College dorms tend to be bland and sterile. They are also the first opportunity that many young people get to try their hand at interior decorating. With some planning, you can make your room a fun abode you will be happy to spend time in. Here are some pointers to help you get started.
1) Talk to your roommate
One of the first things you should do is consult with your roommate for you need to figure out what the two of you like and dislike. You also need to coordinate your efforts enough that your designs don’t clash and that you don’t bring the same things; you will not need two mini-fridges, for example. You may want to choose a color scheme and/or theme and design your room accordingly. A pair of chess fans, for example, may want to buy a chess table.
2) Scope out the room ahead of time
If possible, visit the dorm room before moving in. Try to find out its approximate dimensions and what’s already in it. Some rooms have more built-in storage space and shelves than do others. If you already have lots of shelves, you may be able to leave some of the storage bins at home. Similarly, check the college’s rules beforehand. Many colleges, for example, don’t allow students to paint their room or hammer nails into the walls. You will thus have to work within those limits.
3) Handle the big stuff first
Before unpacking everything lay out the rug(s) and rearrange the layout of the furniture. A typical college dorm will often have the furniture lined up against the walls. Some students like that and others do not. Consider where to put things you will both use, like the mini-fridge or TV, versus things you won’t share, like your beds or desks.
4) Use stickers or posters to decorate the walls
Wall art can help make a dorm look bigger, and it can certainly make it look more inviting. There are many types of wall decals, and they come in a variety of sizes. Many are reusable, so you can peel them off the wall when the year is over and then bring them back in the fall. Some wall decals are also calendars or message boards, making them useful as well as decorative. A company called Fathead.com sells “Instant Windows,” which provide a “view” of the mountains, the beach, or the New York skyline. You can also use temporary wallpaper. Do double-check with the RA to make sure it isn’t against the rules.
5) Pay particular attention to your workspace
Make sure your desk has good lighting. Similarly, plan ahead to reduce clutter, and get a storage bin for papers you need to keep and a jar for your pens. Don’t let your desk become a repository for items not related to school work, such as mail or packages.
6) Maximize storage space
You will be living in your dorm for the better part of a year. Consequently, no matter how neat and tidy you try to be, stuff will accumulate. Look for ways to increase the amount of storage space you have. One popular method is using bed risers; these items go under the bedposts and raise the bed by a few inches, so you can stash things like storage tubs or shoes underneath. Some bed risers are also fairly decorative in their own right. You might also want to consider a hamper for dirty clothes or a shoe rack you can hang on the closet door.
7) Plan your kitchen space
Many dorm rooms have mini-fridges and microwave ovens. Learning how to cook your own nutritious meals will help you avoid the “Freshmen 15,” save money, and learn a useful skill you’ll need when it’s time to move out on your own. Again, you will have to check the college rules, but you could add a coffee maker or ceramic egg cooker to your kitchen.