College starts next month, whether you’re ready for the big move or not. Getting all the stuff your student needs can be an expensive process, especially since you want them to feel comfortable in their new space. Managing a reasonable budget means knowing where to splurge and where to save.
Start with cozy bedding.
Your student’s bed will likely be the centerpiece of their 12 x 19’ dorm room. For that reason, stylish bedding makes a huge impact without breaking the budget. Personalize the space with a bright, fluffy comforter and some fun pillows. While you can skip the silk sheets, a little individuality is always welcome. Some students even coordinate colors with their roommate to create a matching aesthetic.
Keep in mind, most dorm beds are 5 inches longer than a standard twin, so you’ll need XL twin sheets. If your student is planning to loft their bed, pick up an extra fitted sheet for the underside if their bed. When you get there, you’ll understand why.
Don’t expect high quality, comfortable mattresses in the dorms, to combat this consider investing in a mattress topper. A good night’s sleep in college is critical for retaining information and feeling prepared for those early morning classes.
Decorate the walls.
Since many universities have rules about what to hang and how to hang it, the walls of a dorm room are often the trickiest. You may have to avoid nails or screws, which means nothing heavy. However, it’s still possible to add a little luxury without drilling into the walls. You can hang lighter things like pictures and posters with Command Strips that won’t damage the walls. Photos can be hung in fun patterns or shapes to create easy, affordable art.
Whiteboards also look good and help students keep track of lists or calendars. Also, cork boards are great to pin coupons, class schedules and fun quotes. If your student wants to decorate an entire wall, an interesting tapestry is a great way to go. This covers a lot of space, while brightening the room. Plus, there are endless options to fit your student’s taste.
Washi tape makes anything more fun.
If you haven’t heard of washi tape, welcome to your student’s new obsession. Washi tape is inexpensive and comes in any color or pattern you can think of, and it doesn’t tear off paint or leave marks. It’s a great way to spruce up a dorm room, especially if the university has strict regulations. You can find washi tape at Walmart, Target or any craft store.
Washi tape can be used to dress up almost anything. Decorate a door with a cool pattern or a fun word, like “hello” or “ciao”. Or, use it for wall decor – mock picture frames or a fun geometric design. It can also be used to decorate bookshelves, appliances, class supplies or whatever else you can think of. With a little creativity, the possibilities are endless.
Add some greenery.
Consider purchasing a plant for your student, if they’re up for taking care of it. Succulents are a good choice because they’re easy to keep alive: just put them in a sunny window and water them every week or two. Not only are succulents aesthetically pleasing, they can help freshen the air in that stuffy dorm room. Another cool benefit of succulents? They have been shown to improve concentration and productivity by up to 15%, two areas where college students can use all the help they can get! Certain plants can also help to heal a clumsy college kid. For instance, the gel of an aloe vera plant alleviates sunburns and helps with cuts and bruises. Indoor plants are an easy way to spruce up a dorm room and make it feel a little more luxurious.
Save on big ticket items.
Know a student who’s a recent college grad? They may be ready to pass on things like their mini-fridge, microwave, toaster and other reusable items. Otherwise, second-hand shops are a great place to save money, but you’ll want to go now before the back-to-school rush. Don’t forget to coordinate with your student’s roommate to avoid doubling up.
Your students should also bring what they can from home. Lamps, decorations and storage bins can spruce up any dorm room, while saving you money. Just make sure not to bring anything they’ll need when they come home to visit!
Add the finishing touches.
There’s an infinite amount of things that can be used for decoration. Don’t forget the basics like curtains, a lamp and an area rug. Most dorm rooms have hard, cold floors that don’t feel great on the feet when your student is getting out of bed in the morning, so a soft rug with a fun design can help make a dorm room feel homey. Additionally, blackout curtains are an unexpected indulgence on a well-lit campus and come in a variety of colors and patterns. Twinkle lights can also help make the room feel cozy – just turn your old Christmas lights into a fun dorm decoration, or buy some cheap dorm lights online.
If your student is a coffee drinker, you’ll get parent of the year for supplying a coffee machine. Whether it’s a Keurig or a traditional coffee maker, consider how much will get consumed each day to avoid waste. While it’s an added expense upfront, having a coffee maker in their dorm saves your student from purchasing a $4 coffee from campus every time they need a pick-me-up.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when decorating a new space, especially when it’s so small. Start by focusing on the basics, and be sure to grab things from home. If you’re shopping online, do it ahead of time to ensure that everything is ready for move-in day. Remember there are a lot of ways to liven up a bland dorm room and get that luxury you’re looking for without spending a ton of money. Encourage your student to find their own style, and don’t be afraid to get creative!