Congratulations, you are off to uni!
Prepare yourself for a small dorm room covered in notices to leave the room in the state you found it, no sticking posters on the walls, damaging furniture or making irreversible changes to the room. Prepare yourself for four blank walls, a single bed, a desk and a wardrobe. (Note: furniture may vary but the premise is the same.)
These four, impersonal walls, will be your first home away from home, the place to go back to after a party, to invite your friends over, to spend hours working on essays (yes, it is uni after all), and recover from hangovers. In short: You will spend a fair amount of time there and it should be more than just a room you have for a year.
The dorm rules may seem restricting at first, but a few little tricks will go a long way towards a cool and personalised room.
Every storage is a decoration
You will need a lot of storage – so you may as well make it pretty and themed!
Think of the notebooks, printing paper, shoes, extra clothes, paper bin, pencil holders… they all need a place to live and instead of worrying about where to stash all your things and hide them, put them on display! Many shops – stationery or department stores – have themed boxes and storage and you can pick one design for all your storage or mix two you like.
Alternatively, get moving boxes and other recycled cardboard and upcycle it with wallpaper and other decorations to make your own pretty storage.
Make a washing line – not just for washing
First things first: you need places to hang things without hanging it on the wall. If you have two doors, two hooks, a door and a window, a hook and the headboard of your bed – basically, two anchor points anywhere, make a washing line. You can either hang your clothes when you need to dry them or use it to hang photos and memories, that’s up to you. But whether it is for practical purposes or decoration, that line or wire will come in handy.
On a side note: think about where you are going to dry your underwear. It is worth investing in a small clothes dryer which hooks onto your heating. It’s small and can be put away quickly when you don’t want your underwear on display.
Carefully pick your pillows and throws
Pillows can work magic in your room! First of all, they are versatile: They can be thrown on the ground for extra seating, you can prop yourself up on your bed when you have a lot of reading and they can be arranged to add colour or a theme.
A throw will do the same: keep you warm when you need it, add colour and hide an unmade bed if you were too tired in the morning.
So choose them carefully. You can choose colours and pattern (make sure they match the sheets you are bringing to uni) or find themed ones: animals, Harry Potter, Disney – there are plenty to choose from. And if you can’t find what you like, find sew or iron on decorations.
Use washi tape
It was really cool for a while, then it became overused. Likelihood is, you still have some at home and it’s worth taking it with you to uni.
While you can’t stick anything on the walls (though it’s worth trying in a hidden corner somewhere to see if it leaves a mark on the wall) you can decorate your door, the edges of your desk, make a pattern on the side or your bed or make frames on your wardrobe or chest of drawers.
And the good thing is, you can change it when you want something new. It is easy to remove and you can just choose a new pattern every once in a while.
Popular tip for uni: You can also stick some in the window so everyone knows which one is yours!
Get small pieces of furniture of your own
Take a look at your room and decide when you feel you need to add. Don’t bring furniture before you know how much space you have, but the likelihood is you can add a little bedside table or coffee table (a metal paper bin turned upside down will do), a small chair or seat or a small chest of drawers. Anything you bring yourself and that is yours you can alter and decorate without worrying about campus accommodation complaining, so a couple of your own things can help you feel more at home.
You don’t need to invest much: Even a ladder can make a book shelf or be used to hang a flower pot or two to add some colour.
Invest in 3M hooks for EVERYTHING
On a student budget, it will feel expensive, but if you are going to hang anything on your walls, use 3M hooks (available in most supermarkets). They are the only ones I have tried which you can remove without a mark and it works every time.
Since they are expensive though, think about which ones you will need. There are plastic hooks of different sizes to hang clothes and other items, there are poster strips which will hold a big wall paper or poster – even cinema display size, and there are strong (and expensive) velcro strips to hold frames and similar heavy items.
Amazon have a special offer on 6 3M hooks for £6 at the moment!
Make a canopy bed
Once you have bought your 3M hooks, nothing is impossible – not even a canopy bed.
Simply hang four hooks on the ceiling above the four corners of your bed and either hang the drapes from there or tie a thin, invisible line (a white fishing line is ideal) from one hook to another and use it like a curtain rod.
If that’s one step too far for you, think about at least closing one side of the bed off to make a divider in your room with a sheet, fabric you like, or even a colourful sarong. Not seeing your desk and the looming deadlines will help you get better sleep – out of sight out of mind.
You can have pictures!
Stick pictures, posters and decorations everywhere – except walls. If you don’t want to risk damaging the walls (very conscientious of you) or if you know someone comes to check during term time, find other surfaces to hang your favourite pictures, posters and memories.
The sides and doors of your wardrobe can be covered in photos, as can your door. You can use the pinboard (probably intended for deadline reminders) for photos or a metal board with magnets. You can also get creative: take string and hang your photos on it, then all you need is a place to hang the string from: down from the ceiling, around the lampshade, on the door handle or window!
Decorate with jewellery
You need to fit a lot into your dorm room so try and use what you are bringing anyway as decoration.
Put your jewellery on display by using a jewellery tree or hang it from the wire you put up – it keeps them in place and tidy and you have a decoration you already know you like. It’ll look great in the windowsill!
Why not make a cardboard decoration yourself to hold your earrings? Buy – or make with a bit of papermache or plaster – one of those cool hand and forearm decorations to hold your rings and bracelets. It looks elegant and cool and when you get bored of one colour, you can spray paint it in another.
Make it look tidy
To look homey, it needs to be (at least a little) neat and tidy, which isn’t always easy when you have limited space. But there are a few things you can do: Use drawer dividers to maximise space (and learn to fold your clothes efficiently) and make the most of a wardrobe by adding a shelf or shoe rack or even by filling shoe boxes with the clothes you don’t need every day.
Make sure you use the space under your bed well: It’s great for shoes, out of season clothes, and anything else you don’t need regularly.
Hang a hook (or more) over your door to hang your bag, coat and cardigan as soon as you come home and make sure you have a system for your wires: phone, laptop, kindle… each has at least a wire and wires look messy. Get an extension lead and plug your devices in where you want – ideally hidden behind the desk or bed or even bedside table. Alternatively, get small hooks to hold the wire in place against the wall or your desk, or hide them in a beautifully decorated empty kitchen roll.
We hope these tips help!
With these tips you can create a home from home in your dormitory. It’ll also give you a taste of home decor and interior design for your future home.
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