With Coastal Carolina University’s (CCU) residence halls opening for first-year students today and returning students making the big move back this weekend, the campus will soon be filled with a conclave of mini-interior designers.
As new and returning college students at CCU, as well as throughout the hallowed halls of Academia across the land, begin moving into residence halls in the coming weeks, the need to decorate a stylish pad to reflect their personal style and create a home away from home feeling comes into focus. However, what about students who feel they can’t channel their inner Genevieve Gorder or Todd Oldham?
While the idea of setting up a dorm room may seem daunting, the selection and styles that a variety of retail stores are offering can easily erase any fears that interior decorating-challenged students may have. Big box stores such as Target and Walmart, as well as department stores including Bed Bath & Beyond and jcpenney, have rolled out specialized sections catered specifically to the collegiate crowd.
Locally, at Coastal Grand Mall in Myrtle Beach, the jcpenney store greets shoppers entering th main entrance with a section dedicated to back to school and dorm room needs. Comforters, pillows, sheet sets, coffee makers, photo frames, microwaves, blankets, and much more are assembled in fun displays with coordinating colors and prints to entice students making the big move on campus.
Likewise, at the new Target near the S.C. 544 and U.S. 17 Bypass interchange, pennant-style signs direct shoppers to the back of the store to the College Stuff section.
According to Debra Schweiss, the Divisional Trend Director for jcp Home, jcpenney’s Back to School collection is a reflection of fall 2012’s most popular trends: bold colors, plaids, and global- inspired prints such as chevrons, stripes, and medallions.
But where to begin? For college students near and far who wish to decorate their room in style, shopping for pieces that are fun, functional, and affordable is the key; however, keep in mind that universities and residences halls, like the ones at CCU, have rules and regulations which will have an impact.
Dorm Living 101
When first-time students at CCU move in today what they will find is essentially a blank canvas.
Steve Harrison, Director of Student Housing at CCU, says sprawled out between 10 halls on main campus and the 46 that make up University Place, students living on campus are provided with the fundamental amenities - a 15-feet-by-11-feet room stocked with an XL twin bed, dresser, desk, and desk chair. Creamy white block walls and natural wood furniture allow students to decorate and individualize their spaces in which, depending on their room assignment, they live in privately or in suites with two or three other students.
While the freedom of being away from home and striking out on your own is enticing, there are a few do’s and don’ts when residing on campus. Harrison weighs in with a few basic tips and advice for CCU students set to decorate their dorm rooms.
Don’t bring extra furniture and large appliances. Space is a premium, especially if you’re sharing a room.
“We don’t allow students to bring in extra furniture. If you bring in a little chair or bookcase from (big box stores), those items are usually fine,” Harrison says. “But futons, or your dad’s old La-Z-Boy, big (pieces of furniture) like that can’t come, partially because of space and because that’s how bed bugs and other infestations get introduced to our community.”
Don’t consider modifying the walls.
“You can’t alter our walls,” Harrison says. He advises students to use adhesive hooks and putty to hang posters and pictures, because larger items, such as flat panel televisions are not permitted to be hung due to expense and time.
Do make the space your own, but remember you’re not the only one who has to live with it.
“We want students to make the room their own, and make the best use of the room they can. Color and personality are good, but we ask students to be cognizant that the things that they hang up might not represent them in the best light,” he says. “Think about all the people who are going to come and see you where you live, whether it’s dirty or an inappropriate message, people are going to read things into who you are based on what you put on the walls and what you put on your desk.”
Do some recognizance.
Harrison says the smartest option when moving in is to buy certain items for the room once you’ve scoped out the layout, inventoried what your roommates have brought, and what you think will need.
“The best thing is always to get here, take some measurements, see what the room is like, see what you really need, and then hook the place up,” he says.
Harrison says he has witnessed many students and their families lug loads of stuff to move-in day only to have to pack it back up to return home because it didn’t fit or wasn’t needed.
