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Is It Home Yet?
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 the 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.
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 these sheet sets over the summer just for this purpose. The bed-in-a-bag can be a great choice as it provides many pieces at once – and they all match. 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. My son wasn’t particularly interested in the throw pillow, but he liked the UF blanket someone gave him for graduation, which both dressed up his bed and was useful.
There are so many clever things to help organize these days. Consider buying 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). Some kids like to put a mini-fridge under there too. Check to see if their dorm provides one. 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 desks, but if not they can be bought easily too. They will need a place for their books, a printer, a desk lamp, or even a microwave or coffee maker. 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 trips to Bed, Bath and Beyond, Target and Walmart. (Did I mention that you should start collecting those coupons now?) Together they may decide on specific colors or a theme. 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. They simplify the decor shopping experience by creating exclusive products for the style-obsessed, to make decorating stress-free and fun. Another great place to shop for dorm decor including easy-to-shop bundles and dorm inspiration is Pottery Barn Teen (PB Teen).
My daughter has turned to Etsy to purchase many of her dorm decor. 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. In some of the older dorms, there are cinder block walls. This also makes it difficult to hang things, 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 all cold tile.
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 put them on risers. 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. UF offers virtual tours of their on-campus dorms; simply click on each dorm area and you can find a video of the residence hall here. There are different kinds of dorms throughout campus ranging from suite to corridor to apartment-style. Some dorms can fit desks in the bedrooms; others have to keep them in the common area of their suite. 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 UF Housing supplies.
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. Dormify introduced a guy’s collection which is worth checking out. 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. Gator paraphernalia is usually a hit too and Etsy has some great items.
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 Gainesville stores if possible and bring tools and double-sided tape.
For our complete list of the top items they need for college, click here.
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