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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Decorating the Dorm Room - A Few Hints

If you've read some of my other College Week posts, you know I was in college in the Stone Age.  While some things have changed, most dorm rooms have not.  For each person in the room, there is a bed, desk, chair and usually a wardrobe or closet.  My freshman year, I lived in a triple - yes, that is 3 women in a room.  No, the room wasn't much bigger.  Decorating a dorm room can be daunting, but there are two basic rules to remember:

1.  A dorm room is SMALL so don't cram too much into it.
2.  Decorating decisions need to include your roommate(s).

If you get these basic concepts, the rest flows from there.  Hopefully, you will wait to decide on decorating details until after you are at school, but most freshmen just can't help themselves.  Consulting with your new roommate over the summer is a great idea (fits criteria 2), but without seeing your new room, it might be hard to meet criteria 1.

You can find lots of examples of great dorm rooms online and I've collected a lot of pictures and tips on my board Dorm Decorating on Pinterest.  For now, I just want to make a couple of points about dorm room decorating:

1.  Maximize the use of space - including airspace.  Raising your bed it a great idea.  If you can get the bed high enough, you can put your desk underneath.  Make sure to check your school's policies on this and make sure you are being safe.

2.  A dorm room is not as big as your room at home - unless you live in a trailer.  Unless you share a room in a trailer with someone else, your room at home doesn't have two beds, two desks, two chairs and two closets. Don't try to copy pictures of rooms that are clearly bigger than your dorm room.  Wait until you get to school and take a careful look at what you have.

3.  Keep it functional.  Don't bring in extra furniture - really.  It might be cute, but not so much when you are tripping over it in the middle of the night.  You can have a beautiful and functional room without extra furniture - really.

4.  NO CLUTTER.  There are lots of cool products - shelving, storage bins, side tables, etc.  Clutter makes your room look messy, unorganized, and, if it's possible, smaller than it actually is.  Leave the knick-knacks at home.

5.  Talk to your roommate and coordinate.  You both might have great taste, but it isn't fun to have different decorating themes in one little room.  Compromise - you're just getting started.  Everyday you come in to see a schizophrenic room, it will remind you that you and your roommate can't compromise.

6.  If you or your roommate intend to study, relax or sleep in your dorm room, don't plaster the walls with thousands of high school pictures and then hang Christmas lights around it.  See above.  It's not only tacky, it is very distracting and certainly not condusive to concentration or relaxation. 

7.  Make your function pretty.  You can have some storage under your bed that looks good.  You can add some nice curtains that keep the excess light out while masking those ugly blinds.  If you would like extra seating, turn a storage bin into an ottoman. (But not two in the middle of the room!)

8.  Get a nice rug, but consider throw rugs instead of bigger carpeting pieces.  Your carpet will likely never see a vacuum unless one is available for common use in the dorm.  However, a throw rug can be washed.

9.  Use light colors.  When winter comes and you get stir crazy in your little dorm room, you won't want to be surrounded by dark colors covering the walls and your bed.  Just like dark paint, dark decorations dominating the bed and walls will make your little dorm room smaller.

10.  Keep it clean!  At the risk of sounding like your mom, a clean room will keep you and your roommate happy.  Just like a happy wife, a happy roommate makes for a happy college life!

Don't forget to check out my Pinterest account for more college ideas!