Ten great ways to decorate a student’s dorm

It’s that time of year again for the older students to head off to university. Some have departed but there are still a few waiting to begin a little later. If your student has moved into his or her dorm or is in the process, you may be searching for a few dorm-decorating ideas to spruce up the usual drab space they will dwell in for the next eight months.

Here are 10 of my favorite ideas I have seen that can be planned ahead and executed in a relatively easy fashion. You should have no problem purchasing the items in other countries if your student is studying abroad.

1. Rearrange the space: Once you step into the dorm room, think about the different ways you are able to rearrange the furniture. Often the room is cleaned and left in a haphazard state. Beds and desks can usually be moved in and around the space as long as the doorway is not blocked.

2. Think vertical: In most cases these rooms are very small. In order to maximize the space for efficient movement in and around it may be a good idea to purchase some wall shelving or vertical stacking units that can be placed on the desk for organizing.

3. Don’t over purchase: This is one of the first mistakes most students and parents make when planning to decorate a dorm room. It’s important to just arrive with the basics and then settle in the room a bit before purchasing all the little items you may think you need.

4. Bed risers: These are critical if your dorm bed is only inches from the floor. These risers are placed under the bed legs to raise the bed high enough for storage bins to be placed underneath. Many stores carry these but Bed Bath Beyond carries good ones for $20.

5. Establish a colour theme: Many kids like to go bold with colour because the walls in their dorm room are usually white or beige. Alternatively, an all white or cream theme is nice for a girl’s room. Combine both white and beige accessories to give the room a serene and calm feel.

6. Purchase a rug: I’m not saying an expensive one but one that will warm up the floors on a cold, wet day. Dorm room floors are usually cold and bare and there’s something nice about getting out of bed and putting your feet on a nice rug. Look for inexpensive ones at Ikea and other department stores like Home Depot. Usually a three-by-five or four-by-six foot is perfect.

7. Decorate the bare walls: Photos of your summer holidays, wall decals and posters are all great ways to add colour and interest to the dorm walls. One great idea is to have your favorite summer photos transferred to canvas. A collage of four or five grouped together is a nice way to decorate a bare wall.

8. Ease homesickness: I’ve always liked the idea of photos of family and friends decorating a small space on the desk. This is a great way to ward off any homesickness that may pop up and put a smile on a tired and worn-out student.

9. Poufs: No, not the powder pouf kind, but the soft, round, pillowlike furniture pieces that can double as a side table beside the bed as well as a footstool or coffee table. These lightweight, versatile little pieces are wonderful in dorm rooms for visitors to sit on and just to add a little colour to the room.

10. Foliage: Lastly, if the university or college will permit it, a nice plant is always appreciated. Plants and flowers have a wonderful way of adding life to a small room and making the space feel warm and a little like home. But check with the dorm rules before going out and purchasing an expensive plant. Succulents are a good choice for their ability to hold water for long periods of time. Watering a plant isn’t always on the student’s top priority list.

Barb Lunter is a freelance writer with a passion for home decor, entertaining and floral design. Email barb@lunter.ca lunter.ca.

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