Back-to-school college dorm decorating tips

Home is where the plush blankets and framed photos are. / Digital Vision
Home is where the plush blankets and framed photos are. Credit: Digital Vision

So you’ve left the nest and your childhood bedroom is poised to become a glorified storage closet for your family’s things. Interior designer Tamara Dunner says the best way to make your tiny new dorm room feel like home is to decorate with care and an eye toward color, pattern and style.

What advice do you give to college students who want to make their new home a little brighter?

I think it’s important when you’re moving or relocating to bring some things from home. Bring your picture frames with photos of all your friends. They don’t have to be standard black picture frames; if you’re more traditional, you can do a whitewashed finish.

Any tips on style conflicts between roommates?

Chances are, you and your roommate the first year might not be best friends, so make your own separate area. My daughter was very into neon colors and the girl next to her was into lace and horses. You have a corner, and you pick one area and that’s your space where you can show your personality. Mostly what happens is that you meet your roommate months before, and a lot of students will compromise. Decorating the rooms is putting your own individual style to it, which is important.

What advice do you give to students setting up for the first time?

It’s your first home away from home; it should be a secure place for you to come after school where you feel comfortable. It’s always hard that first year, so you want to emphasize that you want to personalize your own little cave, your own little place. Bring something that reminds you of home, pictures of family or pets, blankets. Bring your favorite pillow and also scents — candles or body lotions — that remind you of the places that you were.

What about the walls?

You can get posters, but I know they [usually] won’t let you stick nails in the walls in the dorm. You can get light picture frames from Ikea or even take postcards and hang them on the wall. You can get Christmas lights to make it a little bit more funky.

Product Spotlight

Privacy tent
Close quarters can be awkward when you want some alone time in the dorm. With this pop-up tent, you can pretend your roommate’s girlfriend drama doesn’t exist, or just escape the distraction-factor of dorm living. The tent is available as part of Fab.com’s back-to-school sales events throughout August and September.

ED_backtoschoolcool_Privacy_0826

(Back)packing neon heat
You can say more than “I care about preserving my spine” with a backpack. Any range of styles and patterns is in stores right now, but if you really don’t want to be missed — or want a real conversation piece — this textured neon orange backpack from Mad Pax will get people talking. And that means you can do what you really came to school to do: Make friends. Check out a whole array of back-to-school must-haves at Umbra.com.

Orange madpax backpack


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