Dorm Decor 101

To the dismay of youth and the joy of parents everywhere, that autumnal chill in the air means it's time to go back to school. For college students moving into dorms, the new school year is an especially exciting and challenging time. Dorm living calls for making the most of a small space, and with all those expensive textbooks to buy, the budget for decor is usually tight. Here are some essentials for surviving shared student living and creating a standout room for the 2012-2013 school year:

  • Invest in a good alarm clock. Now that you're the master of your own time management, you'll want a quality (and preferably stylish) alarm clock to help you wake up on the right side of the bed.
  • Push your bed against the wall and add extra pillows to turn your bed into a "couch" by day.
  • Keep an iron and mini-ironing board stored under your bed or in your closet. College is where you learn how to become a professional, and looking the part is the first step.
  • Create an inspiration board featuring mementos and photos of family and friends to bring a little bit of home with you and keep you in good spirits.
  • Consider hanging a wall tapestry to add color and personality to your room if your building does not allow paint.
  • Warm up cold floors with a decorative rug. Talk to your roommate about which colors or style of rug will coordinate best with your decor. Natural fiber rugs are a good compromise if you and your roommate have different tastes.
  • Brighten up your room with a reading lamp. Harsh fluorescent lighting is not ideal for studying, so you may want to invest in a table lamp for those late-night reading sessions.
  • Use desk organizers to keep clutter in control. Scattered papers and a messy environment can cause distraction and stress.
  • To make your room feel bigger, think vertical. Make the most of your ceiling height and use tall bookshelves, or consider lofting your bed, to maximize your living space.
  • Keep storage baskets uniform in color and style to help them blend into your decor.
  • For additional storage, consider self storage. If your dorm room can't hold everything you need, such as musical instruments, sports gear, books, art supplies or bulky stuff, check out your local self storage centers. They may offer a student rate and will keep your belongings safe and secure for when you need them.