DIY Tricks to Make Sure You Have the Best Dorm Room

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Category: College Moves

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We recently shared a list of the essentials (and not so essential items) to bring with you to college. Today, we’re taking things up a notch with dorm room ideas that really personalize your room and make it one-of-a-kind.  When every dorm room looks almost identical, it may seem impossible to really put your personal touch on this space. But these DIY room decor ideas will make your dorm the best one in your hall!

Make a Bulletin Board Out of an Old Shutter

Dorm Room Ideas: DIY Room Decor - Shutter Bulletin Board

Why buy a generic magnet or bulletin board from a big box store when you can create a unique piece instead? We found an old shutter from Habitat for Humanity Restore and spray painted half of it white, then the other half teal. Then we bought some clothes pins to tack up cute photographs and notes.

Hang this on your dorm room wall or simply lean it on top of a dresser for a one-of-a-kind picture board that is bound to stand out to anyone who walks by your door.

Cover the Ugly Beige Walls With a Tapestry
Dorm Room Ideas: DIY Room Decor - Cover those Dorm Walls

So many dorm room walls are a yucky beigey-yellow color. Not the most flattering color in the world, and it’s certainly not something you can change (no painting allowed!). We suggest covering those lackluster walls with a giant wall tapestry. You can find some great ones online (we love this one!) and you can use command hooks to hang it from the ceiling. The best part is a large chunk of your wall will be covered and you won’t have to stare at anything boring all year-long.

Use Washi Tape to Jazz up Your Door

Washi Tape is the stuff of legend. The fact that it leaves minimal residue means it’s perfect for designs, lettering or anything else creative you can put your mind to. Geometric shapes like the one pictured are always attention grabbers, but sideways lettering or origami shapes look great too. For best results, grab a few different colors from the store.

You might have to ask your RA first before you start, or if you’re like us, ask for forgiveness instead – door designs are so cool and memorable once you see them that it’s hard to say no!

Marker Up a Personal Doormat for the HallwayDorm Room Ideas: DIY Room Decor - DIY Personalized Doormat

This is a project we love for homes, apartments and yes.. .even dorm rooms! Take a plain doormat and carefully add a personalized message using a sharpie marker. Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing: Write “Dorm Sweet Dorm”, write your room number or even write the initials for you and your roomie. Get creative with this simple DIY project and you’ll be proud to put this doormat in the hallway for all of your guests to marvel over!
Here’s the full tutorial for this one.

Play Scrabble on Your Mini FridgeDorm Room Ideas: DIY Room Decor - Scrabble on the Mini Fridge

This DIY room decor project is one of our favorite dorm room ideas because it’s so budget-friendly. Simply take some small ceramic tiles (you can find them at a Habitat for Humanity Restore or your local home improvement store) and turn them into Scrabble tiles. Use a ceramic paint pen to write the letters and numbers directly onto the tile, and then glue a magnet on the back. Create a bunch of these for your mini fridge and you’ll have fun all semester playing large games of Scrabble right in your dorm room. Here’s the full tutorial for this easy DIY project.

Fake It Til You Make It with a Succulent PlanterDorm Room Ideas: DIY Room Decor - Succulent Planter

We truly believe every room looks better with a little greenery in it. But we get it… there’s probably no way you can keep any real plants alive and thriving in your tiny dorm room. Instead, use the ultimate “plant-hack”: faux succulent planter! Pick up some fake succulents (which look pretty real these days), a clear vase and some pebbles so you can create this succulent planter in minutes! Check out the full, simple tutorial for this one.
Dorm Room Ideas: DIY Room Decor
It’s the personal touches that make a space extra special. Stand out at college this year with some of these DIY projects and crafty dorm room ideas!

What You Should Bring, Could Bring and DON’T Bring When Moving Into a Dorm

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‘Tis the season for college dorm room shopping! If you’ve been to any of the big box stores lately, we’re confident you have seen all the colorful storage things just screaming “take me to college!”.

Some college students are eager to start prepping for their new “home away from home”, while others aren’t too interested in putting in much extra time. Whichever you are, we aren’t judging. We’re just here to make sure everyone is prepared for the excitement!

With that in mind, here’s an in depth synopsis about what you should bring, what you could bring, and what you don’t bring to college come fall. Be independent and avoid having mom and dad come visit (with the essentials you forgot) less than a week after moving into your new digs.

What You Should Bring

Towel, Toiletries and Laundry Detergent

Whether your dorm is equipped with private bathrooms or community bathrooms, this is the number one must: multiple towels, toiletries and shower shoes. Most college students opt for a shower caddy, which is a handy way to corral all of their shower essentials when traveling to and from the shower. Be sure to choose a shower caddy that can drain any water from the shower, because you don’t want it to become moldy from sitting water.

Unfortunately, college life also comes with learning to do your own laundry, and usually, the laundry facilities aren’t anything to get excited about. Stock up on plenty of laundry detergent, softener and dryer sheets to keep your clothing looking its best (and your parents at bay) all semester long.

