Take your bare dorm room and transform it into your...

Take your bare dorm room and transform it into your new home. Credit: Handout

It’s unlikely that your college dorm room will be one of the fanciest places you’ll ever live-and that’s probably a good thing! But those cramped quarters will still be your home-sweet-home for a while, your go-to spot for reading, studying, hanging out-and, oh yeah, sleeping, too.

So if you’re like most college students, you’ll want to turn that basic bunker into a cozy and welcoming place.

These tips can help you create your perfect comfort zone on a student budget.

Know the rules. Colleges typically have strict regulations governing dorm rooms, so check before buying anything to find out what’s permitted. Certain items-like halogen lamps and flammable wall hangings-are usually banned for safety reasons. Other things-like painting or using nails on your walls-also might be prohibited, whereas self-adhesive wallpaper and reusable putty are probably okay. While you’re at it, investigate what furniture the college provides: A bed, desk and dresser are typical. Many schools actually post a “floor plan” of the various room configurations so you can begin to re-arrange the furniture before you even arrive!

Talk to your roommate. If you’re sharing a room with one or more classmates, you might want to connect in advance so you can coordinate who’s bringing what. Maybe you’ll decide that one of you will supply the TV while the other brings a microwave. Work as a team to streamline the amount of stuff you’ll have. And, if you’re so inclined, make joint decisions about things such as color schemes, room themes and other decorating ideas.

Optimize space. Dorm rooms are notoriously tiny, and it can be challenging to fit all your things into such small quarters. Free up more floor space by lofting your bed: Use risers or cinderblocks to elevate it so you can store books, clothing or even a beanbag chair underneath. Whenever possible, let furniture do double-duty: A mini-fridge can also function as a nightstand for your lamp or a place to keep your laptop. A collapsible hamper can work overtime as a laundry bin. Get brightly colored stackable bins (spray-painted milk crates work well!) where you can store your belongings in a space-saving, horizontal fashion.

Emphasize organization. Nothing makes a small space look worse than books and clothing strewn all over the floor. When setting up your room, look for ways to make it easy to keep things orderly. Put self-adhesive hooks on the inside of closet doors (or even on the walls if you’re allowed) so you can easily hang clothing, pots and pans and coffee mugs. Get an over-the-door shoe bag to store, not only footwear, but also things like socks, scarves and even eating utensils. Gather up decorative boxes so you can stash your jewelry, hair accessories, pens and pencils and so on. Don’t forget to buy a shower caddy to keep your soap, shampoo and toothpaste all in one easy place.

Begin with bedding. Since your bed will be the main focal point of your room, start by buying a comforter to use as the basis of your decorating scheme. Look for one that’s sturdy-and stain-resistant! A reversible solid color one is a good option; dress it up with inexpensive patterned pillows or a cozy throw to add a more personal touch. As far as other bedding, keep in mind that many colleges have extra-long beds so you’ll need to buy the right size sheets. They are usually available throughout the summer at big box and neighborhood stores.

Deck the Walls. Personalize your side of the room by hanging artwork that reflects your unique style. Large posters of your favorite band or vacation spots are a popular option. (You can buy them online or score free ones at tourist offices or record stores.) Wall maps and sports pennants can also be bright, inexpensive decorations. Another idea: Using a brightly colored poster board as a background, make a collage of personal photos of family and friends. Hang it near your bed so when the stress of college life gets to you, you’ll can look at those familiar faces and try to relax.


Cheap Chic Decorating Ideas

An inexpensive throw rug can soften the look of a room.

A small lamp will make your space feel homier than the school’s fluorescent lights.

A brightly patterned bed sheet (unfitted) can be fashioned into a curtain for your window or a cover for open closet space.

A bed lounge pillow can turn your bed into a place where you can sit up to read or study.

A thick foam pad or featherbed will make your mattress more comfortable.

An erasable white board gives you a place to post your to-do list and leave messages for friends and roommates.

A full-length mirror can be hung on the outside of your closet door.

A live potted plant on your windowsill will add a touch of class to your room!


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