Emily Henderson in a styled dorm room setting

Emily Henderson’s Top 10 Picks for Making a Dorm Room Feel Like Home Away From Home

Making a room feel cozy and comforting can be easy — toss in a few throw pillows, add a lamp for softer lighting, maybe some decorative curtains, and voila! But making a dorm room feel like a home away from home? That’s another story. Turning a small space filled with sparse wood furniture and fluorescent overhead lighting into a student’s oasis isn’t easy. But Target’s never one to turn down a challenge. And for this one, we called in an expert…

“There’s no reason that dorm rooms can’t be both clean and functional while on-trend and reflective of your personality,” says Target Home Style Expert Emily Henderson. “I believe a home — or a room — should reflect the person that inhabits it, and it’s no different for college students. To me, that means finding multifunctional items that look great while fulfilling at least one or two purposes.”

While Emily’s decorating prowess is obvious, she also has a knack for infusing spaces with fun design touches. “In my first college apartment, I had hanging vintage bright red velvet pendants — it was VERY dramatic,” Emily revealed. So we asked the style maven to decorate her very own dorm room using her favorite back-to-college products from Target and share her top tips for making a room feel comforting and cozy. The result? Well, we think you’re going to like it.

A stylized desk and chair surrounded by decor

Photo Display: “Nothing makes a dorm room feel more like home than a photo display! The Room Essentials Round Wall Hanging isn’t just for decoration — you can also hang photos of family and friends from the inside wires. Complete the look by adding floating shelves, a mirror and message board to create a cute wall collage.”

Lamps: “One essential that helps to brighten up any dorm room is a lamp that you can use for studying or extra lighting. Try the Threshold LED Dylan Two-Head Lamp for a functional piece, or the Threshold Ceramic Table Lamp in Aqua for a stylish addition to your room.”

Desk décor: “I love funky décor pieces that show off your personality, like this Room Essentials LED Neon Light. You can also incorporate some greenery to liven up your room with the Room Essentials Faux Cacti Succulent. The best part for busy college students? It doesn’t need to be watered!”

A plush cream rug and pouf and other decor are shown in a dorm room setting

Seating: “Extra seating can be in high demand when friends come over to hang out. With the Room Essentials Fur Poufs and Xhilaration Embroidered Floor Pillows, this seating will add a stylish-yet-functional touch to any dorm room.”

Room Décor: “Try dressing up those cinderblock walls with tapestries, such as the Xhilaration Medallion Tapestry or the Room Essentials Cactus Tapestry. They’re large enough to cover a lot of ugly cinderblock, plus they’re easier to hang on walls than framed art.”

A mirrored shelf with makeup and jewlery

Mirror: “One of the oldest small-living-space tricks in the book is to use mirrors to make a room seem bigger. Even more than creating the illusion of extra space, mirrors also reflect light to make a room brighter. Try the Room Essentials Floor Mirror with the ladder or the Threshold Wall Mirror with the shelf, which has an extra landing spot for small everyday items like keys.”

Storage: “Storage pieces that look great while keeping your things organized are a must-have for any college student. The Room Essentials Three Tier Cart is perfect for dorm room living — it rolls easily and can be tucked away in a corner when you’re not using it.”

A bed made with a light pink textured comforter

Comforter: “When you’re living in a small space (and oftentimes sharing said space with someone else), you have limited opportunities to show off your personal style. I love the idea of picking out a comforter with a bold pattern like the Xhilaration Blue Floral Painterly Comforter, or the Room Essentials Geo Lines Comforter if bold patterns aren’t for you — it’s neutral but the texture keeps it interesting.”

Sheets: “For dorm room living, I love multifunctional pieces that look great and save space, like the Room Essentials Pocket Sheets. They have a side pocket for built-in phone storage if you don’t have space for a nightstand.”

Decorative Pillows: “It’s no secret that I love decorative pillows, and I think that they — along with throws — are an important part of making a dorm room feel like home. I love patterned lumbar pillows to give your bed extra personality, such as the Xhilaration Mint & Coral Embroidered Chevron Oblong Pillow or the Xhilaration Gray Studded Metallic Throw Pillow.”

Shop back-to-college décor in Target stores and online at Target.com!

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