Moving out for the first time is stressful and nerve-racking enough, much less having to try and figure out how in the world you are going to fit all of your stuff into a small, restricted room that you share with someone else. On top of this, other questions are added like figuring out how to personalize your dorm room and make it feel like home, as well as countless other decisions to make about your dorm. I remember spending endless amounts of time on Pinterest looking at different ways I could decorate my dorm and how I could personalize it to my own style. I remember the unnecessary stress that I went through in preparations for moving in. I even remember losing sleep over how I would accommodate living with someone I had never met before. I remember all of this like it was yesterday, and in the past two semesters i’ve learned a lot about living in an 9×9 shared dorm room with another person. So, here are some tips that I have learned throughout the year about how to survive moving into your first dorm room or shared space apartment.
Tip #1: DIY projects can save you a LOT of money (as well as allow you to personalize your space.)
If you consider yourself crafty, or just want to save some money on room decor, I highly recommend this. I was able to save a lot of money by making my own room decor rather than purchasing them.
I made these two chevron prints with 2 8×10 canvas’s and some cheap acrylic paint from a local craft store.
I used some masking tape to map out the chevron lines. I used a ruler and a pencil to get them as symmetrical as possible.
The next day I peeled off the tape and voilà!
I also made this cute flower picture frame with a cheap white frame from a thrift shop and some fake flowers from a Michael’s.
I created this look by cutting off the flowers from the stems and hot glued them to the frame. I then picked out one of my favorite pictures from my friends back home and placed it in the frame.
Another thing that I made myself were my pillows. I had trouble finding super inexpensive fabrics that I wanted for my pillows, but it still came out a lot cheaper than if I would have just bought some decorative throw pillows from Target or Bed Bath and Beyond. I just measured out the size of my pillow inserts (from IKEA) onto the fabric and cut out and sewed the two pieces of fabric together, making sure the outsides of the fabrics were facing inwards, and also that I left one side open. Then, I flipped the cases inside out, slipped the pillows in, and sewed the one side together.
This was great because it allowed me to pick out the exact colors that I wanted for my pillows so that I could match them to my other room decorations.
Tip #2: Keep in mind that the space is LIMITED.
The amount of space you have at home versus the amount you will have in your dorm will most likely be a very drastic change from what you’re used to. It’s important to realize this when packing to move out and choosing your storage boxes and what not. I got these stackable boxes from Ikea and they were great for storing, but if I were to go back, I probably would have chosen a different set. While I thought the black looked the best, I would have gotten all of my boxes in clear instead. The reason I would choose them in clear is to be able to easily see what is inside of the boxes. I would also choose a set that has lids that securely attach to the boxes. With the set I bought the lids fell off easily and it made it difficult to access the boxes easily. I would recommend going to The Container Store if you have one near you for the greatest selection of storage boxes to choose from.
Another thing that I would recommend is a hanging closet organizer. This is where I stored things that I couldn’t hang (pants, skirts, scarves, etc.). I got mine from Bed Bath and Beyond.
Also, If you think that you will have too many clothes for your closet like I did, bring your clothes in seasons. What I mean by this is during the fall/winter months bring all of your warmer clothes, and leave the the shorts and sundresses at home. Then when it starts getting warmer, start switching out some of your fall/winter clothes for your spring/summer pieces every time you get the chance to go home.
Tip #3: Create your own vanity set
This tip isn’t a necessity, but if you take longer to do your hair and makeup, I would recommend creating your own mini vanity set. I say mini because you still want to leave room for homework and studying, but it’s nice not to have to share the counter space with your roommates when everyone is trying to get ready.
I used this mini storage set to store my makeup, brushes, hair ties/ bobby pins, bracelets and rings/ earrings. I got this from Walmart for under 5 dollars. I got the mirror from IKEA and I thought the size was perfect. It was big enough to get ready with but didn’t get in the way when I was studying.
Tip #4: Lights! Lights! Lights!
I am such a night owl, but at the same time there are times when I like to get up early in the mornings to go work out or start my day off. I was very much aware of this when dorm shopping and I wanted to make sure that I wouldn’t disturb my roommate with my bizarre schedule. The thing that saved me was having lights that I could turn on that were light enough for me to see my side of the room, but dim enough to not disturb and wake up my roommate. Christmas lights worked super well…
I got the black lamp from IKEA and it was so great! I loved it because I could aim it towards any part of my room when the lights were off and my roommate was sleeping. It made it so I could get ready without having to turn on the main lights.
Tip #5: Personalize your room!
As adorable as the dorm room inspirations may be on Tumblr or Pinterest, the best way to decorate your space is by personalizing it and adding touches of your own. Whether that means bringing things that remind you of home (pictures of friends and family, stuffed animals, memoirs) or decking out your space with your favorite music artist or celebrity crush. Those personal touches are what really will transform your dorm into a space that you will love. You do you, boo 😉
Happy dorm room decorating!
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