Going off to college can be quite a transition, but it can also be quite an exciting adventure. For one thing, you get to create your very first home. Whether you live in a college dorm, an apartment or a house, there are ways to make your new pad feel like a comforting oasis. Here, you’ll find ways to make your living space a reflection of you, from color schemes and artwork to storage units and lighting.
Dorm Room Decorating Tips
Before you start hunting-down items for your college living space, there are a few key things to take into consideration.
- Living Space: Find out via your college website or college student housing office specifics regarding your dorm room, such as dimensions and any fixtures that come with your living unit. This way, you will be able to determine if you need items such as a book shelf, lamps, a mini-refrigerator, furniture, etc.
- Contact your Future Roommate: Discuss room decor, budgets, and additional financial arrangements such as utility bills. Throughout this conversation, be flexible and offer ideas and suggestions. You may draw a roommate with very specific tastes, or a roommate who frankly doesn’t care what you plan to do with the living space. So be open, respectful and honest in your discussions. Maybe you can decide upon a color-scheme, at the least, to coordinate college supply purchases.
- Use the Internet for Ideas: The Internet is the best tool for planning a college dorm and it gives you the opportunity to plan your living set-up and bookmark items you might want to locate and/or purchase. First, just get ideas. Then, begin to make a list of the items you will need to purchase for the college move.
- Consider your Budget: Whether you’ll be borrowing a few things from mom and dad or buying a whole new set of items for college, keep your spending range in mind.
Choose a Dorm Theme
The first thing to do when deciding how to decorate your dorm room is to select a dorm theme. The best way to go about this is to choose a favorite personal item that embodies what you are about. It might be a funky pair of shoes, a wall hanging, a motorcycle helmet, an autographed football or a coffee table book. Whatever the case, choose that special item and build your room around it. If interior design isn’t your thing, don’t worry, it’s much easier than it sounds.
How to Build Around a Theme
Let’s say, for example, you decide to choose a black, silver and red skateboard for your personal item. From here, we’ll build a prototype room around this object:
- Location: First, find a prominent place to display your skateboard, such as a shelf or window ledge. Make it the focal point of your room, because the rest of your room’s decor will flow around this special item.
- Color Scheme: Obviously, you must incorporate black, silver, red and shades of these colors into the overall layout of the room. When it comes to color shades, stick to these rules of thumb: Light colors are ideal for background (if your walls are gray, white or off-white, perfect). Medium colors are good for furniture and window coverings, since these colors blend and give the room a grounded, calming foundation. Finally, dark, bold colors are ideal for accessories, such as pillows, throw covers, lamps and comforter. These bold colors will make your room “pop.”
- Floor Covering: Consider a gray, red, or black rug (stay away from light colors, because this will make maintaining your rug much easier). A rug will soften the look and feel of your room’s hard flooring and make it more inviting.
- Lighting: A chrome or silver colored lamp will add dimension to your room, and bring out the silver color etched in the skateboard. Again, this will serve to pull your room’s color-scheme together. Lighting is essential for a college dorm, where after-hours study time is a key focus.
- Artwork: Taking your room’s color scheme into consideratoin, find artwork that involves bright colors with points of red, black or silver. If you like, go with a black frame, and find a poster that brings in different, fun colors. Any type of artwork will do, whether it is a poster, mural or painting to set the tone for your room and provide eye-appeal through color and texture variations. You’ll want your room to be soothing and inviting for yourself and those who come to visit.
- Comfortable Seating: If you have space, incorporate a bean bag chair or ottoman. Furniture can be blue, gray, red, or any additional color found in your artwork. Keep the color scheme cohesive with anchor colors of black and gray, played up with brighter colors.
- Bedding: When it comes to choosing a bedspread, a reversible comforter might be the best way to go. In this case, maybe select a black and gray comforter (darker colors won’t show signs of soil as quickly) and incorporate a few colorful pillows and a throw blanket.
- Personal Items: Usually dorm rooms include wall shelves or desk shelving. If this is the case, bring personal items from home, such as picture frames, books, awards, alarm clock, etc. This is your new home, so make it as inspiring as possible with items that remind you of who you are, what you’ve accomplished and where you’re going in life.
Decorating on a Tight Budget
Your budget might determine what you do with your dorm room. If your funds are a little tight, you might have to get a little more innovative with the items you already have. Either way, there are still numerous ways to make your college room a great place to call home. The following are things to consider.
- Build your Room Around a Cool Donation: In the event mom and dad or relatives are looking to clear out the garage or a spare room, you might find an unexpected treasure to use in your dorm decorating foray. For instance: Suppose you find a yellow retro chair with unusual color variations or patterns. In this case, select that piece and then build your entire room’s color scheme and accessories around that item.
- Bedding Basics: Keep in mind, your bed will often double for use as a coffee table, study area and couch. After all, it’s going to be one of the largest pieces of furniture in your room. For females, you may want to consider a fun, feminine floral comforter with reversible solid or stripe pattern, showcasing the yellow color found in the retro chair donated by your parents. For guys, consider the same option, but go with a bold, deep color.
- Raise your Bed: Many students find it practical, not to mention cool looking, to raise their beds a foot or two. This can be easily done by purchasing four-to-eight cement blocks at the local discount or hardware store. In doing so, you will make extra space for luggage, extra clothing, books and additional items. There are also great options for creativity if you choose to design and build your own bed loft.
- Plastic Crates: Stacked crates provide a nice looking, yet functional storage and shelving option. Crates can be purchased at many discount stores and storage specialty shops. In addition to practicality, crates come in a wide variety of colors, ranging from black to pink, so they will complement your overall color scheme. Note: Crates are also great for closet organization.
- Adhesive Hooks: Hooks can be purchased to quickly install on the back of closet and room doors. This is a great added use for quickly hanging jackets, purses, umbrellas and other items.
- Computer Desk: Regardless of whether you’ll be using a desktop or laptop, make sure you find a place in your room for your computer. You will want the area to be well lit and near a power outlet. Keep this in mind when you are organizing and formatting the layout of your room.
- The Bare Walls: Before you do anything extreme like painting your walls, check with your landlord or university housing department to determine the rules. Posters are a great way to decorate and many colleges have booths and sales of posters during the first week of school. You can select from hundreds of pieces of artwork to make your room extra comfortable. Frames can be purchased at many stores to fit your artwork, or, you may buy special adhesive patches to quickly affix art to your bare walls.
- Dry Erase Boards and Cork Boards: A dry erase board is important for communicating to friends and your roommate regarding your whereabouts. You can affix this to the outside of your door or on your closet door, etc. A large cork board can become a piece of artwork within itself when decorated with fun, colorful, pictures, personal momentos and inspirational messages.
- Lights: Fun, colorful lights or clear, classy Christmas tree lights can be strung around your room for additional ambiance. Additional lighting will make the room calming and inviting when it comes time to study or when you walk into your home late at night.
- Plants: Any sort of living green thing can add a special touch to a dorm room. Many plants don’t require a lot of special attention, so consider the type of plant when you make your selection.
- Fabric: If you are looking for a quick window-fix, a long, draped piece of fabric will do the trick. In addition to adding color to your room, a draped fabric will also cover basic window blinds to give your room a homey touch.