Going away to college for the first time can be an exciting yet intimidating time in a person's life. There is so much planning that goes into selecting a college and making sure that finances are in good shape that one often forgets about the actual room they will be living in for the next year. Yes, the college dorm room is not only the center of studying, but also the den of social interaction. At one moment you may be using it to cram for your history exam, and the next you will be using it to host a party with some of your closest friends.
While everyone knows about the basic items needed for a college dorm room, such as microwaves and refrigerators, there are plenty of things that can add some extra flavor to your new home. Do you want your space to be the talk of the campus? Do you want the rest of your floor to be envious of you and your roommate? Try a few of the following, and you'll be amazed how you can maximize your space while also giving your room some additional flair.
Add Color to Walls with Photos and PostersWhen I was in college, the first thing that stood out to us as we moved in was how barren the walls of our room were. In some colleges, you may end up with white-colored cinder block walls. In others, you may be lucky enough to have insulated walls with a better paint job. In any case, one of the first things you will want to do after unpacking your bags is to get some photos or posters up on the walls.
Before taking this step, be sure that you identify your college's rules on how to hang pictures and posters. Some schools are pretty strict on not allowing nails or tacks in order to hang things up. In many cases, you may be forced to use a special type of putty that will hold the poster/photo in place. The goal is to decorate the walls without damaging the walls because trust me you will end up paying for damages later.
When it comes to photos, I found that having a good selection of photos from home were good conversation starters with my new friends in college. You don't want to post anything too juvenile because you're beyond that now, but you do want to put up things that will help people understand more about you. The photos can also lead people to want to ask more about your background. Feel free to get creative with the layout around the room. Some people create photo collages and hang them around the room, while others stick with traditional frames spaced around their desk.
Another easy way to spice up the dorm room is to locate posters and hang them up around the room. I've always been partial to framed posters because they give off a more refined look and they keep the edges of the poster from tearing over time. However, if you don't have the time or money to frame them, feel free to hang them up any way possible.
Your posters should be something interesting that will make your room memorable. A poster of the latest Playmate might look cool to the other guys on your floor, but is that really going to impress the women that you bring back to your room? And that latest Star Wars movie poster? Is it attracting visitors or pushing them away? Figure out what works best for you, and find something original. Nobody wants their walls to look exactly the same as everyone else in their dorm.
Maximize Your Space with Lofts and CratesNo matter what college you go to, your dorm room is most likely going to be a lot smaller than the room you left at home. Chances are you are still going to try bringing way more stuff than you should during your freshman year. In order to make your dorm room as comfortable as possible, you are going to have to find ways to maximize the limited space that you have.
One way of doing this is by using a bed loft frame. Not every college allows this, but they are great space savers if you are able to use them. I have to admit, I haven't seen many guys that have these, but times may be changing. If not, then make it work for you the best way you know how. The frames themselves help to raise the bed mattress further off the floor so that there is extra storage space underneath your bed. If you have the right kinds of plastic storage bins, you can store some of your clothes comfortably underneath your bed leaving your closet free from clutter.
Another object that I found useful was an empty milk crate. Usually the local stores would have a few sitting outside waiting to be disposed of, or the store owners would gladly give them away if asked politely. They may take a little bit of spray paint to match the rest of your decor, but they end up being great stackable storage for everything from clothes to books.
Relax Your Eyes With Natural Lighting
Lighting is another huge adjustment that you will have to make when you move into your dorm room. Many of the halls have overhead florescent lighting which over time can lead to head aches and eye strain. Nothing is worse than a fluorescent light that continually flickers when you are trying to do something important. Not to mention, some nights you may just want to relax with your lights dimmed instead of on full blast.
For times like these, I suggest having at least one lamp capable of giving off some natural light. The lamp can either have one setting or have a built in dimmer whichever fits your preference. Halogen lamps used to be popular for this type of lights, but became dangerous due to the amount of heat they gave off in the process. Don't be surprised if your college bans the use of halogens on campus. Keep this in mind before you spend money on them at the store before the school year starts.
Lamps are another thing that can demonstrate your personality. There are a variety of colors, shapes, and lamp shades to choose from. Pick the one that sets you apart from the crowd and starts conversation. It's the little things that show off how unique you are compared to the rest of the college crowd. It may seem awkward in the beginning to be different, but by the time you graduate you'll be glad that you set yourself apart.
Bring the Noise With a Sound SystemThe final piece of the puzzle is the sound system. A room just isn't a room without some way of producing some music. Whether you are studying or just hanging out with friends, you are going to want some way of playing music in the background.
I found that the shelf systems produced the best sounds without taking too much space within the room. Nowadays most of them are equipped so that Ipods, smartphones, and other MP3 players can be plugged into them eliminating the need to burn CDs. Find something with a remote so that you can lay back in bed at night and control your tunes without having to get up.
All in all, it doesn't take a ton to make your dorm room come to life. Start with those areas and work from there. Check out what your friends have done and find ways to work your own flavor into it. By the time the year ends, you'll be sad to take down all of your hard work.