a decorated dorm room

Your dorm doesn’t have to look like this one straight out of a catalog–make it unique & make it a real home!

Now that you have all received your housing assignments, and hopefully roommate information, I’m sure you are all just itching to start buying all your dorm room goodies!

Remember that a dorm room is temporary– it is a room that you will be living in for possibly only one year. Dorm rooms have beds that are not normal sized, meaning that your sheets will only fit that bed. You will probably walk in to a large chain department store and see how you can buy everything for your residence hall room in the same color and pattern.

But, maybe you don’t need your comforter to match your dishes and you probably have picture frames and decorations at home now that would look fantastic in a residence hall room. Why spend your money on all of these brand new things that will probably be boxed up in a year?

Instead, think about stopping by a local consignment shop like Salvation Army, Goodwill or Volunteer Services. I bought my first set of glasses at a consignment shop and they are in great condition now two years later– no one would ever guess that they were used.

These stores have all of the dorm essentials that other people bought at the brand name stores that they stopped using. Plus, I bet a decent chunk of you incoming freshman have older siblings. Are they still using their residence hall stuff?

If not, grab those items because as a college student you will learn that any way you can save money is completely worth it! My little sister is starting her freshman year of college this fall and she will be using my dorm supplies. There is nothing wrong with a good hand-me-down.

Of course there will be those few products that going to somewhere like Target, Wal-Mart, Shopko, Kmart, or whatever your nearest store is, to find certain essential items.

For example, you will probably want a mini fridge, a microwave, a television, or smaller things like a coffee pot which takes us back to my last post about talking to your roommate. This is where communication starts! See who already has what.

Graduation parties can be amazing things when it comes time to put together a room. Maybe your roommate got one of these needed items already, well there’s no reason to have two! Talk to each other and plan out who brings what so you aren’t spending more money than necessary.

I was that freshman that wanted everything to match. I got the comforter with the matching sheets, the regular and decorative pillows, the pink mini fridge to match my sheets, my dishes matched, I bought the picture frames, and everything. My dorm room looked like it had come out of a magazine, but let me tell you, it didn’t feel like home.

And where is all that stuff now? In storage totes above my parents garage. Your dorm room should be inviting and unique. The most comforting things are the oldest items that are full of memories. Bring your old pillow that you have slept on for years. Bring the picture frame that has been in your room since you were a toddler or the blanket you cuddle up with on the couch.

Those are the pieces that are going to remind you of home, but also make your dorm room your own.

Your half of the room does not need to match your roommate’s half, that’s the fun of it—you’re bringing two different people together. Plus, this way you will save money and have items that you can use down the line in a house or apartment.

Have fun decorating your room, but look at the big picture and make sure everything you put in it is something you love!

–Caitlin Reineke