Dorm rooms are the new interior design darling. With everything from gorgeous headboards and luxurious bedding to eye-catching lamps and artwork — plus chic and clever storage — these cement-walled spaces have come a long way in recent years. We’re going to take a look at some of these amazing student spaces, but first, we talked to some folks at the cutting edge of the dorm decor craze, who say that this is largely a Southern trend that’s taken off.

“Southern girls have always been drawn to creating a beautiful and functional space that feels more like what they have at home,” says Leigh Goodwyn, founder and CEO of LeighDeux. “For many, a luxurious dorm room can foster both comfort and stability and can help ease that transition from home to college. The dorm decor biz is now over a $6 billion industry.”

Mary Hawthorne, owner of Mary Hawthorne Interiors, agrees. “The trend toward a designed look is definitely growing beyond the South, but it is almost a ‘must’ for southern colleges such as Ole Miss, The University of Alabama and University of Georgia,” she says. “It’s also growing in popularity in smaller Georgia schools and even many private colleges in the South, like Wake Forest, and ACC schools like UNC-Chapel Hill. I really believe it is a trend following residential design.”

Kim Pitts, the mother of an Ole Miss student, helped design her daughter’s fabulous dorm room, and she views the trend through her daughter’s experience, saying, “I think social media has helped girls see exactly how home-like or glam they can make this first home away from home. In recent years, it has grown from simply matching bedding to an all-out designer showcase. Reveal days and photos are such a big deal for these girls.”

Take a peek at some of the most swoon-worthy southern dorm room designs, plus get some game-changing pro tips on how to transform your child’s dorm room into a gorgeous and comfy retreat, making it an ideal home away from home. Let’s take a look at 13 incredible SEC & ACC dorm rooms!

13 Swoon-Worthy SEC & ACC Dorm Rooms

Bold Colors & Edgy Pop Art

Leigh Goodwyn of Charlotte, North Carolina-based LeighDeux, creates a vibrant look with fun pop art mixed in with abstract pieces, a bold color palette, playful textures and patterns, and eye-catching decorative accents. These rooms are perfect for the art-forward college student.

University of Georgia

University of Georgia dorm room

This dorm room design was created for a client at the University of Georgia. Heavily influenced by fashion and art, this room features a fun Iris Apfel theme. Image: LeighDeux

UNC-Chapel Hill

Fashionista collection from LeighDeux

“This UNC-Chapel Hill student loved the edgy vibe of our Fashionista collection,” says Leigh. Image: LeighDeux

UNC-Chapel Hill

Student in UNC-Chapel Hill dorm room

“This student loves mixing pattern and color and is not afraid to go big with her design! She says ‘more is more,’ which I like a lot,” says Leigh. Image: LeighDeux

RELATED: The Top 5 Things Every Dorm Room Needs

Elegant & Youthful

“Our company was born out of a growing demand for more luxurious dorm rooms,” says Carolyn Greene, business manager of Dorm Decor, a Birmingham, Alabama-based company. Jennifer Cope, operations manager, adds, “Initially, Dorm Decor focused on the need for bed skirts and headboards designed to fit dorm room beds that are — for the most part — 30 to 38 inches tall. Those items are not readily available in the mainstream retail market. And we have since expanded our product line to create the ultimate one-stop shopping experience that will meet all dorm room design needs.”

“It’s important for young women to have bedding options that not only look elegant but also provide them with a comforting place to rest after a long day of classes,” says Jennifer. Made exclusively for Dorm Decor, the Dutch Euro is an oversized pillow that delivers in both style and comfort, as do their bedding offerings. “We offer a variety of soft fabrics such as velvet and suede, as well as linens with a touch of rayon that helps to fight any wrinkles,” adds Carolyn of the popular plush pillow. “Add one of our gorgeous custom monograms, and it could serve as a chic headboard.”

The University of Alabama

White bed with Dorm Decor skirt

Subtle yet impactful, bed skirts are key to a stylish dorm room. Not only do they look great, but they hide all the storage college kids inevitably have to utilize under the bed. “Our bed skirts tie onto the mattress springs to give you a perfect length every time,” says Jennifer. Image: Dorm Decor


Creative college storage

Dorm rooms demand creative storage to keep the space organized and tidy, so organizational pieces that seamlessly flow into the design aesthetics are key. Pieces like a dorm cubby, which attach to the bed, desk, nightstand or bed rail, come in different finishes and sizes, so they can meet individual storage needs. “All of our cubbies are easy to set up, won’t tip over and are built to last,” says Carolyn. And as a bonus, Dorm Decor provides in-room delivery and installation of its cubbies at select universities. Image: Dorm Decor

The University of Alabama

Headboard from Dorm Decor

This sturdy headboard is designed to work with almost any twin dorm bed. “It attaches directly onto the bed or can be attached to the bedposts with velcro straps. It comes with a mini tool kit and instructions, so set up is a breeze,” says Carolyn. From edgy cheetah and metallic designs to classic faux leather with nailhead trim and even rustic wooden looks, these headboards are a transformative dorm room design touch. Image: Dorm Decor

