Bedroom Decorating & DIY

No Place Like Home (or Away)

By Amanda Greene, Brand Manager for, leading online residence hall linens supplier.

Remember that first campus apartment? I was given the old refrigerator that was rusting away in the family garage. For reasons that now escape me, we decided to paint the fridge bright yellow, so it looked like we had a school bus in the kitchen. Tres chic!

Actually, for a parent sending their child off to school, or for a student living away from home for the first time, there is a balancing act that goes into decorating. The parent is going to want to make sure their kid is comfortable, and that the whole experience is well, homey, and the kid is going to want that too, though with enough difference from their room at home so they can say it’s theirs. In other words, the same as it ever was, but distinctive enough so that it doesn’t look like Mom and Dad’s.

Fortunately, every appliance known to mankind–refrigerators, microwaves, hot plates, even washer-dryers–has now been miniaturized so that no one should ever have to resort to the yellow school bus refrigerator.

The first thing to do is sit down with your child/parent, and come up with a list of college essentials, like appliances (depending on how much room you have), communications and computer devices (laptops, tablets, phones), places to plug them in (power strip, for example), furniture (minimal, hand-me-down, lightweight, portable, collapsible), and bedding supplies such as pillows, comforters, blankets, etc. The latter can lend that air of homey-ness to a campus bedroom that can make all the difference, and the newly emancipated student might be looking for dorm room bedding supplies that remind one of home.

Lighting can be a big deal. That’s because in shared quarters, one roommate might want to sleep while another studies, so the overhead florescent 100 watt burner might not be appropriate. Instead, look for powerful but small desk lamps that don’t have much of a footprint, or powerful book light contraptions that clip onto a desk or the book itself, like the Mighty Bright series of clip-on lights.

Like everything else, sound systems have become smaller and more powerful. Check out systems like the Logitech Z623, which pumps 200 watts through two THX equipped 10 inch speakers that fit nicely on a desktop. (THX sound is used in movie theaters and is just the ticket for video gamers.) These speakers have a low frequency sub woofer that fits neatly under a desk, and are equipped with a bass control and a headphone and Aux jack, so you can plug in your iPad or smart phone. Roommates and visitors will be impressed.

What goes on the wall will most likely be the province of the student, as it should be. This is one of the first signs of independence or lack of taste, depending on your view. At any rate, the well equipped dorm room is a work of art, and may provide inspiration of all sorts for students of any age.

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  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 26, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    Glad to hear from you. I am moving into a brand new home in St. George, Utah and would appreciate some ideas on how to decorate on a budget. Any ideas would be great. Thanks.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 31, 2012 at 9:23 am

    The “yellow refridgerator” this takes me back to my younger days when I went off to unniversity!

    I was given this prehistoric microwave from my parents and it almost needed winding up to make it work.

    They were the days!