Over the past week, almost certainly you or someone you know moved into a dorm room. There are a lot of stigmas surrounding dorms, but honestly, they can be a really important part of the whole post-secondary education experience. Some of the best friends you’ll leave university or college with will be ones you made in dorms.
There are the frosh week activities, the floor movie nights, the parties and get-togethers—when you’re in a dorm, everyone around you is in the same boat in terms of classes, late-night library study sessions, frantic paper-writing into the wee hours of the morning; it’s a whole new adventure, and the people around you are embarking on it too… Beyond that, the dorm is home for the school year ahead.
Yes, many of them may seem a little wanting in terms of comfort and style. Usually, you’ve got four very blank walls, a small, reasonably comfortable bed, a desk, a shelf, a strangely firm chair, and hopefully a window. Know what this is? The perfect backdrop for you to temporarily transform the space into your own.
Because when you move out next spring, there’s an inspection and you’ll be held accountable for any damage, you want to personalize the space in a way that isn’t going to leave any lasting remnants on the room itself. Painting is out (unless your RA okays it and you agree to paint it out again before your move-out date; but honestly, you’re going to be so busy in the next couple of weeks that painting your walls will not even be on your radar).
So what to do with these four stark walls that are making you think of a prison cell? The options are surprisingly endless!
First you have art—framed prints, dry-mounted prints, tin art, and tradition dictates that you buy and hang at least one poster from the annual fall poster sale your campus will hold (seriously—you need a poster. It’s like a rite of passage).
Avoid using nails as much as possible (you’ll need to fill those before your final inspection); instead, pick up some easy-stick wall hooks. They’re specifically made for hanging things without damaging walls, and they’re easy to take down when the time comes.
I also recommend purchasing a few of the larger temporary wall hooks—one for your robe (which you’ll want for the daily march through the halls to the shared showers), one for your towel (it needs to hang up to dry), and one for your coat on those rainy and snowy days when it’s damp by the time you land in your dorm.
Another fresh way to decorate your dorm walls is with the awesome new selection of products available for temporary wall decals. Now offered in tons of different designs, materials, and themes, you can choose anything from mirrors to 3D art to really cool designs (anything from Paris to owls to flowers to sports to cars to re-writable calendars to actual borders and murals).
These products are made to decorate walls without damaging the paint. They’re repositionable, self-adhering, and literally all you do is peel them off their backers and stick them where you want them.
They’re a fantastic, easy way to up the style ante in your dorm space (and believe me, you’ll want to. You’ll have people popping in and out of there all year—be the room all your floor-mates love visiting because it’s so stylish and comfortable. It’s a good feeling).
Some more ways to make that dorm your own—attractive, comfortable bedding. The bed is one of the more dominant features in the space, so have cool bedding, and don’t be afraid to add some funky touches to the bed, like decorative (yet comfy) pillows, a quilt, that teddy bear you’ve had since you were three (hey, be proud of who you are!).
Other little touches worth adding are a chic garbage can, a plant, and little personal items that will make you feel comfortable and happy.
Keeping your dorm room clean is an easy task, and one I highly recommend. A quick dusting once a week and a wipe over of the floor with a wet cloth or mop is definitely in your best interest. Wash any dishes you have as soon as possible—it’s a way less daunting task when they don’t build up.
As long as you stay on top of your room upkeep, it will never take you much time, but seriously believe me when I say a clean, tidy dorm room will do wonders for your stress levels, which will be high enough thanks to things like exams and piles of papers.
A final investment I cannot stress enough for you in your new dorm—shower shoes. Seriously. I won't get into the details on this as they still haunt my nightmares, but do not go barefoot in those showers, folks.
The year ahead is going to be full of wonderful and challenging experiences. Every single one of us needs a place to go to at the end of the day that makes us feel peaceful, comfortable, and able to work through whatever new experiences have been thrown at us.
Make your dorm room your little corner of the world, and it will help you through your school year. Have a wonderful semester and enjoy the experience for what it is. And seriously trust me on the shower shoes.
Originally Published by The Chronicle Herald - September 4, 2014
Alexandra Kelter is a social media specialist with Central Home Improvements. Her column covers many aspects of home improvement, both indoor and outdoor, and will combine trending styles with practical applications all within realistic budgets. Kelter is also passionate about fashion, travel, living by the ocean and her bulldog.