Dorm Style Evolution: How My Dorm Room has Changed in 4 Years

Hey guys! I recently posted about my dorm style, and taking the photos for that post caused me to think about how my dorm room has evolved over the years. In light of the new semester starting up again, I thought it would be fun to walk you through four years of my dorm rooms, showing you what’s changed and stayed the same. These photos were taken at Wellesley College and Oxford University, where I go to college and studied abroad, respectively.’

A little note before we get started: these are all iPhone pictures I took for my family, rather than the DSLR photos I normally take for my blog. While they’re certainly not glossy or professional (and I have to admit, it’s a little hard for me to post them at all!), they still showcase my dorm style and how it’s evolved over the years. I hope you can appreciate them for that!

First Year: Ground Floor Triple

Sara Laughed's first-year dorm room!

In my first year, I lived in a triple (a room with three people, rather than the traditional two-roommate situation) on the ground floor of a large dorm near the lake. The ground floor was actually partially underground, so we didn’t get much sunlight in our room, which I didn’t love. However, we had a reasonably-sized space, with a sleeping area and a living area.

Sara Laughed's first-year dorm room!Because we were living in a triple, our room had fewer of my own decorations. Luckily, the roommate I was sharing a bunkbed with had a similarly-colored set of sheets to mine, so the bedding added some color to the space. We picked up a few coordinating pillows and a rug to create a casual sitting area in the other part of our room!

Sophomore Year: Top-Floor Single RA Room

Sara Laughed's sophomore dorm room!

In my second year of college, I was an RA in a lovely little building near the woods. I was on the top floor of the dorm that year, so I had a nice view of the trees. My room wasn’t huge, but it had a really nice closet and dresser set, and because I didn’t bring any extra furniture, it felt spacious!

You can see that I used the same sheets and quilt from my first year. The wall decorations are just old photos that I printed in the college library and taped up; the butterfly twinkle lights were new that year!

Sara Laughed's sophomore dorm room!

One thing I loved about my dorm room in my sophomore year was how much color (and, let’s face it, clutter) it had. My total dorm costs that year were around $25 because I reused everything from my first room and only bought a handful of new decorations. Those handmade decorations ended up bringing a ton of fun and personality to the space.

Junior Year: Single Room Abroad

Sara Laughed's junior dorm room!

I spent my junior year of college studying abroad, so all my decorations and supplies were new that year (I donated them to Oxfam before I left, so unfortunately, these adorable sheets are no longer in my possession). It’s only now that I notice that my bedding here is actually a little similar to my bedding back at my other college! I guess I have a thing for maroon!

Sara Laughed's junior dorm room!

Again, a lot of the decorations in my room were homemade that year; things like magazine cut-outs, paper flags, and other similar items. I did buy two map posters and some rolls of wrapping paper to decorate the walls and cork board.

I really loved this room, in part because it was part of a really magical year of my life. The built-in private sink wasn’t bad either!

Senior Year (Part 1): Second-Floor Single

Sara Laughed's senior dorm room!

In my senior year, I lived in the same building from two years before. While I took a semester off in the first semester for health reasons, I was able to move into the same room when I came back. The first time around, I bought new blue sheets and some fun gold decals for the wall.

Sara Laughed's senior dorm room!

In the second semester, I also added a little pillow and rug area for the floor where my friends could sit when they came over.

Bonus: My Room at Home

In light of the new semester starting up again, I thought it would be fun to walk you through four years of my dorm rooms, showing you what's changed and stayed the same.

Since I just added a few new elements to my room at home, I thought I’d share a few photos of that as well! At home, my bed at home is a queen, not a twin, and the room is a bit bigger than my usual dorm space.

My college room! By Sara Laughed
Because I took a semester off last fall, I still have one semester left this year before graduating. That means I get one more shot at dorm life before entering “the real word.” I’m excited live in a dorm with my friends one last time, but I’m also ready for life after college in my first apartment!

Will you be living in the dorms this year? How do you plan to decorate your space?

Sara Laughed

I'm Sara, a writer, programmer, and American in the Netherlands. This blog is about my life, discoveries, and mistakes. Follow along, and thank you for stopping by!

  1. This is such a cute idea for a post! I love all of your rooms but your home room is definitely the cutest in my opinion, I love the amount of light you have there! 😀
    I’ve just finished my 3rd year at University – and because I’m in the UK, that means I’ve graduated! I’ll be going back in September for a masters though so hopefully I can do a similar thing with all of my rooms! 😉 I’ve always taken the sinks in rooms for granted, they’re pretty standard here, so it’s interesting to hear that you loved it!
    This year I was in a shared house in a tiny single room, and I really missed all of the extra things (like the sink!) which made it slightly more difficult to manage!
    Maybe I’ll do a similar post of my last three years! 😛 I know my rooms changed a lot!! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Sara says:

      Congratulations on graduating! What was your degree in? Yeah, having a sink in the room was a nice little luxury that you don’t realize is great until it’s gone. I’d love to see how your room’s changed over the years!

  2. This is such a great post Sara! I love all of these, you have great decorating taste! (But my favorite color is yellow so I’m partial to your room at home.) I’m a rising junior and I’m going to be an RA in a freshman dorm in the fall! I’m super excited about it and having a single is going to be SO nice.

    1. Sara says:

      Exciting! I looooved having a single – I struggled to live with roommates and I’m sure that didn’t make me great to live with either! I love my room at home too (: Bright and airy!

  3. I lived in a single dorm in a suite style area; multiple bedrooms shared a bathroom. I loved it, it was a pretty good size, and I didn’t have to worry about having roommate problems like most of my friends did. Unfortunately, I wasn’t very organized so my room was messy a lot. For my second year I moved into off campus during the summer where I’ve lived ever since. I have an efficiency apartment where everything is in one room, there’s only one sink for the kitchen and bathroom, and no oven. For the next Yea I’ll be moving into a two bedroom apartment with a close friend in the same complex. I’m ready to have an actual bedroom again, and a real oven instead of a toaster oven haha. Plus all the decorations haha.

  4. Sam says:

    My favourite is definitely your room from your 2nd year (as an RA). I’m an RA right now and I totally identify with the cozy and cluttered thing hahah. The lighting in dorm rooms is what I find makes the biggest impact on how homey it feels to me

  5. Amanda Clarke says:

    Very nice rooms! You know how to create coziness where you live!
    In September I will move to a new dorm building and I don’t know yet whether I will live alone or with my neighbors but I hope for a beautiful view from the window!

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