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Best tips for decorating dorm rooms with style, storage

Cold walls. No-frills desk. Bare floors. Long, skinny bed. “Welcome to college.” Your first assignment is to turn this clinical room into your new home.

“It’s really very important that students be able to personalize their dorm room. How they decorate the room reflects the identity of who they are and helps them feel at home on campus,” said Matthew Brown, director of housing and dining services at Arizona State University. The average dorm room for two measures 12 feet by 15 feet, a size that makes storage as important as style.

Thankfully, there has never been a better selection of storage merchandise, from colorful plastic containers and cork boards to hanging bed pockets. And retailers eager to cash in on the dorm market offer plenty of August sales.

Before shopping, learn what’s provided. Typically, colleges furnish dorms with an extra-long single bed, dresser, desk and chair. Also, check to make sure what’s allowed, from wall decor to appliances.

The next step is to prepare a shopping list.

“The best way to shop is by being prepared and organized. Start the list with the essentials, then add the extras,” said Kelly Frieze, manager of Ikea in Tempe.

Every list should include storage containers, especially those designed to fit under beds. Bet on there not being enough space in the dresser and closet for clothing, athletic gear and other personal items.

If sharing a room, reach out to your roommate before arriving on campus to avoid duplicating items such as a refrigerator or futon. It’s also a good idea to agree on a color scheme and style — boho, modern, industrial, cottage, beach or preppy.


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