in plant stands, smaller plants can be displayed in decorative vases or hanging planters with vines draped along shelves and across the wall. “You can use Command Clear Decorating Clips ($10) to hang plant vines or Command 20 lbs Picture Hanging Strips ($6) to hang up wall-mounted planters throughout your space,” Bobby explains.

Storage Galore

Dorm rooms are small, so they can get pretty cramped if you don’t learn how to curb clutter. “Limit as much clutter as you can, because this creates distraction, and chaos around you creates chaos in your mind,” Bobby says. “Opt for organizational solutions like furniture with built-in storage, under-bed storage and back-of-the-door storage.”

Pro Tip: You can add extra hanging storage anywhere in your room with the Command X-Large Hooks ($7), Bobby says. “They can hold up to 15 pounds to hang your bookbag, jacket, scarves, belts and more,” he points out. “This is a great way to utilize space that is often overlooked for storage and organization.”

A Smart Hub

Nowadays, smart speakers and hubs are mainstays in homes everywhere. While some people aren’t the fondest of the concept that a device is always listening to you, there’s no denying that these high-tech gadgets are incredibly convenient.

“They’re great for keeping organized because you can tell it instantly when you think of something to add to your to-do list or calendar,” Bobby says, noting that he’s a fan of the Google Nest Hub ($100). “Plus, with the screen, you can also use it to call your parents, grandparents or friends and family back home.”

A Floor-Length Mirror

Most dorm rooms don’t come with floor-length mirrors. While some people might think that a small bathroom mirror will suffice or even an over-the-door mirror, Bobby recommends opting for a full floor-length mirror. “Mirrors are not only helpful for staying stylish but also make small rooms feel larger and reflect light to make the space feel brighter,” he says.

For more dorm-styling ideas, be sure to watch Queer Eye Season 7 to watch Bobby and the other members of the Fab Five make over a fraternity house in New Orleans.

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