Whether you are a soon-to-be college student, nostalgic parent, or undergrad yourself, I bet you are frantically searching Pinterest, artsy blogs and home décor magazines every chance you can get, trying to figure out the essentials for the perfect dorm. Having a très chic ‘hole in the wall,’ ‘shoebox,’ ‘closet’ – whatever title you prefer for this uber-small room – is basically a necessity when it comes to your college experience. More likely than not, you will enter college knowing next to no one, and let’s face it, being the girl with the dorm that everyone envies will grant you instant popularity. Creating this space, as I’m sure you’ve gathered from your endless research, involves a lot more than a cute comforter from Urban Outfitters, a few posters, and some jewelry stands…. You’re going to have to get creative with this one, gals!
Luckily, I just survived my first year of college, and already starting to plan the décor for my new on-campus apartment in the fall. I know the dos and don’ts of the ever-so-competitive game.
They always say it’s best to get the bad news over with first, so I now present you with the big fat noes of college living. Unfortunately, there are a lot of rules when it comes to dorm rooms. A difficult one to accept is that you will have to endure a white, often faded or yellowed albeit, wall for a long time. Two, puncturing your walls with nails, no matter the price of the picture frame you are trying to hang, is definitely a no-no, so invest in some mini command hooks. Three, your university worries that you will catch one of their multimillion dollar structures on fire during your stay. Therefore, all of those absolutely delicious smelling Anthro, or in my case Henri Bendel, candles that you just hoarded will have to stay at home… devastating, I know.
So now you know what you can’t bring, but what can you? Well basically everything, the biggest challenge is narrowing down your favorite items so they will all fit.
My awesome roommate and I on our second day at school with humid hair and sweaty/wet clothes from bouncing from activity to activity for Welcome (freshman) orientation weekend (it rained almost the entire day). My hat hair was insane, I was wearing my school hat before I took this picture.
Don’t Let the White Walls Scare You
The first time you set foot into your new room you will call home for the next nine months can be slightly intimidating especially if you’re sharing it with a new roommate you never met. Don’t let the plain brick walls intimate you into thinking your living in a jail cell. Bring lots of posts and art to cover the wall, I would recommend an art collage or you can go with buying a tapestry that brings color and personality. Also, invest in some light strands, (I stole some for our Christmas box) to hang around the room. It makes it super cozy at night before you go to bed.
The First day I moved onto campus
Raise Your Bed as High as it will go
If you’re scared of heights maybe this isn’t as good of an idea, but it creates so much under the bed storage, I was able to bring a ton of storage containers on wheels that easily rolled around so I could store, an entire container full of food and beauty products under my bed along with my laundry hamper and empty suitcases and backpacks. Your room is going to be tight so you will want to make as much room as possible. If you’re on the shorter side, you might want to invest in a step stole or I used an ottoman that doubled as storage. I didn’t purchase bed risers I just raised my bed to the highest notch and I was fine.
Everything Won’t be Picture Perfect
I learned this the hard way after two days living with my roommate and I realized she wasn’t going to make the bed every day and that things were going to get a little dirty. As much as I wanted things to be perfect I had to realize, that if I was going to live with someone else it needed to be functional and not everyone lives the same way as you. That includes dirty clothes sometimes laying in the middle of the floor.
I love my roommate to death but we just weren’t on the same page, she believed keeping thing messy and my side was always clean and tidy. It wasn’t the picture perfect Pinterest dorm room I was hoping for.
Don’t bring decorations that have no purpose than to collect dust on your desk, but bring things that have a purpose, I invested a little more for a decorative stapler and tape dispenser. Don’t bring a bean bag that takes up space when you can bring a mini ottoman that can double as storage, but also double as a step stool for your bed. I invested in a lot of cute little boxes, that looked adorable lined at the top of my closet shelf, also pink wire bins that allowed color but also held things such as food and cleaning supplies.
