Bobby Berk’s Tips on Personalizing Your Dorm Space

Lauren Reho
5 min readFeb 6, 2021

Decorating your dorm room is number one on your list of priorities at the beginning of a new college semester. You organize everything in a way to match that very special picture you found on Pinterest, but you feel like your space still doesn’t showcase the true you. No need to worry. Bobby Berk, the Queer Eye home designer we all know and love, can cure this case of design fatigue! In every episode, Bobby has proved his ability to massively transform lackluster spaces into beautiful homes with a style that is still able to reflect the person living there. Did I mention he renovates the entire house in just one week? Bobby could come decorate my space any time he wants, and I wouldn’t mind. After binging too many episodes of Queer Eye to count, here are 10 tips we can all take away from Bobby Berk on making our spaces ours.

Work with what you have

Don’t try to mess with your starting canvas. If you are stuck with a cramped dorm room, use the cramped dorm room in a way to add to the aesthetic. Every room has its own character and appeal that makes it unique and easy to personalize. Your room is your blank canvas and the very beginning of a new project, so use it to your advantage!

Everything has its own spot

Storage. One of the biggest takeaways from Bobby is the incorporation of storage. Every item you own (whether it be clothing, toiletries or sentimental items) should have its own spot and should stay there. To avoid losing anything, choose a specific location for each item when organizing your space so everything will be easier to find. Bobby loves furniture that doubles as a storage unit, so use it where you can!

“Everything should have a job. Nothing should get to sit there for free if it’s not doing something for you,” Bobby said.

Of course, if there are items you know you won’t use or aren’t functionable anymore, get rid of them because they just take up space that could be used for something else.

Show your favorite things off

Your room is where you’ll be spending a lot of time, so be sure to incorporate items all around you that make you happy. Even if these items aren’t the most Pinterest-worthy or if they don’t quite match the theme of your room, they still deserve a place up front if they hold meaning in your life. Life is all about surrounding yourself with things that spark joy, so Bobby says to display the “things you truly love and make you happy when you see them.”

Keep it neutral

Neutrals are key when it comes to small spaces. They give the room dimension when paired with different textures and patterns. Minimalistic colors keep the room cozy but not too cluttered as bold pops of color sometimes do. Plus, there are so many different neutral color combinations and patterns you can use to personalize your space.

Large mirrors create space

Large mirrors create the illusion that your space is bigger than it actually is. (They also make your mirror pics next level fierce #NLF) If you find yourself dreading just how small your room is and you’re not sure how to open it up, a large mirror will do the trick. Whether it’s dramatically hanging over your bed or leaning up against your desk, a mirror can add depth to your room and make it feel a little bit bigger. Mirrors are also super easy to personalize. You can hang Christmas lights around the frame or stick on polaroid shots of your favorite peeps and you.

Hang things up high

Shelves, picture frames, curtain rods — everything. You may feel like the right idea is to hang everything at eye level so you can enjoy the décor for yourself, but it will end up “making your room feel shrimpy,” Bobby says. Instead, hang it all high to elongate your space and give room for other items in the future.

If adding furniture, do so with caution

Chunky sofas, although they seem comfortable, make a room feel so much more cramped. Try opting for something simpler, like an accent chair to give the room some spice. However, make sure it doesn’t take up too much room in order to avoid overcrowding. You may want to step back and examine the bigger picture if you really need an extra seat for guests. The decision is obviously yours, but try to think like Bobby and look for something simple that can double as storage.

Removable wallpaper

Sadly, we cannot showcase our artistic painting skills on our dorm walls, but we can use removable wallpaper to spice up the place (while still following the rules of dorm life, of course). Wallpaper can add so much life to a space and can give it an edgy vibe that you can’t find anywhere else. You can find so many different prints and styles to match whatever your personality may be.

Lightbulbs are key

Bobby explains that shopping for lightbulbs is not as simple as it seems. The lighting of a room is so important when it comes to achieving the desired look. You don’t want to add in fluorescent lights to a room at the last minute because you didn’t know any better. Do your research on watts and styles before putting any old lightbulb in your lamps. As Bobby describes, “color temperature is everything,” and warm colors can capture the mood of a room at night. He goes on to say, “Lighting is a good way to change the look of a place without spending much.”

Simple touches can make your dorm feel homier

Homesickness is real. When designing your space, add some small details that remind you of home to make your space complete. Whether that be your favorite nightstand necessities, a picture of your family or your puppy to greet you every time you walk in the room (kidding, but I wish), your space will feel so much cozier. When you add simple touches like these, your new place will begin to feel like a home away from home in no time.

Never experience an uninspired room again. Dorm design isn’t the easiest thing to do, but Bobby Berk makes it so much easier to personalize our spaces and show who we really are through our room design. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to go buy some storage bins and reorganize my life.