Goodwill Events and Promostions

Dorm Room Designs

Posted by Holly Hirsch on Sep 14, 2011 1:38:00 PM

Location: UW-Parkside, Kenosha, Wisconsin

Pike River Suites at UW Parkside in Kenosha is brand new. In fact, the first residents moved in this semester. It was great fun to furnish a room for the very first time. We outfitted two rooms, one for women and the other for men, for less than $540 with items from Goodwill!

The rooms in Pike River are set up like suites. They feature two bedrooms and a shared bath. Each room has plenty of floor space to arrange furniture and bring in chairs or even sofas. The walk-in closets can accommodate any fashionista!

Women’s Dorm

Like many design projects, I looked for an inspiration before starting the women’s room.

I found it in this beautiful duvet cover with stylized flowers in coral, pink and lime green. Once I settled on this spread, it was easy to concentrate on coordinates.

Lots of colorful pillows are a must for sitting in bed. They add another jolt of color to the white room.

The room is big enough to arrange the beds in a variety of ways. Lofting beds is popular with students. It gives them more floor space. I found a stripe duvet in the same colors for the upper bunk.

Each student gets a dresser, a hutch, a desk and chair. We moved one dresser into the closet and placed a hutch on the other. It’s a great way to display your collectibles, photos and books.

One desk fits at the end of the bed and the other was placed parallel to the upper bunk. The ceilings are very high, so the second hutch and art work fill in the wall space.

No need to pound nails in the wall when you can lean art. Add some accessories in coordinating colors and you have a great display.

The other end of the room had enough space for two funky chairs and an area rug. I found a great lime green stripe rug to anchor the seating area.

Instead of a traditional coffee table, a wicker trunk serves the same purpose and provides storage. It was pure luck to find a little round table in the inspiration colors.

The two folding chairs were also great finds. The paisley quilted one was brand new and the fuzzy pink was a bargain at $4.99.

Even the artwork came from the stores. There is something for everyone’s taste at Goodwill.

It was a beautiful sunny day when we set up the rooms. Every window has mini blinds, but students are allowed to hang their own curtains. These sheer scarves are tied and pinned to tension rods. No sewing necessary and they match the rest of the bedding.

Kenosha girls big

Men’s Dorm

UW Parkside school colors are black, green and white. I was very excited to find a multi-tone green bedspread and a black one for the men’s room.

Men like to relax too, so pillows are necessary for every bed.

Placing the beds in a traditional bunk style leaves plenty of floor space for furniture arranging.

We put one desk under the window to take advantage of natural sunlight and the other across the room with a bulletin board for notes and reminders.

Each dorm room comes with a desk chair that transforms into a game chair! Take the seat off the wheeled base and you can rock and roll and play video games all night long. Very cool.

In the men’s room, we put both dressers in the closet and stacked the two hutches to create one shelving unit.

This set up gave us plenty of space for toiletries, sport accessories and food.

The windows in this bedroom were shorter than the women’s room so the ready-made curtains I found at Goodwill were a perfect fit. The tab top heading and tension rods make installation a 30 second snap.

As in the women’s room, there was plenty of floor space for a couple of chairs, tables and lamps.

The black faux leather chair was a real bargain at $25.00. The cube in micro fiber opens for storage. The chrome and glass table and paper floor lamp create a contemporary look.

The other chair is an outdoor lounge chair covered with a green and white stripe shower curtain. The NASCAR pillow goes with the racing posters on the wall.

The lucky students who get to live in Pike River Suites will have a great college experience.

Kenosha boys

Location: Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Cobeen Hall

Cobeen Hall at Marquette University is one of the women’s dorms on campus. Horizontal stripes in hot pink greet students as they get off the elevators. The rooms, however, are a blank slate with white walls and dark carpeting.

As in most college dorms, beds can be arranged in several ways. We chose to “bunk” the beds to give the room more floor space. I had no trouble finding lots of purple bedding and accessories to furnish a room for two. Turquoise in several shades is a great compliment to purple. Turquoise is also the “color of the year” so the choice was right on target!

The lower bunk has a retro, shag style duvet cover with matching pillow shams.

And the upper bed is dressed in a soft, shimmery spread. Both are topped with lots of throw pillows, a necessity for lounging.

What room would be complete without comfy floor pillows too? The rug isn’t actually a rug. It’s a great piece of fabric someone donated to the store. I just love the texture and color. Spread it on the floor, it adds color and softness to the room. And it was only $9.99, a lot cheaper than an area rug!

A wicker side chair, with pillows, adds more seating and two little rattan stools can serve as tables or seats. It just depends on how you top them, a tray or a pillow.

