When my older sister moved off campus (goodbye, dorm life) to rent a bedroom in a house with her friends, she called on me to bring some affordable style to her new room. With the help of west elm’s and some simple tricks for upgrading the room, I designed a new layout for the room with pieces that my sister will use for years to come. From a comfortable bed to adding a little color and pattern to the room, the small-space felt much more livable when we were done decorating.


west elm - A College Bedroom Gets A Makeover

west elm - A College Bedroom Gets A Makeover

The previous tenant in the room left a twin-size bed and a faux Oriental rug. There wasn’t any other furniture or décor in the room, besides plain window shades and a set of short black curtains on one window. It was an odd room, to say the least. My sister helped jumpstart the project with a fresh coat of white paint on the walls, creating clean slate for the new design. Although the room was small, we replaced the twin bed with a queen bedframe and added a dresser and armchair to the room. Instead of feeling smaller, the room just became more comfortable and inviting with the new additions. The décor stayed pretty neutral, but I brought a pop of color and pattern by applying wallpaper to hollow-core doors behind the bed – a super easy DIY that created a great focal point to the room (and it’s super rental-friendly)!


west elm - A College Bedroom Gets A Makeover

The Window headboard also brought some texture to the room, which looked great with the subtle lines on the Diamond stripe bedding and the super fuzzy Mongolian lamb lumbar pillow. Above the dresser, white and gold Abacus lamps flanked the mirror-framed mirror, which reflected light around the room (aside from providing a last-chance look in the mirror before heading out the door). The windows were instantly upgraded with the addition of white curtains, which softened that whole side of the room with the folds of fabric. The armchair and side table offered a place to work or read, with the mid-century lines of the Benson table pairing with the wide, angled chair legs perfectly. To finish it all off, I used a large print my sister made above the chair, and a set of prints from Minted by the dresser. They added a bit of personalization that helped the whole room come together!

west elm - A College Bedroom Gets A Makeover

The wooden headboard and side table provided a solid foundation for the room, while the upholstered armchair and layered bedding brought comfortable textiles for an inviting look. For a small room like this one, placing the bed beside the doorway prevents it from blocking the path into the room, and using mirrors and accent lighting help define create a light and layered space. Hanging framed artwork also adds another layer of detail, and reinforces the room’s color palette. Lastly, when using a big splash of color or pattern in a small space, create one focal point rather than smaller points of interest across the room, to help define the space without overwhelming it. It was so much fun transforming this bedroom for my sister. What’s your favorite vignette in the room?

west elm - A College Bedroom Gets A Makeover


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