Dorm Decor Tips from a College Mom

You know you have seen them!! Sleek, impeccably curated dorm rooms that do not look like dorm rooms. Inside you may be cringing, and asking yourself, “How on earth do I do this without a design staff, a team to execute the installation, and next semester’s out of state tuition?” I am here to tell you, that you can do it! AND it can happen in a way that does not have to break the bank.



Having had two daughters at The University of Mississippi, it is safe to say that dorm and apartment decorating should qualify as an NCAA sanctioned sporting event. But it does not have to stress you out! If this is your first rodeo, you are in for some serious eye candy when your student moves into their dorm in August! You will see many beautifully and creatively decorated spaces!! Is it intimidating if a decorator is not on speed dial?! Absolutely, but it does not have to be.


Today I am explaining how to help your college age child create the dorm room of their dreams; a beautiful and functional place for your student to call home for the next school year. It takes a commitment to planning, resourcefulness, and smart shopping. Treat it as an opportunity to stretch some creativity muscles, and work on a fun project with your student.


First, have a design plan. Things will go smoother that way.

· Agree on a budget you are comfortable spending.

· Sit down with your student and break down what they want their space to look like. If they are unsure about the direction, I have a couple of exercises that can help create a vision. Start with a “this or that”. The goal is for them to tell you their favorite clothing styles, color combos that make them feel good, words that best describe them, and all kinds of spaces that they enjoy, etc. (don’t worry, I have a cheat sheet for you) Why all the things that have no direct line to decorating? Because the psychology behind what makes us feel good in a room is similar to how we like to dress.

· Have them create a Pinterest board that reflects the this or that choices. Suggest some online shopping at their favorite boutiques for clothes and décor items. Ask them to pin those choices to a board instead of putting them in the cart. Have them also look at the styling of a space where some of their favorite clothing is photographed. You never know where inspiration will come from.

· If a roommate is part of the mix, ask them to do the same exercise. Where their tastes intersect is a starting point. Often, a single item like a piece of artwork or even a pattern from a scarf or clothing, can become the inspiration for the project.


Second, start doing research.

· Check all the essential lists (of course we have some for you!) to be sure you are not forgetting anything!

· The housing department usually has general information about what you can and cannot bring on their websites. Frequently there are measurements available as well. Some will accommodate different kinds of furniture, others will not. None of them want you to nail holes in the walls. Figure out what works best for your artwork etc.


Third, buy smart.

· Begin searching on Facebook Marketplace for things that fit the look your student(s) are interested in and go from there. Most that are selling do not want to bring things home or pay to store items for you. Be prepared to help solve that problem.

· Buy things that can easily be repurposed for their next place or sold to an incoming student. Twin headboards are a great example of something you might sell and additional storage is a great example of repurposing.

· Choose investment items carefully and for long term use. For instance, a full or even queen size comforter works great on an extra-long lofted twin bed and is easily put to work in an apartment for the remaining time at school.



That’s it!! My three best tips to help you and your student pull together the dorm room of their dreams! When you plan well, take a deep dive into research and shop smart. You will be able to help them create their first home away from home that reflects their personality, makes them feel great and does not break the bank. Who knows? You both might even have fun!!


Now I have not forgotten the tools I promised you earlier. The This or That exercise as well as the dorm essentials can be found soon on our website. Both are really helpful as you begin this process.


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