The rooms at Cobeen Hall are oriented toward a courtyard. The curtains are standard dorm room draperies, but coordinating scarves really dress up the space and add color. No sewing is necessary. Simply loop them or tie around the existing rod until you get a drape and swag you like.

Students each get their own closet but share a common dresser topped with a bulletin board. Not one for leaving a space untouched, I covered the bulletin board with an extra pillow case! And there’s plenty of room for a funky mirror and accessories.

Desks and shelving are attached to the opposite wall. Each student can make her niche unique with personal accessories and memorabilia.

Of course a dorm room would not be complete if it didn’t show off school spirit.

We did this entire room with items from various Goodwill stores for only $261.00—An amazing bargain!

Marquette cobeen

O'Donnell Hall-Marquette

O'Donnell Hall, a men's only dorm, has good sized rooms, built-in desks and ample closet space. Even though the rooms are fairly large, many students elect to rent loft beds to allow for even more floor space. Although the drawer fronts and closet dorms are turquoise laminate, it's still possible to create a personal space on a budget.

Since this is an all male dorm, I was looking for a color scheme that would be masculine. I found black bedding and I chose bright lime green to compliment it. The green adds a bold punch. The room has wall-to-wall carpeting, but an area rug helps to separate the sleeping/relaxing space from the working side of the room. I wanted to create three distinct spaces: loft sleeping, studying and relaxing.

Lofting the beds allows space for a chair. This beige folding chair fits perfectly and can be hidden away if more floor room is needed.

Throw pillows and an extra blanket at the end of the bed make the room welcoming.

The built-in desk/dresser drawers aren't moveable, but do allow for ample room to spread out home work. Each student can personalize his own half of the room with lots of accessories.

Shelves not only hold books, but keep toiletries handy and out of the way.

We covered the walls with sports posters and pictures and had enough floor space for an extra chair and CD stand. The entire room was furnished with items from Goodwill for only $186.00.

Marquette odonell

Room #2

We went wild with school spirit in the second room at O'Donnell Hall! This room also has the turquoise laminate on the drawer fronts and the closet doors, but again, we are able to create a nice, cozy personal space.

Instead of lofting beds, we choose to bunk them. There is still plenty of floor space, enough for a rug, chair and bedside table.

Denim bedspreads went well with the Marquette school colors. The top bunk looks like a blue jean duvet cover. The lower bunk is a patchwork of faded blue tones. Top with lots of pillows and bunk beds become a comfy haven.

We were able to replace the basic draw drapes with aslightly gathered valance made from additional denim fabric.

No dorm room is complete without a good desk lamp, coffee mug and clock. Accessories in blue and gold from Goodwill stores as well as the campus school store gie these students plenty to cheer about.

Marquette odonell2

Location: Carroll University, Waukesha, Wisconsin

Your first assignment always starts before classes meet. Whether you are a freshman or returning upperclassman (or woman) you face the same challenge—how to decorate your dorm room. It needs to serve as a bedroom, office, family room and mini kitchen all in a 12’ x 14’ 5” space! Divide that by a roommate with the same needs (whom you may or may not know) and the challenge magnifies.

This assignment requires you to create a refuge you are comfortable in, reflects your personality and allows you to sleep and study. The good news is you don’t have to break the bank on furnishing your room if you know how shop. Goodwill has bargains in every department. In a few hours of shopping time at several Goodwill stores, I found bedding, furniture and accessories to furnish three totally different dorm rooms.

Carroll University, the oldest college in Wisconsin, allowed us to “move” into a double room this month to demonstrate how easy it is to create a variety of looks. A+ to the staff and students who provided the space and helped us move our stuff in and out and loft the beds!

Mother Earth

Maggie is a Senior Art Therapy major. Although she has shared dorm space with two friends in the past, she’s getting a private bedroom this year. Each year she does something different. This season she is going for more earthy colors with shades of brown, green and orange.

I snatched up a brand new duvet cover and sham set in brown with blue, green and orange flowers. A duvet cover (a comforter without the batting) is a great idea. It allows you to change your bedding regularly. Once you invest in a comforter, you simply change the cover to suit your style. It’s also easier to launder. Since this one is reversible, she has two looks in one.

Most colleges allow you to loft your bed and most students do it to create more space. Since every dorm is different, be sure to measure the space under the bed before you purchase any furniture. Having a futon may sound like a great idea, but if it doesn’t fit, it’s a waste of money.

