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Dos and Don'ts of Dorm Decor

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College is an exciting time for many people and an experience that most kids look forward to for most of their early lives. For the majority of incoming freshmen, moving away to college will be the first time living away from home, and while most dorm rooms are no bigger than their bedroom back at home, it's the feeling of freedom and independence that usually gets college freshmen excited about dorm life - at least in the beginning.

One of the things that college students look forward to the most upon moving into their dorm rooms is decorating it. That bare and empty room that looks so devoid of any kind of life or personality on move-in day is going to be your home for at least the next nine months, so it's important to decorate it and make it feel a little more like home and a little less like a prison cell. Decorating a dorm room can be as simple as putting up a few of your favorite posters and pictures of your friends and family, or it can be a process involving buying matching furniture and bed spreads. However you go about the process, remember that there is such a thing as too much when it comes to decorating a dorm room, so you may want to keep things somewhat reasonable.

There are dos and don'ts of dorm room décor that you should take into consideration when decorating your room and since you're dealing with a space that is so small and intimate, there is a thin line between tastefully decorating and going overboard. Always remember that even though it's important for you to let your personality and your interests shine through in your decorating and even though it's important that you make your room a comfortable home for the school year, make sure that you decorate wisely and follow these pieces of advice.


  • Decorate your walls with some posters/artwork. Most college dorm rooms are painted white walls that are not the slightest bit inviting. While you won't be able to paint them, you can still cover them up with some posters or artwork. Many schools will have a big poster sale on campus during the first few weeks of the semester so you can stock up on some of your favorites, or you can bring ones from home. The choice is up to you, but the space is limited, so choose wisely.
  • Invest in a good lamp and a good desk chair. Most dorm rooms will provide you with the standard wooden desk with a lamp and a chair, but the chairs they give you are uncomfortable and bulky and resemble the kinds of chairs you'd find in an elementary school library. Instead, treat yourself to a comfortable desk chair and a good lamp, because you're going to need it. You'll probably spend many hours at that desk over the course of the semester, so you might as well be comfortable in it.
  • Bring plenty of sheets, blankets, pillows and comforters. College dorm room beds are not comfortable, so lining your bed with as many comfortable blankets and pillows as you can, will help you get used to sleeping on it. If you can somehow manage to bring your own bed with you, or buy a futon, then you should take advantage of that option. Just don't buy anything too expensive, because it will be exposed to the often messy world of college dorm life.
  • If you need furniture, go the cheap route. As with your bed, any other furniture in your dorm room is going to be put through the ringer, so it's usually best to go with cheap or used furniture. Plus, when you move out of your dorm, you most likely won't want to pack all that furniture and lug it back home with you, you'll either want to leave it out on the curb for incoming freshmen or give it away on Craigslist.
  • There's no such thing as too much storage. Since you'll only have one small closet for all of your clothes and belongings, invest in some plastic storage bins that you can easily slide under your bed, under your desk or in your closet. These bins will be an excellent place for you to store any miscellaneous belongings that you need to hold onto, like school-related papers and documents and anything else you don't want cluttering up your dorm room.


  • Overdo it with the posters. While it's a good idea to decorate your walls and make your dorm room feel a little more like home, you should exercise moderation and try not to overdo it. You'll end up making your room feel smaller and cluttered if you put too many things on your walls. Also, try to stay away from the same clichéd posters that every college freshmen puts on their walls. Be unique.
  • Decorate your room with empty bottles. This is a popular tradition for college students, but it's not original and it doesn't make for good décor. Remember, for the next year your dorm room is your home, not a recycling plant.
  • Bring everything you own. You may like your things that you had in your old bedroom at home and you may feel the urge to pack up your entire life and bring it with you to college, but the fact of the matter is that there just isn't enough room. Storage is scarce in dorm rooms and bringing along your entire wardrobe when you'll end up wearing the same three outfits to class all week is pointless. Pack your summer and fall clothes for when you arrive and when you return home for Thanksgiving, take your warm weather clothes home with you and swap them out for your winter clothes.
  • Leave your room a mess. With a room as small as your dorm room, messes can happen quickly and suddenly. After only a few days of not cleaning and tidying up, the mess can build up until it seems almost overwhelming, making it harder to clean. Stay one step ahead of the mess, dispose of all your garbage as soon as you can and don't allow your room to be cluttered with trash, dirty laundry and other things.

Robert Moreschi  Posted by Robert Moreschi on August 7, 2013

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