Even if your dorm room is carpeted I would invest in a heavy rug for the floor, preferably a cheap one because no matter how much you try to keep it clean and nice it will get dirty very fast. My room had carpet but the disgusting stains from the previous owner was not a pretty sight and me and my roommate decided it was a good idea to cover it. I also would recommend a heavy one, due to the fact that ours would constantly keep coming around the room and never stay in place. We would constantly have trouble trying to open the fridge or things near it due to the rug bunching in. I wouldn’t recommend white since it gets dirty so fast but it’s honestly your preference and how neat and clean you plan on keeping your room.
Bring Pieces of Home
Even the toughest freshman will eventually get homesick, the first month felt like I was at summer camp, yet as the weeks wore on I realized I wasn’t going home. It was nice to have a little touch of home with me when I was missing my parents. Sure calling them was nice but knowing this was home away from home was a little nicer. I brought a favorite blanket from home, one that I didn’t just buy from the store and I had pictures. You could string them up on your lights with clothes pins, or I created this DIY project. I purchased wood letters from the craft store, and printed out black and white prints from a computer on regular printer paper and created a collage, on my initial. It was super cute and it was specific to me and it was a lot less hassle of putting up on the walls.
You’re going to practically live in your bed, well at least I did last year. I slept in it, snack on it (while watching Netflix) and did homework, and hung out with friends while sitting in it. If you want it comfy I would invest in some pillow to allow you to sit up comfortably. Body pillows or a reading pillow (bed rest pillow) different stores call them different names, but the more pillows you have the more comfortable and cozy not only your bed looks but feels.
I purchase these pillows a few months in when my mom came to visit me in October and they made my bed a world of a difference going from just my tow pillows that came with my bed set to these colorful throw pillows I picked up on clearance from Kirklands (my favorite store by the way).
Not all college supply a full-length mirror, and if they do they are usually located on the back of the room. I would wait to purchase this until you get there and you realize what you have. Depending where you go to school there is always a store only a couple miles from campus you can pick one up at.
Make it your own, purchase something different and to your personally. Pick bedding that is toward your personally, it’s going to be the most eye-catching the thing in the room make it reflect you. Also, keep in mind how long you will be using it. If you plan on living on campus for four years keep that in mind when picking out your bedding. Unless you plan on changing it every year, most kids don’t have the money and reuse their bedding every year. Don’t pick something you will outgrow in a year or won’t like.
Shrinking your Closet
I purchased a ton of new hangers when I came to college so everything matched, and I found that I really loved the plastic ones from target, I could get around 12 for only two dollars, but I also loved the thin velvet ones that were perfect for clothes that loved to slip around, thinner hangers meant more room to hang things, maximizing my closet, I also found that I could double hang things with adding pop can tab to the top of the hanger to hang something else. Your closet is a lot of space, so I maximized it by also purchasing a collapsible hanging shelf, which created lots more storage for things such as extra blankets, my hat collection, and more shoes. I also purchased a shoe rack for the bottom of the closet to stack my shoes, without collecting a huge pile on the floor, this concept was great for being able to see all my shoes, but it wasn’t great for Hunter and riding boots.
Your mattress isn’t going to be as nice as the one at home and I purchased a memory foam pad to add a little extra comfort. I didn’t buy anything too expensive because I am not terribly picking, purchasing a 1-3/4-inch pad from Target for less than $40 bucks, the thicker these get the more expensive they can get. My roommate purchased a $150 dollar 3″ inch mat but it was a twin and was a way too large width wise and would constantly slide and slip down the side of her bed. There are a few things that you can purchase in twin such as comforter and duvet and but I would recommend trying to purchase everything in Twin XL if possible because it’s made for college beds.
I realize this is a little longer of a post but I could talk about college and dorm rooms forever. Hope this helps y’all get an idea of what college living is like, each university is a little different. Reply in the comments if I should do a inspiration to my new apartment or a what not to bring to college list. College is just around the corner as July is already here and moving in is just around the bay.
Spreading Sprinkles and Sparkles,