My freshman dorm room was hardly something I bragged about. I slept on a shabby mattress, did my homework on a shabby desk and my idea of decorating included throwing up a couple of posters and having a decent bed set. As I recall, one of those posters had to be rather large to cover the huge stain on the wall above my bed.
I could have been embarrassed by this dorm room, but I wasn’t, simply because they were almost all as bad as mine. Just don’t ask me about my really strange first roommate.
I have no idea what that dorm room looks like today, but I’m sure it’s safe to say the stain on the wall is gone (at least I hope it is) and I’m sure they changed out the mattress. One thing I do know for sure is that the pressure to have a nice dorm room is greater than ever.
With rapidly rising tuition costs, there isn’t always much room in the budget for fancy decor. Fortunately, you don’t need to spend a lot to make your student’s room both comfy and inviting.
Decorate to your student’s personality
Let your child’s personality flourish in their first place away from home, but to avoid conflict, take the roommate shopping so they can both agree on decisions. Use removable picture hangers to hang artwork. Buy some plants and knick-knacks, and of course, buy bedding that matches your child’s personality. A rug will make getting ready for those brutal 8:00 am classes in the winter just a little less brutal.
Some schools will let you loft beds. This can create a lot of room for a desk and even a futon.
Create entertainment space
Even if your child was a wallflower in high school, don’t assume they’ll be the same in college. It’s amazing how living in close proximity with people your own age can sometimes turn even the shyest people into near extroverts.
To create entertainment space, turn the bed into a day bed with lots of comfy pillows. The bed has to be up against the wall for this to work. If the dorm allows, purchase a small refrigerator and a small microwave for snacks. If your child drinks coffee, rather than having them blow their spending money at Starbucks, buy them a coffee maker or even an inexpensive espresso/cappuccino maker. Buy some decent external speakers for their computer, and viola, entertaining space.
You can also add seating with some multifunctional pieces like storage ottomans.
Create a comfortable study space
This is probably even more important than creating the entertainment space. Most dorm rooms come with desks, which is great. Rather than adding personality with clutter, let your student pick out a desk set that matches their personality. Don’t forget to add a plant, and if there’s room, perhaps a gold fish in a bowl. That’s one way to combat dreariness. Another is to move the desk near the window.
Avoid the roommate
If your child’s first roommate is anything like mine, you’ll want to create some private space. This can be done with a bookcase or even an old fashioned room divider.
Bring reminders from home
Being thrown into the lions’ den of college can be a bit of a culture shock for someone who’s never been on their own. Send your child with a couple of things from their bedroom at home and perhaps with some family pictures. Arrange the pictures as a collage on one wall. It will be both chic and comforting.