How to Turn Your Teen's Bedroom Into Their Dream Dorm Room

With remote learning and virtual classes on tap for the fall 2020 semester, it's time to transform childhood bedrooms into college-worthy spaces with these teen room ideas.

Instead of this fall being full of newfound independence for teens heading off to college, it's become a season of tempered expectations as COVID-19 worries pivot many universities to remote learning and virtual college courses. As a result, many teens will be living at home in their childhood bedrooms instead of campus dormitories. However, with a little creativity, they can still create mature new spaces for their new chapter in life, turning their room—or possibly even that unused attic or basement space—into a great new at-home dorm room (high school students doing virtual school can also get in on the act). Here's how to do it.

back view of student working on desk
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Change Up the Decor Vibe

Don't forget to embrace the back-to-school shopping spirit no matter where classes will take place, urge experts. Moving into a dorm room is such a fun time for a student, and so many won't get that experience this year, says organizing expert Rachel Rosenthal. Indulge a little with some colorful back-to-school items like a pretty pen set or a custom desk set. A few new things will make starting freshman year, even at home, feel more special and less like this spring's online learning, adds Rosenthal.

Make the space fun, enthuses Memphis-based interior stylist and design blogger Laquita Tate. Adding a feature wall using wallpaper or simply a bold color that's different from the rest will give a room flair, she says. And don't forget to add pictures of friends by having them take a fun selfie that can be printed and hung up, says Jennifer Graham, director of residence life services at Clarion University of Pennsylvania (they can also turn their friends into pillows for hugs without any COVID worries). Graham also recommends decorating with university swag, so students can immerse in their new school's spirit.

Set Up a Study Space

First things first: A place to study that feels both comfortable and personal. They'll need a place to work, but consider a drafting table or console if a desk isn't a fit in their space, says Taylor Hill of Fernish. Include room for electronics, including multiple outlets and lightening ports. An ergonomically designed X-Chair that conforms to the student's body is the ultimate study comfort, or use a standing desk to keep them moving throughout the day. And don't forget a desk lamp so they can read without straining their eyes (you might as well get some last-minute parenting in while you can).

Add Plenty of Storage Options

A dorm-like space also needs storage, says designer Tate. Consider a nice bookcase where baskets can be used on the bottom shelf for storing extra notebooks, pens, and other supplies. The other shelves could be used to store schoolbooks and books for leisure reading. An underbed trunk or a trunk placed at the end of the bed are other great storage units.

Put Their New Schedule on Display

Have your student create a separation between school and home by using a desk calendar or white board on the wall to write out upcoming assignments. Or get them an Acrylic Dry Erase Calendar to put on the outside of the bedroom door so students can alert family that they're in class or studying.

Give Bedding a Boost

While having a dedicated study space is important, it's equally imperative to have a comfortable bed and space to relax from studying and get a good night's rest. As the main focal point of a bedroom, bedding is a key place to showcase style through pillows, throws, and even curtains, say the experts at Decorist who recently worked with Bed, Bath, and Beyond to create a College at Home collection. New sheets and a stylish comforter, such as soft organic cotton options from Allswell, will be able to transition from home to school to whenever they're ready. Fun throw pillows add pops of color and personal style. Add a chair for relaxing, so they don't have to sit at their desk in their downtime, like a comfy beanbag from Fatboy.

Add Plants

Living with plants changes you, say the plant experts at Costa Farms (check out their plant finder to choose the perfect room option). They cheer up a room any time of year, help teens become more responsible, and keep room air naturally filtered. Plus they're a great decor element, and in a wall mounted planter won't take up much space in a small room.

Stock Up on Snacks

Nothing says "teen dorm room" like late night snacking, was the consensus of all of our experts. Every home dorm should have a small refrigerator stocked with drinks (there are even mini fridges just big enough for a 6-pack of soda). Add a basket with healthy snacks like granola bars and jerky, suggests Tate. If you've been able to carve out an apartment like space in the basement or attic, add a Tovala oven; it looks like a toaster but is a steam oven, and since it scans labels and automatically knows how to cook them, your teen won't burn down the house if they get distracted. (And they can take it to school with them when things get back to normal). Or fill their mini fridge with nourishing grab and go salads and wraps like the ones delivered from Farmer's Fridge.

For healthy drinks, a sleek SodaStream can add fizz to everyday tap water, and a mini Keurig can fill any caffeine cravings. Who knows, they may even invite you in for a cup of coffee in their newly decorated home dorm space.

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