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How To Deal: Drab Dorms

One thing every freshman notices when they arrive at their new school is how ugly the walls and furniture can be. Living in a dorm is an experience most of us wish we never had to do. They have an institutional feel that’s not unlike a prison cell, only with bad curtains on the windows instead of bars. Your typical dormitory room comes with two beds, two dressers, two desks, and either very old carpet or icy cold tile. Fortunately, I have researched some tips to make that very small space something you aren’t afraid to show.

Invest in throw pillows. They can add color and zing to the otherwise drab furniture. A body pillow can come in handy to turn your bed into a couch when friends are over.
Lights/Lamps. They come in handy if you need extra lighting. Desk lamps that have an organizational caddy help give you more space on your desk. White lights will complement any décor, or choose colored lights in funky shapes like stars or hearts.

Storage. Milk crates create some storage under your bed, and they’re stackable so they don’t take up as much room. Plastic totes are wonderful inventions that provide storage and also don’t take up as much room. The multiple sizes help with the different needs of students. They can hold all your towels and sheets or those random things you can’t find a place for. Stores like Targets or Kohl’s sell good quality foldable shelving.  An alternative to plastic crates is a wire storage system, which lets you assemble your own crates and dismantle or reorganize them later. Or you can buy some decorative hatboxes in varying sizes for extra storage.

More and more college students are buying small ottomans. They provide extra storage as well as seating. It really helps that you can hide them under your bed or desk.

Photoson your wall help cover up the ugly color and let you express who you are.  You can share your favorite memories and create new ones. French memo boards can hold a whole bunch of pictures, ticket stubs, or magazine cutouts. Buy one at Bed, Bath and Beyond, Linens’ N Things, or make one out of cardboard, fabric, and ribbon. College is a time in your life that is filled with memories and people you will never forget.

Show off achievements or interests with your posters. You can type up some of your favorite quotes and tape them to your walls. Here is a small list of poster ideas that aren’t so cliché:

  • Pop culture retro “kid” posters. Feeling nostalgic? Get a hold of a Strawberry Shortcake poster, or Sesame Street, or your childhood pop culture favorite. Superhero and anime posters fall into this category as well.
  • Old advertisements. Old magazine ads for all kinds of projects are a great conversation piece. Check out eBay to find examples.
  • Movie posters. Some of these are overused, like Scarface. But choose a poster for a movie you love that everybody else doesn’t, and you’ve got a unique poster. Old movie posters can give your room a classy retro feel.
  • Make your own. For an especially creative touch, take a picture of your choice and have it turned into a poster. Most online and storefront photo shops will provide this service.

A laundry line is a great alternative for you to string up pictures or ticket stubs on the wall or across the room. Urban Outfitters has a laundry line with suction cups for easy use.

Sheer fabric draped across the window or over a bed creates a soft, romantic look. Or if you have an open closet, put up a colorful shower curtain to individualize your space or hide dirty laundry.
Postcard murals. Postcards are cheap, colorful, and fun. Collect postcards from places you’ve been and places your friends have been and turn them into unique posters. If you’re crafty, create a postcard mobile.

Plants. Living things make a room feel much more like home, and since pets are a very bad idea, why not get a plant? Unless you have a green thumb, it’s probably a good idea to stick with low-maintenance varieties.
How do you choose a theme? Start with what you like. Are you interested in skiing, surfing, guitars, movies, TV stars, Star Wars, mountain biking, dancing, ballet, football, classical music, or cars? Start there.

Or do you always choose things that are blue, lavender, silver, metallic, star-shaped, angel-themed, tie-dyed, or animal printed? Is your ideal room modern, country, classic, trendy, funky, traditional, ethnic, or eclectic? Any of these are good choices for a great room that expresses YOU.
Use your imagination. A dorm room isn’t exactly the most exhilarating place, but it’s also a blank canvas, so take those blah white walls and add something unusual that expresses your personality.

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