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Decorating your Dorm Room with Personal Style

Updated on June 5, 2010

You've moved into your dorm room and are starting to get settled in there. You've adjusted to living with a roommate (and even discovered that it's not that bad). The anxiety you felt about sharing bathrooms and eating in the cafeteria are gone and you've begun to feel like life is normal. It feels okay. But your dorm room still doesn't feel like home. To make the place more than just comfortable and more like a place that you actually want to live in, you need to give it a little bit of personal style.

Here are some tips to get you started on decorating your dorm room:

1. Find out the rules. In many dorm rooms you can't put holes in the walls, can't add more than a certain number of electrical plug-in items or can't have water-based furniture. You should know those things in advance so that you don't start to love your dorm room only to discover that you have to change it again.

2. Bring some special things from home. When you left to move in to your dorm room, you probably bought your clothes and not much else. If you're going home for the holidays, pick up a few items that you left behind. A favorite poster from your old bedroom wall, a stuffed animal that you were afraid would make you like childish on campus or a few pictures from the family album can go a long way towards making the dorm room feel more like home.

3. Get rid of things that you don't need. Conversely, some people take WAY too much with them when they first move into a dorm room. You can't decorate properly if you've got too much clutter in the way. Get rid of items that are just taking up space.

4. Invest in some organizing tools. There aren't too many things that are worth spending much money on when it comes to decorating your dorm room. However, tools to assist you in organizing it are worth the expense. You want to make the maximum use of your space that you possibly can since it's not a big space. Organizing shelves, closet organizers and hideaway storage organizers all help to minimize the clutter and streamline the look of your dorm room.

5. Personalize your space. One of the best things about college is that you get to spend time exploring who you are and who you want to be as an adult. Your identity matters and so you should make your room reflect that identity. Ask yourself what books, music, and images matter most to you right now. Then get just a few items that reflect who you are at this moment. Don't spend too much money because who you are is going to change as you grow during this experience. Posters, photo collages, decorative quotations, magazines images in inexpensive frames and fabrics can all be items that help you express yourself while decorating your dorm room.

6. Create a common area. Now that you've gotten to know your dorm roommate, you know that there are a few things that you have in common. Sure, her side of the room might be heavy metal posters and fishnet fabric while yours is pastels and flowers but there's a common ground in there somewhere and the room should reflect that. A corner with a beanbag chair and a lava lamp may appeal to both of you. Or you might find that her great stereo stand is a good place for your music collection. Talk it over and decorate one part of the room together to bring some transition to your different sides.

7. Let others add to the decorations. Go to the art store and buy a large piece of white poster board. Get a set of crayons, markers or colored pens. Then create an art space in your dorm room. Encourage everyone who visits the dorm room to add to your little art wall. Quotes, kind sayings about you, little drawings and humorous cartoons can all be added at different times. In this way, you're getting help with the decorating of your dorm room and it's changing over time. Plus you get to see how much people in college enjoy the fact that you are there.

8. Save one part of the room for peacefulness. There should be some area of your dorm room that you can go to just to breathe and relax. Obviously it's a small room so it won't be big but it's an important part of decorating your dorm room in a way that gives you something back. It could be a row of candles on a shelf, a very striking image hanging on the back of your door or a small alter of items that are important to you. It should be set up in a way that's decorative and pleasing to the eye but also in a way that lets you turn your back to the room (and the rest of life) and just be with yourself for a moment.

9. Remember that it's all temporary. You're probably going to be moving out of the dorm in just a couple of months. If you buy items that you really like, you can store them and take them to decorate your next dorm room. However, you should remember that these decorations are just a reflection of who you are right now. Be open to changing the way that you decorate the next dorm room to better reflect the emotional place that you're at when you live there.

Your personal space should be a place where you are comfortable. It should be organized in a way that lets you find what you need while still maintaining the aesthetics that suit your style. And it should be a place where the facets of your personal life that you want to share can be on display for both yourself and your guests to enjoy. Decorating your dorm room doesn't have to be expensive or time-consuming but you should spend some energy on making it a creative statement about who you are.


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