Style & Shopping

How I Turned My Boring Dorm Desk into a Glam Station for $200

published Sep 25, 2023
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
bubble light small mirror on dorm desk with upper shelf built in
Credit: Maryann Richardson

When I was growing up, I had a beautiful vanity with a big mirror and bright light bulbs. I cherished the time I spent at my own little glam station over the years, up through my high school graduation. So when I was preparing to move away to college, I didn’t know much about what my future would hold, but I did know one thing: I wanted to recapture the magic of my beloved vanity in my new home away from home. 

Once I moved into my dorm room, I found the perfect opportunity to DIY my dream vanity in the form of my standard-grade dorm room desk. All it took was sourcing a handful of cute, space-saving products to make me feel like I was back at home, in my bedroom, doing my makeup and skincare routines. Just like my old one, this new glam station was there for me through all the biggest milestones of my freshman year: my first day of classes, my first college party, sorority recruitment, and, finally, moving out. It was my comfort space during a year of big changes, and I am so excited I get to recreate it again in my sophomore year dorm room.

If you’re someone who values your getting-ready routine like I do, these products below can help you turn your boring dorm desk into a glam station just like mine — all without spending more than $200 total.

1 / 7
was $59.99

First and foremost, any good glam station needs a mirror with built-in lighting. This one has a ton of features, including different tones of light, adjustable brightness (which is helpful in case you have an 8 a.m. class and your roommate sleeps until noon), and an additional mini magnifying mirror to ensure every single brow hair is perfectly in place.

2 / 7

You may be familiar with the concept of temporary wallpaper, but let me introduce you to its lesser-known cousin: peel-and-stick contact paper, which you can use to personalize your desk based on your room’s aesthetic. Using contact paper will help keep the desk’s surface clean, which is especially beneficial if you, too, are notorious for dropping your eyeshadow palette all the time. Just peel off the paper before you move out and voila! A pristine desk. The next resident will thank you.

3 / 7

When you’re studying for finals and not getting much sleep, consider your skincare mini fridge your BFF! You’ll be able to store your skincare products inside to keep them chilled, and the coldness will help you feel more alert and can help decrease any puffiness you may feel. Plus, if you have room, you can store a mini energy drink in there for those extra-early mornings.

4 / 7
Southern Sorelle

When it comes to holding your makeup, there are two types of people: the ones who keep all their makeup in a makeup bag, and the ones who display everything in a makeup organizer. For those in the former camp, this makeup bag comes in a variety of different fun and funky patterns, any of which is sure to brighten up your space. It’s big enough to hold all of the makeup I need for my daily routine, and it also has two inside pockets where I keep all my mini products so they don’t get lost.

5 / 7

For organizer fans, this one from Amazon allows you to store a ton of different products and makes them easy to find — because it spins, you can access every brush, tube, and palette in your collection with ease. It comes in six different colors as well, so you can match it to whatever theme you choose for your glam station.

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At Home

A pop of greenery is a luxe accessory to an otherwise function-oriented space. But college can get busy, so you might not have time to take care of all the plant babies you’d like to adopt. That’s why these faux succulents are the perfect starter plant to adorn your glam station — there’s no upkeep, and they won’t die and require you to spend money on replacing them.

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Last but not least is a unique painting to hang above your glam station. There are so many sellers on Etsy who create handmade artwork, so you’re bound to find something special to fit your vibe. Having a colorful art print not only helped me decorate my bare dorm walls, but it also reminded me of the decor in my old bedroom back home, which made me love my dorm desk glam station even more.

Maryann Reese

Musical Theater

Maryann Reese is a sophomore at Christopher Newport University, studying musical theater as well as minoring in leadership studies and dance. Maryann has been a professional content creator for three years and she is thrilled to be a part of Dorm Therapy!

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SchoolChristopher Newport University '26
MajorMusical Theater
FavesCats, musicals, coffee, time with family
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