A dorm room with bookshelf and a bed with pillows, backrest pillow and lap desk with laptop on it

Goingback to school in 2022 feels more hopeful than it did this time last year—why not reflect that optimism in your study space? The best student workspaces inspire creativity, enhance concentration and encourage productivity.

To help you strike that balance, here are our favourite modern dorm room ideas, organization hacks and décor tips so you can furnish a student space that’s guaranteed to make the grade.

A brown L-shaped desk with drawers and shelves, and a white chair with chrome legs

1. Invest in a desk with shelves or drawers to maximize space.

Desks with storage are a must in small workspaces, otherwise things get messy,” says Toronto interior designer Brenda Danso, who uses her background in mental health to create functional, happy spaces. “Look for one that has a drawer or two to hide away supplies or one with open shelves for stacking books and providing a perch for decorative items.” We love the many stylish options for small offices now available and how they’re no longer limited to utilitarian design. For a modern take, look for student desks with pops of pattern, muted colours and natural finishes.

Get the look:

A pink mesh wire desktop organizer with notebooks and pencils in it

2. Use trays, small bins and desktop organizers to reduce clutter.

An overloaded desk or bookshelf is more than just an eyesore. Scientists at the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute actually found that clutter drains our brains, making it harder to process information.[1] Having trays, wire bins and desktop organizers with designated spots for penspapers, a cell phone and accessories is one of those dorm room ideas that helps to make productivity—not piles of stuff—the focus.

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A white office chair with chrome base and castor wheels

3. Pick a chair with castors to easily access school supplies.

Office chairs with castors are great, even in a small office, because they make it easy to swivel and reach things—such as a printer or cabinet—without having to get up,” says Danso. “They keep you close to your desk and in work mode.” Plus, castors can operate on both carpet and hardwood floors for added ease.

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A wooden desk with a gold desk lamp, a pencil holder and a black office chair

4. Choose workspace-specific lighting to avoid eye strain.

“Students often settle for overhead lighting in their dorm room or bedroom at home, but it’s not intense enough,” says Danso. “Task lighting—such as a designated desk lamp—is a must.” She prefers lamps that bend easily so they can be adjusted to the task at hand and advises choosing a bulb that emits cool light. “Warm lighting is very soft and ambient and encourages relaxation,” she says. “To stay alert and productive, go for a higher-wattage, cool bulb that gives off a crisp, bright light.”

Get the look:

A white storage cart or crafting station with three drawers on top and two shelves below

5. Streamline your room with large storage containers to hide mess.

“Out of sight, out of mind!” Roll out the organized approach of your desktop and shelves to the rest of your dorm room décor. Craft storage carts, large woven baskets and chic laundry hampers are storage solutions that feel fresh and stylish. Plus, more organization means less time searching for items and more time hitting the books!

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A student's desk with a plant, notebooks and framed art on the wall above

6. Add personal elements like plants, artwork and shelving to inspire creativity.

While functionality is key, let’s face it: young adults want a study space that feels welcoming. “Plants are one of my favourite ways to add flair to a student’s dorm room or small office space,” says Danso. “They impart colour and life.” She also likes to layer in inexpensive framed artwork—from inspirational quotes that inspire success to bright, colourful pieces that energize. Consider adding floating shelves to elevate the space, using them to display family photos, scholastic awards and mementos while further reducing desktop clutter.

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A sliver and black hot water dispenser with a cup and saucer beside it

7. Promote productive breaks with a selection of small appliances.

Nipping out for snacks and drinks is not only costly; it’s time-consuming and can lead to deadline-busting distractions. A hot-water dispenser or electric kettle is a smart way to quickly and safely boil water for everything from hot drinks to instant noodles, soups and more. “It’s important for students to take a break,” says Danso. “Making their own drinks and snacks lets them pause, while the accessibility means they’ll waste less time travelling and spend more time being focused at their desk.” Take it to the next level by adding a mini fridge, a microwave and an air fryer so you can easily heat up leftovers, prepare a frozen entrée, or whip up a healthy meal in minutes.

Get the look:

A bed with a white wooden headboard, colourful comforter, white pillows and blue and pink flower-shaped throw pillows

8. Transform your bed into a cozy oasis.

A good night’s sleep is as important as being productive during the day, so don’t cut corners when it comes to bedding. Start with a protective mattress cover and a plush mattress topper to make your dorm room bed more comfortable. Opt for velvety-soft, wrinkle resistant microfibre sheets along with a comforter or duvet that is cozy and easy to care for. After a day of lectures, libraries and sitting hunched over your desk, supportive pillows are a must. Throw blankets not only add a fun decorative touch, but they can also be used for an extra layer on your bed in the chillier months. Also, look at adding a bedrest pillow that allows you to sit upright in bed, perfect for when you want to move away from your desk while studying or watch a movie when you have a break.

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Article Sources

  1. Harvard Business Review. The Case for Finally Cleaning Your Desk.

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