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Making it look homey!
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 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 fully packed cars to get our daughter’s stuff to school.
Pinterest alone has enough ideas to make your head spin. Etsy also has inexpensive shops to help customize your room and coordinate with a roommate. 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. Freshman housing and Mahoney, Pearson, and Eaton have extra-long twin beds and many stores start selling those sheet sets over the summer just for this purpose, but University Village has full-size 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, 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 UM fleecy throw blankets at the end of their beds, which both dressed up the bed and seemed useful.
Clever and Chic Dorm Room
There are so many clever things to help organize these days. I use bed risers because they give students extra storage space under their bed (perhaps an under-the-bed box or some plastic drawers at the least). University of Miami bed frames are not permitted to be altered in any way, so if your student wishes to have a loft bed it must be pre-ordered ahead of time here and is delivered directly to their room already assembled when your student arrives on campus. At the end of the school year, your student leaves the bed frame in place, as is, in their dorm room. Some kids like to put a mini-fridge in the loft, shelves, and ottomans that provide both storage and extra seating space for when their friends come to hang out. Each dorm room also comes standard with a hutch over their desk. They will need a place for their books, printer (if they bring, but really printing is included with their student fees, not necessary to bring their own) 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.
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.
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. A 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. Bed Bath & Beyond allows you to order and pick up near the University of Miami so you don’t have to transport everything. Lately covering the walls in big tapestries is the rage. My daughter has turned to Etsy to purchase many of her dorm decors 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 is actually a great idea because in some of the older dorm the walls are pretty beat up. 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 available now. Area rugs also warm up a room, particularly since the floors are cold linoleum.
A great place to also shop for dorm decor including easy-to-shop bundles and dorm inspiration is Pottery Barn Teen (PB Teen). Another popular item is string lights. My favorite is the ones that have clips to hold photos too. Girls always seem to need a long mirror. Check out the ones that open to store jewelry and 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 UM, which reminded me that there are different kinds of dorms throughout campus ranging from suite to apartment-style.
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 UM dorm floor plans as well as get an idea of what UM Housing supplies 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 her male friends. 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. Dormify introduced a guy’s collection which is worth checking out. Canes paraphernalia is usually a hit too and Etsy has some great items including a rustic wood wall sign.
My only other advice is to start shopping early, have items on hold to pick up at local Miami stores if possible and bring tools, extension cords, and double-sided tape. For our complete list of the top items they need for college, click here.