Once youngsters move into their dorm rooms, many attempt to add a few personal touches to their new home. All too often a college dorm room is drab and uninspiring. Universities tend to make dorm rooms sparse so they are easy to maintain.

Very often walls are made from concrete or brick, and the space may not be very large. In addition, dorm rooms are often shared with a roommate, and the idea of spending semester after semester here may not be so appealing.

Students tend to arrive on campus with fixed budgets and not a lot of spending money for new furnishings, so dorm rooms often become populated with garage-sale finds and hand-me-downs. This may only add to the room’s poor aesthetics.

Making a dorm room your own does not require a lot of money or know-how. It starts with a vision, a few comforts from home and some collaboration with your roommate. The following are a few tips for young men and women looking to turn their dorm rooms from drab to fab.

* Know the dorm rules before making any permanent changes. Rather than face fines at the end of the school year, know what you can and can’t do to your room before making any changes. For example, schools may frown on holes in walls or other structural changes, so invest in stick-on hooks for hanging photos on walls.

* Consider using a dorm room planning Web site. Certain Web sites enable students to share a collaborative shopping cart with roommates so they can coordinate colors and avoid buying two of the same items.

* Remember, the bed is the pivotal piece of the room. Most dorm rooms fit little more than two beds and two desks. Therefore, the bulk of your design will come from outfitting your bed with a comforter that adds color and life to the room. If you haven’t yet decided on a color scheme with your roommate, you may want to opt for neutral colors, or even basic black-and-white, which will blend with anything.

* Invest in other creature comforts. A nice area rug and a few decorative lamps can remove the institutional feel of overhead fluorescent lights and cinder block walls. Task lighting enables you to get work done at your desk or to read on the bed.

* Consider curtains to add a homey feel. While blinds certainly have their utility, fabric curtains can help absorb noise and also make a dorm room feel more like home. If your dorm room has an attached bathroom, hang a shower curtain and use thick towels to make the space seem more like home.

* Carve out a spot for a mini refrigerator. Students should not survive on cafeteria food alone. Bring a mini refrigerator for those late-night cravings. This will save you from overpaying at vending machines or at the nearby convenience store.

* Ask Mom what laundry detergent she uses. Smells can trigger powerful memories and emotions. Washing linens and clothing with the same detergent used at home can make school feel more familiar.

* Don’t forget photos. Frame photos of friends and family members and place them around your area of the dorm room. This way you will have familiar faces smiling back at you when you need a little pick-me-up.


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