A Microwave and Mini Fridge with Snacks

Tried and true for a reason: make sure you pack a microwave with some snacks! Healthy or unhealthy, we’re definitely not judging, just reminding you that having your own stash of food is important. You don’t want to find yourself starving and the cafeteria is closed, nor do you want to pay cafeteria prices. You probably don’t want to buy food in bulk because you won’t have a ton of places to store it, but having some snacks stashed away to hold you over until the cafe opens is essential.

Speaking of snacks, most dorms also allow you to bring your own microwave and mini fridge. You can always cut down on the costs of these items by arranging with your roommate to each bring one of the two, that way you only have to invest in one, not both.

Plenty of Power Strips and Extension Cords

Laptop, printer, phone charger, microwave, mini fridge, blow dryer, iron, string lights, coffee maker…. all these things hog outlets. Dorms only have a few outlets though, and you’ll likely be sharing them with your roomie on top of it. What can we say, the struggle is real! Along with all of these everyday essentials, be sure to pack at least one power strip and possible extension cord so you never get caught with a dead cell phone or no coffee! That could be bad.

A Secure Box for Very Important Papers

Focusing on the basic must-have stuff makes it easy to forget about this essential. Make sure you bring your driver’s license, insurance card, social security number (or card as long as you can keep it safe), emergency contact and medical info, paperwork for refillable prescriptions, and any other documents you may need while you’re away. We hope you never have to use some of these, but having them with you just in case is necessary.

What You Could Bring

Carpet Squares or a Cool Rug

Some dorm rooms come with commercial grade carpets, but most of these carpets have seen high traffic for several years (at least!). Packing an additional rug or carpet squares to add to your dorm will not only make your room look a lot cuter, but it will make the whole space feel a lot more warm and cozy. Consider a cool rug because this tiny upgrade will make such a difference… and may even keep your room a bit warmer in the winter if it experiences any kind of drafts like our dorms rooms did.

A Bunch of Cleaning Supplies

No matter your lifestyle, living in these cramped quarters all day every day means that your dorm room is bound to get a little messy! And since mom or dad isn’t tagging along to clean up after you, it’s important to pack some cleaning supplies so you can keep the place clean… especially during flu season.

Here’s a list of some basic items you should consider buying a few or all of, especially if you have a closet space:

  • Vaccum
  • Disinfectant
  • Duster
  • Swiffer mop
  • Windex
  • Bleach wipes
  • Dish soap

A Printer

Before going out and splurging on a new printer or lugging your large printer into your dorm room, be sure you actually need this piece.

Although having a personal printer is a huge perk when it comes time to last second papers, most schools offer a free printing lab that can do the same job. Plus printers are large and take up some valuable space in your room. Not to mention they can be costly with ink refills and necessary repairs, so be sure it’s a definite must (or a fancy luxury) before you add it to your shopping list!

What You Don’t Bring

Twin Bed Sheets

Although it may appear as though you will have a twin bed in your dorm room, most dorms actually have XL twins instead of the traditional twin sized bed. So packing twin-sized bedding will be a big mistake since you’ll find out pretty quickly that these new sheets won’t fit on your new bed! We speak from experience. If you want to double check, try social media to get some inside intel.

An Office Chair

Almost every dorm these days provides their own chairs. Coupled with how much space these things take up in a car, you absolutely do not want to make the mistake of doubling up. And if you’re really attached to your chair at home? Considering how big dorm rooms are, now’s the perfect time to start learning to love other seats!

Your Pet

Do we even have to say this? Apparently, we do. We know, we know… it’s hard to leave home, and even harder to leave home when you’re leaving your beloved pet at home. But unfortunately, dorm rooms do not allow pets of any kind. So sadly you can’t sneak in your pooch, kitty or even turtle into the halls of your new home.

Any Luggage at All

We urge you to skip the bulky luggage. Unless you need it for frequent flights back home, luggage is an item that will take up so much valuable space in your tiny new digs. Instead, try packing everything you have in oversized duffle bags (or even trash bags) that can be broken down and stored under your bed or somewhere else less invasive. The duffle bag will still allow you to pack up and travel, yet won’t waste valuable space like large luggage would.

Communicate and Consolidate! Whatever Your Roommate Is Bringing

It’s important to touch base with your roommate before the move-in day so you can coordinate what you are both bringing so you don’t double up! Space is very limited and sometimes so are funds, so splitting these items up will not only ensure your room isn’t overflowing with doubles of everything, but will also help cut down on costs for both of you.

The countdown to college is officially on. Hopefully, now you are fully prepared for what you should bring, could bring, and should NEVER bring to move-in day!

How Much Do You Tip Movers?

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 Are you supposed to tip movers?

We get this question all the time. The answer is “no”. Or, “yes”. It kinda depends, so let us explain.

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