I found a great sling chair at Goodwill made from plastic tubing. Since the fabric was off-white I used a round table cloth to coordinate it with the bedding. Instant slip-cover without sewing! You have to be creative. I knew there wouldn’t be a need for a table cloth, but the colors were perfect. I could have made pillows out of it or draped it on the window. The rug, also brand new, anchors the space and keeps the tootsies warm in the morning.

Maggie likes lots of pillows and fun lighting to make her room cozy. Floor pillows and a square ottoman provide seating when friends hang out.

The fluorescent lighting in dorm rooms can be harsh and unflattering. Goodwill is a wonderful source for lamps and shades. This little white lamp provides task lighting and the string of mini lights with lantern shades creates mood lighting.

“Storage is always a big problem in dorm rooms. There just isn’t enough,” said Maggie. Using a variety of boxes and baskets to organize and store your personal items keeps the room neat and manageable. The “table” next to the chair is actually a wicker wine rack. It’s sturdy enough for the lamp and pictures and the compartments can hold towels, glasses or magazines.

The rooms at Carroll University do not have doors on the closets. Keeping a small closet neat and organized can be a challenge. I used curtain panel to hide what is inside.

This room layout places the desk at the end of the bed to keep your work area separate from the “living space”. The blue chair didn’t match, so a towel solved that problem. Being surrounded by things you love is important. You can find a huge variety of picture frames and accessories at Goodwill. Keep your mind open when you are shopping. The wicker picnic basket isn’t just for picnics—it can hold toiletries or office supplies.

Carroll earth

Venetian Nights

“My roommate is my best friend from high school and we are each doing our own color scheme,” said Rachel, a freshman majoring in Liberal Arts. “I like bright colors like pink, purple, orange and yellow.”

I found a wonderful comforter in deep royal colors such as fuchsia, purple and gold. Because it is reversible, it serves double duty. You can change your look to suit your whims (at no cost)! Add a few or lots of pillows and we have created a warm and cozy haven. I made the throw at the end of the bed from a length of fabric I found at Goodwill. I simply cut it to the size I needed and with right sides together, sewed all four sides, turned right side out, added batting and voila—a custom designed coverlet. Perfect for cold winter nights. Rachel said movie and band posters are economic ways to decorate the walls.

When turned to face the bed, the shelf becomes a headboard. The wood basket on top and small decorative wire baskets offer easy access to towels, make-up, name it. The petal plates add a splash of color and can serve up snacks. With limited space, the key is to be surrounded by things that have more than one purpose.

Since the whole point is to get an education, you can’t overlook the desk! The chair didn’t fit our color scheme so I simply draped it with coordinating fabric I found. We have a wicker theme going at this end of the room. The waste basket (a must) and cute basket on top hides pens and pencils. I love the tote bag. It’s a stylish alternative to a back pack. The bulletin board can hold pictures, notes and reminders.

Carroll venician

Home Away From Home

Not surprisingly, the women spent more time planning and shopping for their dorm rooms than the men. Blue and black were the predominant colors the guys chose. Bill likes movie posters and Matt, a skate boarder, will most likely decorate with old boards. Having additional seating and easy access to all their electronics are high priorities to both young men who are engineering students.

For the men, I found plenty of black and blue. A black sheet serves as the closet door and a striped duvet cover works for the bed. Every room needs a punch of color so lime green accessories helps brighten up the small space.

A black faux leather chair is great for relaxing or watching TV. When friends drop in for game time, the bean bag chair, fuzzy rug and pillows provide ample comfort for lounging.

Guys need storage as much as the girls do. Plastic drawers can hold anything. I never have trouble finding a variety of accessories to hold CD’s and DVD’s at Goodwill. The black lamp and clock are in step with the masculine color scheme. A rolling stand has many uses. It holds towels and toiletries here, but could work for movies or school supplies as well.

The blue desk chair works with our color scheme. A few masculine accessories for storage, a dart board for down time and a clip on lamp (that can go where ever more lighting is needed) and we have a clean work environment.

Carroll home 


Dorm room style and décor is as varied as the student who lives there. The dorm room presents more challenges than decorating a bedroom at home because of the space limitations and roommate. It needn’t be expensive, but it should be fun. At the prices you find at Goodwill, you can redecorate every year!

Before you make purchases, be sure to check with your housing advisor on the following items:

  • Measure space under loft. Make sure any seating you buy will fit your space.
  • Find out what kind of tape can you use to hang posters or pictures on the wall. Be sure to use only allowable tape.
  • Ask what kind of lighting or light bulbs are acceptable.
  • Find out if you are allowed to hang draperies or curtains. Since dorms do not allow you to drill holes, tension rods are easy to install and removable, but check first.
  • Don’t bring any appliances without approval.

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