The official start of school may be a month away, but it is not too early to begin gathering supplies, especially for recent high school graduates who will be heading off to college.
“Living on your own for the first time can be scary, which sometimes makes you forget the small things. For dorms I would definitely recommend a desk lamp, small fan and storage units,” said David Bromstad, HGTV star and host of “Color Splash.”
Whether living in a dorm room or an apartment, there are a few things that will help make a new space feel like home, according to experts.
“When thinking about decorating your dorm room, you want to make it feel like home, like an oasis on campus,” said Jessica Joyce, public relations manager for Bed, Bath & Beyond.
She said the best place to begin is the bed.
“You’ll not only be sleeping on that bed, you may be studying on it or eating breakfast on it. Layer on the color and pattern,” she said. “Pick a pattern that is representative of you and your personal style, the same way you would decorate yourself with color and accessories.”
Joyce said Bed, Bath & Beyond offers an eight-piece dorm kit that includes a reversible comforter, standard sham, sheet set, two cotton towels and a storage organizer.
“It carries the color through the room and is an easy way to get your decor throughout the space,” she said.
“Create a global-chic atmosphere by accessorizing a dorm room or first apartment with the season’s top prints and patterns,” said Ralph Snyder, home design director for Kohl’s Department Stores. “Fun florals, geometric designs and tribal prints are a few patterns that can be found at Kohl’s this season. Mix and match these prints by adding a chevron-printed pouf, geometric printed bedding and floral decorative pillows.”
Bromstad is a fan of color and said it is the easiest way to add personality to any space.
“If your bedding is a neutral color, find a set of sheets or maybe some pillows that have an accent color that you love. When it comes to personalizing it’s all up to you,” he said.
“There are no hard and fast rules for using color,” Joyce said. “It’s more about putting things that are representative of you, what you feel looks good in that space.”
“I think the biggest mistake people make with color is being afraid to use it. Color has so much value, especially when it comes to personalizing a space,” Bromstad said. “One thing I would keep in mind is that the colors you choose you have to live with year-round. Make sure you really love the items you are picking out.
“Personally, I love the combination of black, white and red. Other fabulous colors to consider are Pantones in the green and blue families,” he said.
Joyce said there are many colors that go together well, such as hot pink with orange . Making the combinations work will depend on how it is carried throughout the room. Joyce suggests colorful accents including pillows, picture frames and stereo speakers.
“Update basics through color by adding a butterfly chair with neon piping and incorporate colorful lamps and storage bins to add excitement to the space,” Snyder added.
Throw rugs are a good way to bring in splashes of color. They also warm the space literally and figuratively, Joyce said.
One essential element that is often overlooked is lighting, according to Bromstad. “Desk lamps are crucial, especially in the dorms. Lighting is not always ideal, and you will definitely need it when you are working on homework or if your roommate goes to sleep before you.”
Bromstad also recommends a small fan, since not all dorm rooms have air conditioning. He said you also can add ambience with fragrance.
“Add your favorite fragrance with a wall diffuser or some reed diffusers to cover up some of those horrific odors that can accumulate in a dorm space. It really adds a personal touch without a huge financial commitment.”
Another way to bring the space to life is to decorate the walls. Joyce said she really likes Bed, Bath & Beyond’s bicycle wheel collage, which holds pictures in the wheel’s spokes.
“Wall decals are great, especially if you can’t put holes in the wall,” she said.
Some wall decals also serve as dry erase boards, which are ideal for writing notes to roommates or reminders of upcoming assignments.
Bromstad also is a fan of murals. He said they are inexpensive and will not damage the walls when using peel-and-stick technology. “The best part is that you can move and rearrange the mural at any time .”
Because the space in a dorm room or first apartment is usually small — and often furnished — they said to think of ways to make the most of what space is available.
“My biggest piece of advice would be to organize your closets and study/work space. There are many different types of bins you can purchase to help you declutter and maximize your space,” Bromstad said. “Depending on your space and how many you have, you can convert these units into a working desk or side table with the addition of a piece of acrylic, plywood or glass.”
“Adding versatile pieces makes any room multifunctional,” Snyder said. “Poufs and floor pillows can provide additional seating, while clip lamps and storage units can be easily moved for multiple purposes.”
“Storage solutions are the definite key,” Joyce said. “The door is a perfect example. You can hang a full-length mirror on it, add extra storage space for shoes or add an extra rod for clothing storage.”
Joyce also likes to use bed risers. Not only will they increase the available storage space under the bed, they can feature electrical outlets and USB ports providing easier access for electrical appliances.
She also recommends hanging jewelry and scarf organizers and bins or shoe racks inside the closet. There also are rods that hang from a closet’s existing rod that double the space for clothing.
Joyce said not to forget extra throws for cool winter nights.
“It might not be as warm as Vegas if you are moving away from home,” she said. “You might need extra blankets in addition to your comforter ... something to snuggle with. ”