Ways to turn a dorm room into a home

  • By Debbie Arrington McClatchy Newspapers
  • Tuesday, September 11, 2012 6:40pm
  • Life

It may be small (and shared). But for at least one academic year, for thousands of college students, it’s home.

Over generations, the dorm room hasn’t gotten bigger. But the amount of must-have stuff — including technology — that needs to squeeze into that space has blown up in size.

The challenge is to make that Spartan room feel like home.

Each college has its own variations of dorm do’s and don’ts with some constants.

No nails in the walls.

No painting.

No pets.

But that leaves plenty of decorating options.

Major companies have taken notice, fulfilling dorm needs as part of their teen marketing.

Dorm Room 101

Read the rules. Every college has its own handbook for student residents. Get a copy (most schools have it online) before you buy.

Start with the bed. Most dorms provide extra-long twins. That means you’ll need XL twin sheets, preferably two sets (they’ll last longer).

Other standard twin bedding (such as blankets, quilts and duvets) will fit the XL beds.

You’re not the first one to use that mattress, said Ross Manning, senior marketing officer of Tuesday Morning. Get a good mattress pad.

That bed will get double duty as a couch. Get pillows that can be used as backrests. An oversized body pillow is a good option.

When shopping for linens, get two sets of towels. Label or monogram linens to avoid roommate confusion later.

Make the most of your space, Manning said. That includes under the bed. It’s perfect for storage.

Organize from the beginning, said Nancy Guettier, vice president of visual merchandizing for Pottery Barn Kids and PBteen. By giving everything its own place, you get more space.

Make room for school supplies and a place to study with a good task light.

Think vertically. Claim the space on the walls. Use gel stick-ups for hanging items on walls. Poster putty or sticky hooks are other no-nails options.

Use hanging storage in the closet. Get stuff off the floor and the room will seem larger.

Necessities: You’ll need a good power strip. Outlets are limited.

Your gadgets will need a charging dock, too.

The item most students forget when they move into the dorms? Coat hangers.

Other must-have basics: Laundry basket, detergent, shower caddy and shower shoes.

A lot of dorm rooms have mini refrigerators, but a small microwave oven is handy.

No items with heat coils are allowed.

Homesick cures: Bring something that reminds you of home, such as a family photo.

Don’t bring everything. Think of your dorm space as the size of a small bathroom. Leave the futon at home.

Don’t try to stock up supplies for an entire academic year. You won’t have enough room.


www.dormco.com: This online retailer features “move-in” packages of linens and sturdy metal trunks in school colors.

Ustyler: An online tool, offered by Target, allows users to put together a whole room while mixing colors and fabrics. Find it at http://college.target.com/ustyler.

www.dormdelicious.com: Students help students at this site, packed with real-life advice.

PBteen: Website offers PBdorm line and design tools at www.pbdorm.com.

Bed, Bath and Beyond: Budget-minded section for college students at www.bedbathandbeyond.com. Click on “Shop College.”

Ikea: www.ikea.com features a “Back to College.”

Tuesday Morning: www.tuesdaymorning.com has quality linens and bedding at a bargain prices, plus storage and shower options.

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