Luxe Minimalism

“Clean, sleek, minimalist, soothing,” says After Five Designs’ Dawn Thomas of her dorm room aesthetic. “I want it to look like a New York loft — somewhere they’d live when they are older.” And that intentionally more mature design scheme is no accident. “I think about it long-term. Can a piece last for five or even 10 years? After I work with them on their dorms, it balloons from there. I help them when they get married and the pieces from the dorm room transition to their home.” And Dawn is laser-focused on minimal clutter and optimal organization, even walking the girls through every drawer and closet organizer, wall hooks and shelves — down to efficient hangers that can rack five pairs of pants per hanger. It’s no wonder her highly functional and incredibly gorgeous dorm rooms have garnered this Jackson, Mississippi-based designer a coast-to-coast clientele.

Ole Miss

Ole Miss dorm room

These Ole Miss students worked with Dawn to custom-design every inch of this beautiful oasis. “Very little has to be custom, though. It just depends on what they want,” says Dawn. “This year’s hot item is framed Gucci and Hermès scarves, but you can use a less expensive scarf, and it looks just as good.” Image: Dawn Thomas

Mississippi State

Blackout drapery at Mississippi State

Comfort is key. Dawn says, “Blackout drapery is a must. And bedding consists of memory foam, feather bed, bed-bug protector, sheets, a blanket and either a custom-made foot warmer or a duvet at the foot.” Image: Dawn Thomas

Comfy & Chic

“Be practical with your design. Not every dorm can accommodate your dream ‘home away from home’,” says Mary Hawthorne of Valdosta, Georgia-based Mary Hawthorne Interiors. Mary often calls campus housing and requests floor plans to ensure a highly functional design. And she is quick to add, “You don’t have to sacrifice pretty to be practical. There are so many functional and attractive furniture pieces that ‘hide’ the ugly aspects of a room — the appliances, electrical wires and food. Be creative and make it your own. Your selections need to be a reflection of what makes you feel comfortable and happy.”

Wake Forest

Room decorated for birthday

“This client wanted a very feminine room that was also sophisticated and a true reflection of her personality. She moved in on her birthday, so we added final touches to the room before surprising her with the finished look,” says Mary. “I love that we were able to do a couple of fun rugs that added softness and warmth to the room.” Image: Mary Hawthorne Interiors

Ole Miss

Neutral and glamorous room

“These clients wanted neutral and glamorous — they wanted their room to feel elegant,” says Mary. “We loved that they selected their own original art pieces. This room has custom drapery and bedding, and we also used a removable wallpaper framed as a backdrop for their white headboards.” Image: Mary Hawthorne Interiors

A Sweet Suite

This spacious Ole Miss dorm room allows for side-by-side desks and even a sitting area for the lucky young ladies who call this room home. These BFFs worked with one of their moms, Kim Pitts, to create a dream dorm room. “The white and pinks we used in this room provide a crisp yet soft and welcoming environment. Glass lamps and a leather futon make the room feel modern without losing the warmth that makes the girls feel like they can kick their feet up at the end of a long day,” says Kim. “We loved the way our MKWheatley art over the futon tied the whole room together. She started her art business as a freshman herself, designing her own room, and now she does custom art for many rooms across the South. Also, the Hermès blankets over the girls’ chairs add a glam touch that is unique to their room.”

Ole Miss

Ole Miss dorm with color scheme

“Plan in advance and shop around. Find a color scheme you love, then run with it,” says Kim. Image: Kim Pitts

Ole Miss students

“There’s nothing wrong with getting ideas from rooms past, but don’t forget to make it uniquely yours,” says Kim. Image: Kim Pitts

Neutral Bohemian Chic

“Beautiful, neutral transitional rooms that are soothing to the eye and an inviting space,” says Your Perfect Dorm‘s Jody Dyke of her dorm aesthetic. “I like those neutral colors, because a lot of the time, these dorm rooms are small spaces, so it is more calming, and they make the spaces look bigger.” After the color palette, Jody’s attention turns to budget-conscious and storage-savvy matters. “You want to utilize every little space in a dorm room, so storage ottomans; bed skirts to hide storage; shoe racks for the inside of the door; a pull-out refrigerator stand; folding shelves on a desk; Command hooks for belts — you just have to be really smart about storage.” She completes her designs with blackout drapery, a soft rug or two, pretty lamps, and a stool or storage ottoman to give the girls a step up onto the tall beds. “It’s your home away from home, so you want to make it cozy and homey.”

RELATED: 10 Soothing Southern Bedrooms – Because We All Need a Happy Place Right Now

Louisiana State University

Room with gray color scheme

This crisp and calming design for an LSU client offers a comfortable and chic refuge after a busy day of learning. Image: Steve Schwartz

University of South Carolina

Bohemian-chic room

“I’d call this design I did for a South Carolina student ‘bohemian-chic’ with that ruffled linen,” says Jody. “The huge headboards really complete a room. The most popular are the white and the gray with nailhead trim.” Image: Steve Schwartz

Start planning now to take your child’s dorm room from drab to dazzling with these equally stylish and functional ideas.


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