Why Parents Are Spending $10K On Their Kids’ Dorm Room Redesigns

Dorm life at UConn in the ChitChat lounge

Dorm rooms today aren’t just typical 12-by-19 feet spaces—they’re fully-designed living quarters. And some parents are paying as much as $10,000 to give their kids magazine-worthy rooms.

Rachel Wolfe, of The Wall Street Journal, recently looked at how Gen-Z students are pouring extra creativity into decorating their dorm rooms and hitting millions of views on TikTok for their dorm transformation videos.

“The over-the-top rooms are often a collaboration between kids and their parents and stand as a contrast to last year, when many students weren’t allowed to have anyone help them move in at all due to Covid-19 concerns,” Wolfe says.


At the University of Mississippi, freshmen Ansley Spinks and Taylor Robinson went viral on TikTok for their ‘before’ and ‘after’ dorm transformation video—which racked up 3.8 million views.

While the two didn’t meet until move-in day, they started planning the design of their dorm room in late May, ordering light-up signs of their names off Etsy and even building a virtual 3-D model of the room for workshop layouts. The assembly of the room took eight hours and costed roughly $2,000.

COSTS OF UP TO $10,000

While the University of Mississippi students’ room might seem over-the-top, some other families are churning out even more money for dorm room transformations.

Dawn Thomas of After Five Designs, who’s been decorating dorms at schools like University of Alabama, Ole Miss and UCLA for 19 years, says dozens of families pay her as much as $10,000 to give their kids magazine-worthy rooms.

“Some days I go, ‘Do people do all this for a picture? Are they doing it for Instagram?’” says Thomas.

Some comments on TikTok have criticized students for investing so much time and money in a space where they’ll only spend a year in. But students say redesigning a dorm room is worth it.

“With all the things going on in the world, there’s so much uncertainty, and New York is a tumultuous place to live, so coming back to this dorm is a form of therapy,” Sydney Hargrove, an 18-year-old sophomore at New York City’s Hunter College, says.

Sources: The Wall Street Journal, TikTok (@ansleyspinks)

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