Decorating your room
Deciding what you need
Having roommates means you will be limited to just a few square feet of personal space. At a minimum, plan to bring your clothing, desk materials, linens, toiletries, decorations, and personal small items. Depending on your situation and campus, bring your computer and bicycle as well. Hold off on the bigger items, though, until you know more about your living arrangements.
Furniture, kitchen items, and storage
For help in deciding what to bring, do this:
- Click the “campus life” or "living arrangements" links on your university’s Web site to learn more about what you can expect to find in your dormitory room. Undergraduate schools generally don't expect you to enter the parking lot with a moving van full of furniture, so find out if you should leave your desk, dresser, and chairs at home. Chances are, you can.
- If you feel kitchen appliances are a must, call or go online to find out if your school provides microwave ovens or small refrigerators in dorm rooms. Some colleges do. Accommodations like these can save you $150 to $300, not to mention the hassle of moving these items.
Negotiating with roommates
Usually, colleges send you contact information for your designated roommates over the summer. If so, contact them to discuss these two additional moving-in issues:
- Televisions and small stereos: Ask your roommate about these items. You needn't bring two or more of each. In fact, you may agree you can get along without them.
- Storage needs: Find out if your roommate is willing to share the cost for a storage rental in the event that overcrowding becomes an issue. You can probably rent a sufficient amount of space for under $50 per month.
Look at the empty wall space in your residence hall room. At least part of it is yours to decorate. To spice up the area, reuse items you already own or try some of the techniques listed here. There's nothing wrong with moving the items you have on your bedroom walls at home into your dormitory room. That way you won't have to spend any money-and transferring your home decor to the dorm room is a great way to convey your individuality.
Decorating on a budget
If you're set on some new colors and frills in your room, the following approach can save you money:
- Buy your books and school supplies first.
- Think of ways to decorate your room with academic posters or charts required for classes. These may include quick-reference items such as the Table of Elements that you had buy for a chemistry course.
- For additional decorations, visit consignment art shops, secondhand stores, poster outlets, discount retailers, and online classifieds.
- Hang art class assignments (yours or your friends') or tapestries on the wall.
- Avoid expensive custom framing shops. Secondhand stores offer used picture and poster frames at a fraction of the regular prices.
Keep in mind that room walls are usually brick, so you're not going to be pounding nails into them to hang framed artwork. Often, you're confined to a hanging strip around the top of the wall-or just tape. Plan accordingly.
Accenting a room can motivate you to spend more casually than you normally would, so try to keep your decoration expenditure under a preset amount-perhaps $50 to $75. You want to express yourself, but you don't want to have to worry about moving and storing items at the end of the school year, or worry about expensive items getting stolen or broken.