Dorm Room Design 101.
There are enough things to stress out about when going away to college, don’t let the dorm room experience be one of them.
Dorm Room Design is easy if you ignore the siren call of advertisers hawking dorm room “necessities” that are anything but. Successful dorm dwellers know that less is more when it comes to your belongings.
I attempted to bring my entire room from home with me when I went away to college. I thought my stuff would provide security, but it turned out to be too much security. I quickly discovered that going away to college is not about who you were in high school. It is not about your past. College is about the person you are becoming. What possessions you do or don’t have within those 4 walls will pale in comparison to the new people, skills, ideas and possibilities experienced outside of the dorm. Keeping this in mind, recognize that your material needs are actually quite simple.
Before you pack anything, research what is already provided. Check out the college’s housing website or Facebook for information. If you do not already know your roommate, reach out to your assigned roommate to discuss coordinating your belongings. For instance, maybe she brings the mini-fridge and printer; you bring the microwave and TV. Avoiding any overlap will pay dividends in maximizing space. Also, brainstorm together on creative ideas for décor, furniture arrangement and storage.
Once these details are worked out, focus on the necessities. As you contemplate necessities, proceed with caution. It takes a lot of creativity to live well in a small space. The reality is that your side of the room may only be 100 square feet. If you minimize what you bring in, it will be easier to organize and maintain as well as find your keys, flash drive, or your left shoe when you need them. Look for things that multi-task like all-in-one bed risers with a phone charger and extra outlet or a lamp that serves as an I pad charger and stereo.
Be realistic when packing clothes. Do you really need to bring every piece of clothing you own? Won’t you buy new clothes? Can you change out your wardrobe when you go home during a break? When it comes to necessities, be ruthless. You need bedding, towels, toiletries, school supplies, and laundry items, but you don’t need a years’ worth. Designate spaces within your dorm room for different activities like a place to study, sleep or relax. Keep all necessary items for that space within reach.
Anything that gets your belongings off the floor is worth its weight in gold. Not only will your room feel larger, but it will be much more functional. Think vertical. Use your walls to organize books, accessories, and electronics. Explore the numerous hanging options for clothes, toiletries, laundry bags, and shoes. Also consider investing in command strips (non-permanent hangers), wall shelving, and storage containers. Sometimes it is best to wait and see what you will actually need once you settle in.
As you prepare to start this new chapter in your life, remember not to get too lost in details of what to bring and what not to bring. Just know that you will change, you will grow, and that your dorm room is just your launching pad for the unimaginable experiences that await you.
*This article was originally featured in the August/September 2013 issue of Macon Magazine.