Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Grab your pen and a notepad and get ready to take a few notes!  It's that time of year again, when teenagers around the world pack their bags, leave the comfortable surroundings of the womb (urr, umm, home) and head out into the big, bad world.  Well, actually, the big bad world of college these days costs an average of $25,000 a year, so how bad can that be, especially if your parents have agreed to fund it!  No matter how big a star you were in High School there's nothing popular about most dorm designs.  Many have cold, hard floors, cinder block walls, nasty furniture, tiny closets and awful florescent lighting.  But don't fret just yet, because it's easier and less expensive than you think to whip that small space into something you won't hate to face!  I was lucky when I got to college and met my roommate because we clicked from day one.  We both quickly decided that the prison-like cell had to go, so we headed down the road to Ikea for a little help from the Swedes (after asking our floor RA, of course).  For less than $500 ($250/each) we purchased a loft style bed, large shag rug, bean bag chairs, cool lamps, new bed linens and an inexpensive TV stand.  The first few months of adjusting to college life can be difficult, so making our dorm dwelling more comfortable for us, made the transition a lot easier!  I stood behind a mother and her daughter the other day at Target with four shopping carts filled with crazy nonsense, from storage solutions to large mirrors, none of it necessary and all of it way over-priced.  I'm sure this will be music to parents ears, but you don't have to spend a fortune to make a cold dorm feel warm and cozy.  Here are a few tips to make your college-bound kids flip!
1.) If the room has cold, laminate floors, head to the local carpet store and purchase a remnant (most go for well under $50 for 12'x12' pieces.  If that isn't available, the Home Depot and Lowes sell inexpensive carpet by the spool right off the floor for as little as $.25/square foot.
2.) Most dorm room beds come with the option of raising them to create more storage beneath.  If yours doesn't, head to the local hardware store and purchase 1' risers to place under each leg, allowing for ample storage underneath the bed.
3.) Ask the Resident Assistant on hand if you can paint the walls (usually they say yes, heck, you're paying enough, might as well create a comfortable space to study).  Above each desk, use magnetic paint or chalkboard paint to create unique places for class notes, reminders, etc.
4.) Don't give in to the Bed Bath and Beyond Target and Walmart college dorm shelving units that cost $40+, give little storage, take up a lot of room and most likely won't fit in your dorm anyway.  Instead, the old standby of milk crates and 2'x4's purchased at the local hardware store goes much, much further for storage and is easy on the wallet.
5.) Make this a fun project for the better way to get to know your roommate then designing a cool room with them!