Home Away from Home


By Julia Trupp

New faces, new classes and new places – these are all facets of the college experience. Going off to college is nerve-racking, exciting and bittersweet all wrapped up into one, and a dorm room for an incoming freshman becomes his or her encompassing safe haven. But instead of hanging up a bunch of posters on the old cinderblock walls and calling it a day, some students down South are designing Instagram-worthy custom dorm rooms fit for royalty.

Lisa Stagg has a close relationship with her daughter Savannah Stagg, a member of the University of Arkansas dance team, and they knew they would enjoy the process of designing Savannah’s freshman dorm room in Reid Hall together, she says. They chose colors, fabrics and several pieces of decor from local stores like HomeGoods, Pottery Barn and Hobby Lobby, and seeing it all come together as a warm home-away-from-home for her daughter was a fun experience.

dark dorm room with window

Before. Photo courtesy of Becky Norris.

bright and cheerful dorm room with bed and windows


“We are DIY’ers, so we actually made most of the decor ourselves,” Lisa says. “My mom is an excellent seamstress, so she helped us make the window treatments, bed skirt and closet draperies. We also made the upholstered headboards.” The bed skirt and window treatments ended up being Lisa’s favorite part of the room.

And it wasn’t her first rodeo. Along with Savannah’s dorm room last year, Lisa designed her other daughter’s room years ago, and for the past 15 years has owned her own design business, the Central Arkansas-based LJ Interiors.

“I love helping others create spaces that they love,” Lisa says. “I have gotten many questions about how we did things in Savannah’s room and I’m always happy to help however I can.”

Frances Lacefield of Room422 started her freshman year in 2010 and her own business not long afterwards with the help of her mother, who happens to be a textile designer. Frances wasn’t having any luck finding bedding and decor that matched her style when she was getting ready to go to college, so she created her own bedding using her mom’s fabrics at home. The next year, Frances designed her own fabric. Today, she has her own line and her company, Room422.

dark dorm room with bunk bed and window


dorm room with two beds and ottoman


Through the customization of Room422 products, Frances says she wants “to contribute to why these women have the confidence to achieve anything they set their minds to, because it was only seven years ago I was in their shoes.”

On Frances’ list of must-haves for a college dorm room:

1. Bed-skirts for lofted beds to create roomier feels and also hide unsightly storage

2. Headboards for older beds (and Room422’s are Velcro for worry- and damage-free removal)

3. Storage cubes for versatility (“There’s just so many uses to maximize your space for storage. Spice it up!” Lacefield says.)

4. Adding favorite colors, accents and patterns (for personality, of course)

“People like to feel comfortable,” Lacefield says. “It’s important to find items to decorate the space and make it homier since the dorm room is a new home all around.”

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