Mom designs daughter's dorm room; Internet falls in love

Interior designer Ashley Grant used neutral colors and texture to turn her daughter Julia’s dorm room at Ole Miss into a cozy retreat.
Interior designer Ashley Grant used neutral colors and texture to turn her daughter Julia’s dorm room at Ole Miss into a cozy retreat. Ashley Grant

When Ashley Grant finished helping her daughter, Julia, move into her dorm room at Ole Miss on Aug. 13, she turned around for a final glimpse and snapped a few shots.

After all, Grant, of Gulfport, Miss., is an interior designer and owner of White Bungalow in Ocean Springs, Miss. Why not let clients and friends see her work on her own daughter’s room? So she posted a few on Facebook. She wasn’t alone; lots of moms were moving students into their dorm rooms and posting photos that weekend.

And lately, it’s not unusual to see fancy dorm room photos. In fact, some designers even specialize in the trend.

The room reflects Grant’s style of using neutral colors, adding interest with texture and a bit of gray. A fluffy faux fur rug covers tan linoleum tiles, and a bamboo shade and attractive curtains cover the utilitarian window.

Something about Grant’s work, though, captured the attention of bloggers and websites and Instagram accounts all over the country.

“When my husband and I were coming home from Oxford Monday, I had no idea what was going on. My phone kept pinging. I said, ‘My phone is blowing up!’” she said.

A blog called Curtsy posted “Ritz Carlton or College Dorm Room? You Tell Us” on Aug. 16, showcasing photos of several pumped-up dorm rooms, including Grant’s, and Inspire Me Home Decor posted Grant’s photos on Instagram.


When a dorm room gets a transformation #dormliving by @white_bungalow

A photo posted by Interior Design & Home Decor (@inspire_me_home_decor) on

“Our dorm room got posted on an Instagram account that has 3.4 million followers yesterday! Within the span of about 30 hours we got over 28,000 likes!” Grant posted Aug. 16 on White Bungalow’s Facebook page.

As of Friday morning, Curtsy’s blog had 2,359 shares, and Grant’s original Facebook post had 1,243 shares and more than 2,100 likes. That’s not all.

Domino magazine found inspiration in the sophisticated room.

“These beds are just begging us to curl up and take a snooze,” the magazine’s website said of the room that was included with 19 other dorm room designs. The magazine offered hacks to replicate the look, but Grant had a secret. Much of the room’s decor was found at deep discount online and at discount retailers, paying much less than the listed price for the suggested hacks.

“I wanted to do something that’s warm and cozy,” Grant said. But there were challenges.

“You can’t paint the walls. They’re that yellow, and everybody gets frustrated with them. That’s another good reason to use neutrals; you can make them work with any color,” she said.

Heavy duty fabric fastener, such as Velcro, can be used to hang artwork, or hangers such as those in the Command line from 3M, she said.

As for Julia and her roommate, they are quite happy with their room, Grant said.

But there’s one more thing to add.

“I didn’t have the futon, and we’re going up to Oxford to take that to them,” Grant said.