May-June 2011 | Home & Garden

Web Exclusive: Dorm Days

Tips for decorating a college dorm room.

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A college dorm room is a home away from home. Here, college students who attended high school in the Bethesda area provide some tips on ways to decorate, organize and buy for a college dorm.

Laura Valenstein

Freshman, Vanderbilt University

Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, 2010 Graduate

Laura’s tips:

1. The best places to buy college items are at Bed Bath & Beyond, the Container Store, Target and Ikea. Bed Bath & Beyond had a list of basic essentials, suggesting a shower caddy, towels and mattress pads. At the Container Store, buy bins for closet organization and for storage under the bed.

2. For decoration, take a ton of pictures and develop them at CVS for cheap.

3. Make a huge collage of pictures for the wall.

4. Hang posters. They make the room more homely.

5. Talk to your roommate about what to bring for the room. (Laura and her roommate planned to bring coordinating sheets and comforters. Laura brought the rug and her roommate brought the television, also coordinating other shared items.)

6. Christmas lights are appropriate for all times of the year.

Edalaine Tangkeko

Freshman, Marymount University

Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, 2010 Graduate

Edalaine’s tips:

1. Move the beds into an L-shape, so they’re perpendicular. It makes for more open space.

2. Bookshelves are necessary. They are a good way to keep schoolwork and books organized.

3. Shop smart. See which stores give the best bargains. For example, last year, Bed Bath & Beyond offered an item called Dorm in a Bag. It offered a comforter, bed sheets, hamper and towels (the basic essentials).

4. Stock up on items, especially if you are going far from home. Let your parents pay for your toiletries while they still can.

5. Buy bins to organize all your items, especially clothes. There is limited space to put clothes. (Edalaine and her roommate have bins that they share for cleaning supplies and food.)

Noah Joseph

Junior, Union College

Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, 2008 Graduate

Noah’s tips:

1. Bring comfy bedding with multiple mattress pads. The beds at college are uncomfortable without the extra support.

2. Buy college items at Target—great prices!

3. Posters make the room much more decorative.

4. Must-have buy: television.

5. Take home winter clothes in the spring and bring winter clothes in the winter to save space in the closet.

Sofie Ganev

Sophomore, James Madison University

Magruder High School, 2009 Graduate

Sofie’s tips:

1. Collect and keep ALL Bed Bath & Beyond 20-percent-off coupons for summer school shopping.

2. Get posters and pictures to hang.

3. Buy lots of extra printer paper and ink cartridges.

4. Buy containers for cleaning supplies and storage. When storing clothes in transition for seasons, you can pack the container and take home.

5. Buy a nice rug. No one wants to stare at or walk on the dirty floor.

6. Bunking beds can conserve space, but may be a hassle for the person on the top bunk.

7. Bring a bulletin board to go on the wall so friends can post their favorite pictures, and so you can post a calendar, important reminders, announcements and friends’ class schedules.

Bianca Small and Ashley Ibrahim

Sophomores, Towson University

Magruder High School, 2009 Graduates

Bianca and Ashley’s tips:

1. Make sure to have microwave-safe dishes because there is a lot of microwave cooking in college.

2. If you live in an older building, buy an air purifier so you won’t breathe in dust 24/7.

3. Stock up on healthy snacks, such as fruits, whole-wheat crackers and bread in your room. Eating too much junk food will leave you tired and hungrier than you were to begin with (and you’ll end up gaining the Freshman 15!).

4. If you don’t know your roommate beforehand, definitely make sure you have ear plugs and an eye mask for when you want to sleep while your roommate is still awake.

5. Buy a reusable water bottle and, if possible, a water filter so you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on water bottles. In college, you drink A LOT of water.

6. ALWAYS have a spare ink cartridge for your printer.

7. Try not to stay up too late. Even though sometimes it seems like the day doesn’t end until 4 a.m., go to bed earlier than later. Otherwise, you will get sick from lack of sleep and do poorly in school.

Timmy Klanke

Sophomore, Brown University

Walt Whitman High School, 2009 Graduate

Timmy’s tips:

1. Buy a rug that goes with the furniture in the room.

2. Adding some cheap, but comfortable furniture of your own adds to the décor of the room. Try getting a futon because they seat a lot of friends and can also be used as a spare bed when friends visit.

3. Buying a 21- to 24-inch flat screen television is affordable and serves as a perfect size for entertainment.

4. Getting a bathrobe is smart. Having a shower kit with different compartments to put your toothbrush, soap and other showering supplies makes everything easier.

5. A fan is huge because most old dorms don’t have air conditioning.

Heather Parmelee

Junior, Bucknell University

Walter Johnson High School, 2008 Graduate

Heather’s tips:

1. A thick, foam mattress pad is a great investment.

2. Command hooks are a great item to buy because they keep things organized and off the floors.

3. Get an external hard drive in case the computer crashes.

4. Extension cords and power strips are necessary. With computer chargers, mini-fridges, cell phones, lamps and speakers to plug in, there’s a need for lots of outlets.

5. A dry erase calendar is necessary to stay on top of class schedules and important meetings.

6. Have headphones because roommates can be a big distraction.

Taylor Newman is an intern at Bethesda Magazine. She recently graduated from Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School and will attend Radford University in Virginia this fall.