Whether you’re on your way to a university dorm, renting a place with a roommate, or on your own for the first time, creating that ‘home away from home’ feeling of familiarity and coziness will make transitioning from living with your mama to going solo that much more survivable and enjoyable.
Starting college or university is a cash cruncher, and typically eats away at any budget left for home decor — but I have some great tips and essentials that will help get you started, and won’t break the bank.
HOOKS & HANGERS
When closet space is at a premium, use open wall space in stairwells, entries, and the backs of doors to hang funky hooks and hangers for jackets, bags, and so forth. Get your stuff up off the floor for a cleaner, more open feel each time you come home.
Cubes, grids, and anything stackable are great items for stashing books, CDs, shoes, and even miscellaneous items when tucked into stylish baskets or colourful bins. The less permanent and more flexible a piece can be, the more you can make it suit your needs. Ikea, Walmart, Superstore, Target, and Home Depot all have different varieties of lightweight, modular storage solutions for the home, office, apartment, and dorm room.
An excellent way to stow blankets, bedding, magazines, remotes, and perform double duty as extra seating when friends or guests are over, ottomans with built-in storage are versatile, and savvy looking. Stay away from the solid microfibre pieces, and instead opt for a thicker, more patterned fabric or leather to hide wear and tear, soils and stains.
There’s no better way to make a room feel larger and airier than by adding a mirror or two to your spaces. Reflecting light and mirroring opposite images and spaces, mirrors give you the impression you’re living larger than you really are.
LOTS OF LIGHTING
Typically dorms are outfitted with the dreaded overhead fluorescent light fixture: neither fabulous, nor flattering, fluorescent lighting is hard on the eyes and emits a cool, and often dingy spectrum. That’s why table and floor lamps are truly important when it comes to making your spaces warm and inviting. Use them to light side tables, a reading area, to study at night, or even act as an extra task light on the kitchen countertop. A pair of hand-me-downs can easily be sprayed out in the colour of your choice, and shades can be changed out for something more modern looking.
If you can’t paint your walls, find some really colourful works of art or photographs that can be hung around to brighten things up instead. Area rugs, hallways runners, toss pillows, drapery panels, bed linens, wall hangings, fabric wrapped canvases, and painted furniture are great ways to infuse character and yumminess in drab and standard rental spaces.
Most dorms and rental units come only with the typical rod-and-shelf closet system — such a waste of usable space. There’s nothing more claustrophobic than heaps of clothing and storage items strewn around a small space, so head out to any of the larger box stores within the city for one or two of the adjustable systems that come with multiple shelves, rods, and even pull-out bins to get more bang for your buck.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 30, 2014