Hopefully if you are reading this, congratulations is in order! Graduating is a big deal and you have a wonderful future ahead of you. So where do you start in planning your dorm or college living space? Follow along and I’ll give you a few tips learned from experience. My wish is that something will inspire you and help you find the perfect set up. When you are on a college budget, finding things to spruce up your first place at an affordable price is important. This is my daughter’s first dorm room and it has been pinned many times on Pinterest, so I thought I’d share the details a little.
Here are a few planning/prep tips we learned:
- come up with a simple theme style you like and that makes you happy
- decide on a color scheme with a few of your favorite colors. Think of colors that make you happy, remind you of home, and that will inspire you while you study
- look for sales, check Etsy sites, or make your decor and accents. Several stores have great accessories for dorms; Hobby Lobby, Target, Container Store, Michael’s Crafts Store and Kohl’s were a few we used
- if you know your roommate, discuss your ideas and see if you can coordinate a theme or tie them together somehow. They don’t need to match, but it feels less cluttered if they can go together a little. Maybe pick one color you both can use, or think of themes that might be opposite but work together such as “Urban Farmhouse”. One side can be casual shabby style and the other more clean lines and modern. Another way to coordinate is to pick neutral bedspreads that match & aren’t very busy, then tie in your own accessories or colors.
- It is a good idea to try to meet and do a get to know you either in person or face time. You can save a lot of money if you can pool your resources and share the burden of bringing items. Many things can be shared so you can each offer something to bring to both use together.
- Consider lofting your beds or use bed risers. Then put extra long dust ruffles on . That way you can hide all the “junk” . These ladies had their microwave, fridge, containers of food and extra blankets, sheets towels underneath.
- Large plastic containers with drawers are wonderful. They store things easily and if you use drawers, it eliminates “digging” through a giant bin to find what you are looking for
- (this is for the parents) DON’T expect their dorm to look anything like it did the first of the year when you move them out. Things will get dirty, broken, lost and look like they’ve been through the wringer! So try not to spend a fortune on anything or send them with good family heirlooms for decorations…they won’t survive I promise! (note move out photo at the end of this post)
My daughter and her roommate had similar styles and wanted to match their bedding and the colors of the room. I think it helped keep it feel less cluttered and more cohesive. Then they decorated their side of the room walls and desk areas with their own different decor and photos to personalize it and feel like home.
These are a few suggestions to help you with your set up and transport:
*Shop early in the summer before the stores get low on supplies. You wouldn’t believe how quickly dorm supplies run out when you most need them.
*Since you can’t nail into the wall, look for the Command section at Home Depot, Target, Walmart etc. There is so much variety available and the uses for them are endless. It will be a tremendous help in hanging and storing items. Don’t wait until you get to the dorm, everyone else will be purchasing them and your selection may be limited.
*Labeling containers ahead of time will help you speed things along when setting up your room and help you to see where things may need to be placed and what your needs are.
*Try to find things that can serve dual purposes. Good storage is the key.We used a little storage cube for a step to the bed, and stored books, and reading materials in them. You can use bins or drawers for bedding, towels, dry food goods etc.
*A diffuser with essential oils is a great way to get rid of stinky air without lighting a candle(big no no) My daughter brought different oils some uplifting, some to help with sleep etc.
*Consider spraying fabric items with a weather proofing spray to protect from spills and messy friends! you can also buy an inexpensive sheet that coordinates with your bedspread to lay over it as a cover when you and your friends are lounging on your bed
*When packing your clothes, purchase the thin velvet covered hangers to save closet space and leave your clothes on the hangers to transport. Just cover a big section of clothes with a large garbage bag and carry it that way. Then when you place them in your closet, you just remove the bags . You can also place all your bedding, pillows, blankets in large bags to transport as well.
*Think of creative ways to hang multiple photos. Old shutters, chicken wire in a frame, jute string with clothespins (that’s what we did) or make a collage in one large frame. The great thing about the clothespin idea is that the pictures can be changed throughout the year. These items also make great jewelry & scarf holders.
*Purchase drawer liner or use old wrapping paper in colors you like to line drawers, cover the back of your desk bulletin board etc.
*Cover your old ugly desk chair with a pillow case and tie a cute ribbon around it as a chair cover. If it gets dirty you can just throw it in the wash.
*The chandeliers were actually a last-minute thing. Both girls realized they had the same chandelier from their bedrooms and wanted to use them somehow. There happened to be an old light plate above the beds so the dads were able to loosen it a bit and use zip ties to attach it. The cords went behind the bedframe where they plugged in.
*We get a lot of questions about the headboards. The girls ordered them from a local girl on campus who made them. However, this past year we made our own for the second year’s apartment. I will do another post on that soon. It was very easy to do
*The flower letters were very simple to make. Just purchase a large initial letter at Hobby Lobby or Michael’s. Buy silk flowers in the colors you like that will coordinate. Be sure to get different varieties and sizes. Pull the flowers off the stems(save petals just in case) then lay them out how you’d like them arranged, you can use petals for fillers if needed. Use your glue gun to attach them to the letters. We didn’t even bother to paint the wood, it is covered anyway.
*Use inexpensive fabric for bed skirting and curtains. Remember you only really need to cover 2 sides of the bed. You can even use double stick Velcro to attach it. We used burlap and then just hot glued trim to the curtains.
Hopefully some of this information is helpful for you. It’s an exciting and emotional time for students and the parents. Just try not to overwhelm yourself with it all, work on it a little bit at a time throughout the summer so you can enjoy your time together and parents, be sure to give most of the responsibility to your child(now adult really) It’s time they learn how to set up a household and take care of their own things. My daughter paid for all of it with graduation and her job money.
Best of luck to you if you’re headed to your first year of college and remember not to stress yourself out too much or forget to have fun & be sure to hug your parents a lot, this is harder for them believe me!!