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Moving into a new environment is a big change for students. Once students find themselves situated in their new place, the topic of decorating the space arises, yet people cannot simply decorate as they wish when they share the space with roommates. Before buying any decorations, students should keep in mind the boundaries and rules of their roommates, as well any dorm policies. 

It’s always advisable to start small when moving into the new place. You do not want to bring too many items and then have to take the majority of them back home. 

When starting to decorate, it’s important to look at what style looks best for you. Here are some questions that can help with the decoration process. Are you more minimalistic, boho chic, trendy or modern? What kind of textures are you looking for — wood, metals or soft materials? How big is the dorm? Where are the electrical outlets? Where does the sunlight hit? What is the budget for decorating? A great way to gain some inspiration is to look through catalogs of stores that specialize in decor, such as IKEA, Target or even looking through social media posts. 

Once you have a rough idea of how you want to decorate, then comes the task of where to find the items you are looking for. Second-hand stores, such as Goodwill or the Salvation Army, are great places to start if you’re looking for furniture. Not only is it more affordable, but there could be some very unique pieces that one wouldn’t expect to find.

You can also look through apps such as OfferUp or Letgo where oftentimes there are good finds or other college students looking to get rid of their own furniture. When using these apps, it’s important to be safe and not to divulge too much information. When meeting up with sellers, try to bring someone else, should the furniture be heavy, for a second opinion and for safety. Flea markets and swap meets are also alternatives to find new items, such as decorations or anything that piques your interest.

Here are some tips to help achieve a new look for the dorm: 

  • Try to keep a checklist of items that you need to keep yourself organized, and jot down the price tags. It’s easy to get sidetracked when something neat catches your eye, but if such a thing does happen, use the list to compare prices elsewhere.
  • If the dorm is small, add a mirror to add more dimension to the room. Try to decorate with lighter colors so the room feels more spacious. Buy bins to keep any extra belongings in or find an efficient way to fold shirts in order to have more room for clothes. 
  • In case your dorm does not get much sunlight, invest in a lamp or small fairy lights, as they are a great way to light up a room. You can find these items through sites like Amazon, or places like Target or thrift stores.
  • Another way to add personality to a room is through the comforter that you put on your bed. If you want something neutral or minimal, colors like blue, white or grey are good choices. If you’re looking for something more soft and cute, colors and patterns such as pink, baby blue or pastels help give it that touch. Ultimately, the choice is up to you.