By Annette Cinelli
Your dorm room is your home away from home ~ and when your parents turn your bedroom in into a study or give it to a younger sibling during your sophomore or junior year, it may actually feel more like your first home! Whether you have one room that on move-in day slightly resembled a prison cell, or if you’re lucky enough to have apartment-style housing with a bedroom, living room, kitchen and bathroom to decorate, the key to a fun living space is finding your style and making it happen. Here are some decorating tips that’ll help you make the most out of your “nest” while giving it a cool, personal touch.
Let’s start with the bedroom. Of course the bed is the most important piece in that room, and in some cases it has to function not only as a place to sleep, but also watch TV, hang out, and study. So you better make it comfortable and fun! Look for a bedspread in your favorite color and you can coordinate the rest of your room around it. Now that doesn’t mean everything has to be the same color ~ there is such a thing as too much matching. Go for colors that compliment each other. Reversible quilts are a lot of fun so try to find one with a solid color on one side and stripes or a cool pattern on the other. Also invest in some throw pillows or body pillows to create a make-shift couch during the day. The Christmas Tree Shop has lots of inexpensive, cute pillows that’ll do the trick ~ and get a few extra in different colors so that you can mix ‘em up if you start to get bored with staring at the same room month after month.
Storage is quite limited in many dorm rooms, so definitely invest in some bed risers and storage crates in bright colors. For desk organizers, pick up some colored stackable storage cubes. Also invest in a clip-on desk lamp for late night studying. Picture frames are also great desk accessories and you can find them anywhere! If you are feeling creative, why not buy a wooden one at Michael’s or AC Moore and paint and decorate it yourself?
The walls of your room are your canvas and the perfect place to show others your style and interests. Why not pick a theme for your posters? Put up ones of all your favorite bands or of the 80s movies you love. Or make it a shrine to your favorite sports team. The options are endless! Posters are available all over, and at the beginning of the year there may even me a vendor right on campus. You can also decorate with photographs, playbills, concert tix, and magazine clippings. Memo boards are great background for some of these smaller mementos. Pick one up at Linens -n -Things, or make your own with a bulletin board, colorful fabric, and ribbon. Buy an extra (or a mini dry-erase board) and hang it on the front door of your room so that people can leave you messages, too.
The living room is a common area and should reflect everyone’s taste and style. Why not take a day to go out as a group and shop to decorate it? Otherwise, you may end up with a mesh of fake flowers, tie-dyed wall hangings, abstract artsy posters, and a poster of mixology. Some great items (all available in a multitude of colors, fabrics, and textures) for any living room are a futon, butterfly chair, and video rocker. The video rocker is the perfect addition for video gamers. It sits right on the floor and is specifically designed for watching TV and playing video games. As for wall decor, since it’s for the common area, try go get a variety that represents at least one thing that everyone agrees is cool. Pick up the classic Animal House Poster, or maybe a Red Sox or Patriots poster. You can also show some school spirit with a banner from your college. Add a touch of class with a print of an Andy Warhol painting or even something more classical like an Impressionist work (great because so many of them have such a spectrum of color). Check out Target for cool floor lamps ~ and you can even experiment with different color light-bulbs.
Electronics are key for a good common area, too. To save money, why not pick up a TV/DVD combo? If you’re a party person and have a bit of money to drop, definitely invest in some high-end speakers for your IPod. Make a party mix play list, stick it in on a Friday night, and you’re good to go.
For the kitchen, think colorful, inexpensive dishware. Plates, utensils, all that stuff is pretty much a necessity, so you might as well make them fun!, Red plates, blue cups, orange bowls, your choices are endless, and almost everything is microwave safe these days. And on that note, don’t forget to grab a microwave and toaster oven too (if they’re allowed at your school).
The key to a good college bathroom is a festive shower curtain, matching rug, and organizers, organizers, organizers! With several people sharing one bathroom (or even if it’s just you and you’re one of those different-hair-product-for-each-day-of-the-week people!) you want to make sure everything has its place and there aren’t 7 bottles of shampoo and conditioner sitting around the shower (or, God forbid, on the bathroom floor!). Invest in an organizer to hang over the shower-head. Also pick up a shelf to go over the toilet. For other things you have to bring with you to and from, pick up a cute plastic shower basket.
Decorating your dorm can be a blast, but it can also be overwhelming, especially if you’re a freshman or just moving into an apartment style dorm room. Start by taking inventory of what you already have, and then make a list of what you need. Prioritize it so you buy the stuff you really want and need first. Talk with your roommates, go shopping together, coordinate…and if you’re all on good terms, don’t buy things in duplicate or triplicate. With a little bit of work and creativity, you can have a fun, well-decorated dorm room that you’ll love to show off to your parents and friends!
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