Back to School: Make your dorm room more like home
They’re supposed to be homes away from home, but it can be hard to make dorm rooms feel homey.
Luckily, Maxwell Ryan of NYC-based home design site apartmenttherapy.com has some tips for how to make any dorm room feel cozy, comfortable and charming. Here are Ryan’s best ideas to perk up your dorm room, to make it feel less like a rectangular cinder block and more like a livable, breathable space.
The underlying ingredient in all of Ryan’s suggestions is to bring homey elements into a hard cell with touch, feel and sound.
Don’t use the overhead light because it’s usually florescent. Instead, use three lamps placed at eye level. They can be table lamps or floor lamps. One should be a desk lamp and the other two should be around the bed or a chair if there is space in your room. Equally important are incandescent or warm light bulbs in the lamps.
Stores: Restoration Hardware, CB2, Ikea, Crate & Barrel, West Elm, Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters
Ryan recommends: The Atomic Lamp from CB2, $129, CB2 stores and cb2.com
“The atomic lamp ... is very beautiful and retro,” Ryan says.
The Atelier Task Table Clamp Lamp from Restoration Hardware, $259, Restoration Hardware stores and restorationhardware.com
TEXTURES AND TEXTILES
To add some softness to your space, use fabrics. Get a mattress cover so you don’t have to use the plastic covering that typically comes with the dorm room bed. Feather beds, natural fiber pads or wool mattress covers are great options. For the exterior of your bed, get some comfortable bedding that personally expresses who you are. Duvets are a great way to liven up the room.
You also want to soften the sound of the room since noise easily bounces off concrete walls and floors. Get a rug — something colorful, soft and warm — and put it near your bed. Curtains are also a great way to quiet the room and give it a more cozy feel. They filter light and give you privacy — and they are much easier to install than window shades or blinds.
Stores: Dash & Albert and Dwell Studio for rugs; Overstock.com, Restoration Hardware and The Company Store for bedding
Ryan recommends: Rugs from Dash & Albert, various prices from $30 to $1,500, dashandalbert.com
Flannel sheets from The Company Store, from $18 to $114, thecompanystore.com
Vintage-washed Belgian linen duvet cover from Restoration Hardware, from $89 to $279, Restoration Hardware stores and restorationhardware.com
You want to have color in the dorm room, but make sure you don’t overdo it, Ryan cautions. He uses the 80/20 rule for color: 20% color and 80% neutral.
“It’s like your hands,” he says. “You put color on your fingernails, but the rest of your hand is natural.”
Color is great for bedding, throw pillows, rugs, curtains and artwork. The desk, carpet and wall, except for the artwork, should stay neutral.
“Lately, I’ve been seeing people framing fabric,” Ryan says. “It’s an instant colorful piece of artwork. You pull it tightly around a frame and staple it with a staple gun, and you have a great piece of inexpensive artwork.”
For fabrics, Ryan says to check out Marimekko, which sells its easily recognizable and cheerfully loud prints. “Marimekko has come back big time, and is very retro chic right now,” he says.
Marimekko also has great options for bedding and throw pillows.
Stores: Jonathan Adler, Marimekko, CB2
Ryan recommends: Marimekko pillow cases, comforters, bedding, various prices from $39.96 to $159, 200 Fifth Ave. or marimekko.com
Ryan loves Poppin, an online store for accessories.
“They sell colorful, funky staplers, pens, file cabinets, chairs — things for the home office that are also great for the dorm room,” he notes.
Stores: Poppin, The Container Store
Ryan recommends: Poppin starter kit, $40, poppin.com; Poppin desktop set, $51, poppin.com
There may be some things you won’t be able to remember about college, but you’ll probably remember the music you listened to. So make sure you have the right gear to help create the ambience you want to remember your dorm life by.
Ryan says a wireless, Bluetooth enabled music system is key.
Brands: Stelle Tillar, Jawbone, Bowers & Wilkins
Ryan recommends: Jawbone JAMBOX Wireless speaker, $149.88, J&R Music and Computer World, 1 Park Row and jr.com
This compact, cute and portable speaker will amaze you with how loud it gets: the output capacity is 85 decibels. The JAMBOX is stylish and not only great for a room: It’s so light you can take it anywhere.