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How we do dorm life: The Athlete

Moving away from home and finally getting your own space is, in a word, thrilling. That is, until you finally see your new room. At first sight it’s uninspiring at best. So we tasked our interior designer, Emma Parkinson, with creating two dorm rooms, each with a personality all its own. A perfectly customized space to sleep, study and socialize. (Psst. If this one isn’t quite your style, we’ve got another great dorm room over here.)

A shot of an entire dorm room from the entrance.
A shot of an entire dorm room from the entrance.

Meet Emma

Attended: University of the Arts London, Wimbledon College of Arts

Degree: Fine Art, Print and Digital Media, BA

“I spent my college days living in a super tiny apartment in Islington, North London together with my boyfriend (now husband). Once upon a time it used to be a café, complete with a shop window and everything. It was definitely charming, but smooshed between a pair of old Victorian buildings and only 7 feet wide! We had next to no storage space, and the kitchen and bathroom were in the basement. Needless to say, we spent a lot of time running up and down the narrow staircases.”

Your mom is right: getting your 8 hours in is super important. But let’s be honest, college is about so much more than being well-rested for class. “When I went away to school, socialising and making new friends became such a huge part of my life,” says Emma. “I really wanted to make sure that this room could be a great hangout spot, despite its small size.” Use an extra mattress as a backrest. If friends come to stay the weekend, just lay it on the floor to create a second bed.

“You’re going to need all the extra storage space you can get. So I chose to use desk organizers as a nightstand. They can hold a ton of stuff and keep things tidy.”

“Think beyond the (tiny) closet and go for an additional clothes rack and a few matching boxes for shoes. And the volleyball net? Perfect to use as a room divider, but also to clip your hats onto,” says Emma.

Even if your space is small, you should always make space for the things your passionate about. It’s what makes your dorm room feel like a home.

Emma, interior designer

“When I was in school, I learned really quickly that the key to living comfortably was using those hidden, wasted spaces. For example, a couple underbed storage boxes on wheels are a perfect place to stash shoes.”

When it’s time to buckle down and get to work, you’re going to need a space that’s super organized and spacious enough to spread out. That means lots of shelves, trays for paper, and a DIY peg board for desk accessories. Emma even used a metal trellis to post notes, artwork and photos. Paired with the volleyball net on the other side of the desk, you create a nice screened-off area to help keep you focused.

“Despite the fact that this is a work area, I still wanted it to feel inviting and cool. The LIXHULT cabinets have that sporty feel to them, and the bright colours and scattered placement on the wall bring a lot of personality,” Emma explains. “I’m also totally into adding some pieces you can create on your own, like the pegboard. It’s really simple to make, saves a ton of desk space, and shows off your handy skills!”

“There are so many fun sides to dorm living! The communal shower just isn’t one of them. When I was in school, I found that being prepared for all the back-and-forths to the bathroom in the basement would help ease the annoyance.” Use a cart to create a station by the door with all of your stuff at the ready. Hang a mesh bag with the essentials (think towel, toothbrush, toothpaste), and use the other side to hang your laundry bag and damp towels.

We love to see our customers get creative with our products. Go for it! But please note that altering or modifying IKEA products so they can no longer be re-sold or used for their original purpose, means the IKEA commercial warranties and your right to return the products will be lost.

Made by

Interior designer: Emma Parkinson
Copywriter: Vanessa Algotsson
Photographer: Martin Cederblad