Students embrace creativity as they plan for their future living spaces

Elizabeth Lee, Managing Editor

With many seniors preparing to head off to college in the fall, dorm life preparation is a hot topic. As hectic as the transition from high school to college may be, living away from home for the first time is an exciting part of life and requires planning and organization. Here are some tips for making the best of dorm life as well as decor inspiration.


Bring the outdoors in

It is no secret that dorm rooms can be small, dark and unwelcoming. Plants and elements of nature can brighten up and bring a splash of vibrancy to the tiny living space.

“My friend, senior Katie Wu, got me into succulents, so I am thinking of decorating my dorm with some,” senior Joanna Cabalquinto, who will be attending Pepperdine University, said. “[Succulents] are super cute and are really easy to maintain. If you forget to water them for a day, it’s alright.”

While large potted plants are not ideal for a dorm, small decorative cacti or bamboo stems add a simple touch of nature to the room. The plants can be either real or fake, but are easy to take care of either way.

One can purchase real or fake succulents and other small plants from garden centers and home decor stores.

Less is more

Sometimes, less is in fact more. Minimalistic decorations and supplies will help make a dorm room look and feel larger. Overcrowding of clothes, school supplies and decorations will overwhelm the already small space.

“I’m only bringing a few mementos from home,” senior Nicky Reardon, who will be attending San Diego State University, said. “Things like pictures or small little things I can decorate my room with to make it feel more like home”

When packing for college, remember to take necessities but don’t go overboard with the room decorations. While it is reasonable to bring along pictures and memorabilia of family and friends, keep the number of picture frames to a minimum. Command strips will keep decorations up, but also follow college regulations.

Seeking storage

Finding storage space for clothing that is not in-season or extra supplies can be difficult in a small room. Students living in dorms often need to find creative ways to store their personal items.

“I am going to use lots of storage containers, bins and dividers to keep my materials organized,” Cabalquinto said.

Storage bins can be placed underneath beds to keep out of sight. Containers come in various shapes and sizes so finding one that will fit a particular color scheme should not be too hard. Retailers such as Target, Walmart and Ikea carry these storage units at relatively low prices and in bright colors.

Be sure to check out these stores early, as the college rush may cause them to run out.

Communication is key

Living with a peer for the first time can bring up many discrepancies. What are their sleep patterns? How often are they planning on going out? Do they have any strange habits? Communication is key in developing and maintaining a healthy relationship with one’s roommate.

“I think being able to talk to your roommate is extremely important. It’s hard to live with someone, especially if you don’t know them well,” Reardon said.

Nonetheless, there are many roommate horror stories out there that emphasize the need for positive interactions. While there will be likely be differences between individuals, a lack of communication between the two might escalate the situation.

Going out to have dinner at least once a week, meeting up in the library and putting a message board up in the room are methods that encourage fluency in communication.

“I think it’s much easier to get along with someone you are living with [when you] find things in common,” Reardon said. “If you get along with each other, being together all the time will be a lot more pleasant.”

Home away from home

The first year away from home can be difficult. For many college freshmen, homesickness can make students feel lonely and emotionally distressed.

“I will definitely be coming back home during all of the [long] breaks,” Cabalquinto said.

To combat homesickness, students can mimic aspects of their bedroom in their dorm. For example, matching color schemes can make the aesthetics of the room feel as if the student is at home.

“I am going to miss being so close to my friends, but I am also excited for the new experiences in college,” Cabalquinto said.