Just Like Home
You may be surprised at how one can transition a mass-produced, industrial-looking dorm room into a warm and inviting room/suite. And there is plenty of help out there to spur ideas and help you organize. Organization is a primary concern, because after all if your kids are anything like mine, they will take enough stuff from home to settle them in as though there are no laundry facilities or stores in the vicinity. It took us two packed cars to get our daughter’s stuff up to school. The more well-known retailers will carry just about everything you need for a dorm room – we like Bed Bath & Beyond, Target and Walmart.
Pinterest alone has enough ideas to make your head spin. Of course, decorating for a girl’s room is drastically different from a boy, but both will need a little extra organization. Either way, check the size bed their dorm will provide. They are usually those extra-long twin beds and many stores start selling those sheet sets over the summer just for this purpose, but the Towers have full-size beds and Northview residents will have queen size (full xl) beds. Consider purchasing a full/queen comforter even for a single bed at first. It will hang over (and cover the storage under the bed), but it will keep you from having to buy a new, larger comforter the following year should your student move into an apartment.
A bed-in-a-bag can be a great choice as it provides many pieces at once – and they all match. I even came across one at Target that came with towels and a laundry bag too. In addition, though, we highly recommend a mattress encasement. It protects from bugs, allergies and who knows what else. Some kids appreciate a mattress topper of some sort; remember this is where they will be living (and sleeping) for months at a time. A fun throw pillow or two is always fun. The boys I chatted with weren’t particularly interested in the throw pillows, but a few had UCF fleecy throw blankets at the end of their beds, which both dressed up the bed and seemed useful.
Clever and Chic
There are so many clever things to help organize these days. I was going to recommend bed risers as they can give students extra storage space under their bed (perhaps an under-the-bed box or some plastic drawers at the least), but it is listed on the UCF Housing site under items not to bring. There are ways to raise the beds though, which will be explained when you see them. Recently we came across Dorm Room Bed Skirt Panels which are long and can cover all the junk that ends up getting stored below the bed. Some kids like to put a mini-fridge under there too. There are fun ottomans that provide both storage and extra seating space for when their friends come to hang out. Check to see if the dorm provides a hutch over their desk, but if not they can be bought easily too. They will need a place for their books, printer (if they bring, but really, there are so many places to print and ink is so expensive, it may not be worth it), a desk lamp, or even microwave or coffee maker (unless they are living in apartment style and the kitchen items can go in the kitchen). There are clever little shelves that attach to the side of the bed that are rather useful to hold their phone, glasses, drinks, etc.
Most girls really like to jazz it up and why not? If possible suggest they check with their roommate before you begin your multiple shopping trips Together they may decide on specific colors or a theme. My daughter has turned to Etsy to purchase many of her dorm decor from tapestries to wall art, from decorative pillows to a hanging light photo display. Etsy is a great place to shop as many items are more reasonably priced than the national retailers and they have unique items. Simply search dorm decor and start your search. It can be difficult to hang things because they will have to sign something after the move-in inspection, but no worries; because Command hooks have you covered. They have many pretty, as well as functional, things. Candles are not allowed in the dorms, but there are many great led candles out there now. Area rugs also warm up a room, particularly since the floors are either cold linoleum or drab carpet.
Another popular item is string lights. My favorite is the ones that have clips to hold photos too. It is even possible to buy headboards, which look pretty, but before you purchase this, be sure your daughter and her roommate don’t intend to bunk the beds or raise them up. Girls always seem to need a long mirror. Check out the ones that open to store jewelry and/or accessories. There are YouTube videos for those of you that are feeling creative. My daughter is pretty crafty, so this one gave us some good inspiration. I even found this one that is specific to UCF, which reminded me that there are different kinds of dorms throughout campus ranging from suite to apartment style. Another great place to get ideas (and shop) is Dormify, a one-stop-shop for small space decorating and inspiration designed for the fashion-minded. Our interns really like At Home, a store on Colonial, near Walmart. They simplify the decor shopping experience by creating exclusive products for the style-obsessed, to make decorating stress-free and fun.
If they know their roommate’s name, a custom dorm room sign is a great way to make them feel at home.
When you find out which dorm your student will be living in you can check out the floorplans as well as get an idea of what UCF Housing supplies right here.
I haven’t forgotten our sons; there just isn’t as much to say. It probably took us three times the amount of time to set up our daughter’s room compared to our son. Basically, they will need the same essentials, but as far as décor goes, most boys are happy with a poster or two and possibly a flag or banner. Knight paraphernalia is usually a hit too and Etsy has some great items including a man cave distressed sign
My only other advice is to start shopping early, remember hooks to hang the shower curtain (and be sure at least one person brings one) have items on hold to pick up at local Orlando stores if possible and bring tools and double-sided tape.
For our complete list of the top items they need for college, click here.