When you go away to college there are a multitude of expenses beyond the predictable tuition, room and board. Then you find yourself in a box of a room, wedged in with a roommate or two, and little money left over to personalize your space.
If you want to make your living quarters attractive, without incurring much expense, you will need to be creative with decorating. Keep a few simple pointers in mind, and you can create an environment that will be attractive and comfortable.
Talk Ahead Of Time
1. Talk to your roommate ahead of time. Maybe there will be something that your roommate wants to bring that will help with decoration, and you can focus on something else.
A green plant is inexpensive and goes a long way to soften an interior – but maybe only one of you needs to bring one. You might also discuss bedspreads and see if you can find complementary colors and designs.
2. Most college dorm rooms allow some form wall art – posters or wall hangings, perhaps. Think in terms of something that you will be happy living with for a long time such as a favorite painting or image.
3. Once you’ve got the basics in terms of what goes over the bed and on the walls, consider attractive accent colors in the form of pillows.
Space is usually at a premium, but pillows that work well with other room furnishings will give double comfort.
4. You may not know what the furniture is like until you actually arrive on campus, but the odds are good that you will have some space on top of a dresser, desk or bookcase.
Think in terms of accessories that add color but also help to organize. It won’t take long before all the flat spaces are covered with clutter – books, pens, computer equipment, clothes and everything else.
Think of ways to find homes for lots of these items — cubes, attractive boxes, baskets or other things that can help to make the room look neat and organized.
5. Many dorm rooms come with some storage space under the beds so, once again, baskets or attractive boxes can be a help, even if you seldom see them.
A Focal Point
6. A decorating focal point, regardless of whether you have linoleum, tile, wood, or wall-to-wall carpeting, can be an area rug. Depending on the size of the room and the preferences of your roommates, this might be a good thing to discuss together before you spend any money.
7. You may not be able to put up any curtains or draperies, but for a few dollars you can add some sparkle to your room in the form of a prism or stained glass ornament that hangs in the window.
8.Finally, lighting can be one of the things that pulls all your accessories together. You need good lighting for your study area, but you also need attractive, flattering lighting to make your room your home away from home.
Perhaps you will want to look at a desk lamp, something for your dresser and another light over your bed. Whatever your choices might be, you don’t have to spend a lot of money. The challenge is to find things that work well for a reasonable amount.
Remember to communicate with your roommates, scout out second hand or thrift stores for high quality accessories, keep in mind important needs like storage and good lighting, and you can create a room that you will be happy to live in.
The author, Ms. Frances Chamberlain, is a media consultant who teaches at a small New England college.