Moving into a dorm is one of college life’s most exciting milestones, possibly the first time living away from the comfy confines of home.
But the thrill can wane when the door opens. Most dorm rooms are pretty basic, with plain furniture and institutional floors and walls. So how do you take a room from spartan to snazzy when most of the budget is going to meal plans and books?
“No matter how small and cramped your dorm room may be, you can still find cute ways to store all your stuff — without spending a ton on organizers and decor,” say Seventeen magazine editor Kristin Koch.
She and stylist Sarah Newell suggest creating a floating shelf out of a magazine file box and turning clear plastic paint cans into storage for hair accessories or school supplies.
Repurposing and rethinking are the keys to good hacks.
Tikva Morrow is editor in chief at Hometalk.com, a New York-based do-it-yourself home and garden website. She says it’s tempting to load up on kitschy decor, but that’s a budget sucker. Decorative tape and fabric can be used to jazz up shelving and built-ins.
“DIY some pretty embellishments of your own instead,” she suggests. “Bring along a few rolls of washi tape for wall decor and picture displays, and make a few large prints for walls.”
Look online for instructions on how to make no-sew or simple-sew pillows with old T-shirts or sweaters.
“Cute throw pillows are easy to make, and even a headboard can be DIY-ed using a large piece of cardboard, some fabric and a hot glue gun,” Morrow says.
Shower stall caddies can be hung on a door or wall to corral loose items, says Gurl.com’s Jessica Booth. And organization blogger Laura Wittman of Alberta, Canada, says shower-curtain rings can turn ordinary hangers into scarf and belt organizers. Or use the rings to hang fabric or curtains over existing dorm blinds, personalizing your windows.
Dorm floors are pretty institutional, but students don’t want to spend on nice rugs that will get lots of wear and tear. On Hometalk.com, Brooke Bock of Tyrone, Pa., shares how she made a shaggy throw rug using a piece of non-slip rug matting and recycled sheet scraps. On the same site, Sarah Ramberg of Simpsonville, S.C., contributed the idea of turning a silverware tray into a jewelry holder using paint, stencils and cup hooks.
A silverware tray tucked into a drawer makes good hideaway storage for keys, ID cards, sunglasses and electronics.
Design duo Zest It Up in Atascadero, Calif., suggests creating an artsy, no-maintenance indoor garden by painting smooth rocks and planting them as faux cacti in a cool pot.
In many dorms, beds are on lofts over desks or storage areas, says Target stylist (and recent UCLA graduate) Tiffany Ma. She recommends using Target’s Room Essentials Micro Fiber Sheets with side pockets: “It’s like having your own floating nightstand to hold your phone, tablet, book or glasses. You can get your exercise walking to class, instead of climbing up and down from your bunk.”
The retailer’s also got an over-the-door, full-length mirror with built-in organizer.
“There’s nothing more boring than the typical cinder-block dorm-room wall — they’re almost impossible to nail or screw into, plus you don’t want to get in trouble for marking them up,” Ma says.
Consider a colorful tapestry or a mural photo-printed with a “view”: a city at night, a scene from some faraway land, a serene nature-scape. Attach the cloth with non-marking adhesive strips.
When you’re doing the school-supply run, grab some extra sticky notepads. Pinterest is full of ideas for wall art made with the sticky notes. And instructions for crafting decorative flowers are at www.post-it.com.
Or create a framed corkboard or mirror using rolled-up magazine pages and Mod Podge. Using a paper punch, turn metallic or paper cupcake holders into frilly foils for string lights; Los Angeles designer Emma Jeffery shows you how at www.fiskars.com