A Study in Design
So with little space and armed with a list of do’s and don’ts for dorm room living, how can a student make his/her living space a reflection of individual tastes and wants? Very easily just by enlisting a little cash and a big imagination. Since retailers are rolling out full lines of dorm décor, students about to embark on their first, second or even fourth year of dorm living can stock up on multi-functioning items with style to create their own comfortable and welcoming home away from home.
To create a stylish room, the bed is a prime starting point. As the largest piece of furniture in a room, it easily becomes the focal point; therefore, investing in a bedding set that offers bold bursts of color or a chic print is a great way to add style to a rather blah room. While shopping, keep in mind that CCU, like many universities, provides students with Twin XL mattresses, so make sure to buy accordingly; these mattresses are the same width of a standard twin but their lengths are extended five inches longer.
For guys, a dark palette infused with plaids or blocks of color are great bedding style options. Guys should find comfort in the Maxwell Comforter XL Twin Set with Sheets in Black Plaid ($45, JCPenney). The set includes a comforter, matching sheet set, pillowcase, and sham. The black, dark grey and white windowpane plaid pattern looks manly while easy to keep clean thanks to all the pieces being machine washable. Accent the bedding with a bright red toss pillow or structured pillow such as the Shagalicious Bedrest Decorative Pillow in Red ($18, JCPenney).
Girls will adore the Room Essentials Twin Extra Long Floral Bed Set in Blue ($49.99, Target). The aqua, black and white floral pattern adds a feminine touch without being overly girly. The set, which is machine washable, includes a comforter, sham, as well as a black and white striped sheet set and pillowcase. For a pop of color, add a yellow toss pillow or aqua blanket.
For a more colorful option, guys or gals could also invest in the Room Essentials Twin Extra Long Chevron Bed Set in Multi Chevron ($49.99, Target). The set contains a comforter, sheet set, pillowcase and sham. It’s bright, mulit-colored chevron design will add punch to a neutral wall and floor palette, especially when coordinating additional pillows, blankets or storage pieces in a variety of bright colors.
When shopping for a bed set, investing in another sheet set (i.e. backup) is never a bad idea. Opt for the Room Essentials Twin XL Jersey Sheet Set ($19.99, Target), which is available in an assortment of colors to match or accent your bedding.
•Storage with Style
In a dorm room, space is a premium. To make optimal use of the room and to add some style, invest in a few multi-functional storage pieces in bright, coordinating colors.
Kick up your feet and store away office supplies or extra socks when enlisting a Storage Ottoman in Orange ($17,Target). The ottoman is also available in red, black, teal, or a black and white floral pattern, and the square 15-inch-by-15-inch-by-15-inch micro suede ottoman is compact and perfect for tucking away next to a bed or propping up a pizza box during a study group get together.
With multiple classes and activities, having space to store supplies, clothes, or books neatly is easier with the ClosetMaid Cubeicals 8 Cube Organizer in Espresso ($51.99, Target) or the
ClosetMaid Cubeicals 9 Cube Organizer in White ($51.99, Target). Depending on the space available in your dorm room, these cubed shelving units offer plenty of storage options thanks to their multiple shelves and add-on drawer options, the ClosetMaid Cubeicals Fabric Drawers ($7.99 each, Target), wich are available in a variety of colors. Enlist a variety of fabric drawers to tuck away art supplies or T-shirts and keep some shelves open to gain easy access to textbooks or to decorate with a picture frames.
While most meals will take place at the cafeteria or out of a pizza box, keeping a few kitchen essentials on hand is not only wise, but can add a fun element to your dorm room décor.
CCU students are allowed one small refrigerator less than 2.0 cubic feet per dorm room, as well as one microwave less than 1,000 watts. While you can warm up hot water in a microwave, a stronger option may be called for thanks to all-night study sessions and a demanding schedule. CCU doesn’t allow coffee pots due to their open heating element; however, single serve coffeemakers, like Keurigs, are permitted. If you can’t invest in a Keurig, opt for a Cooks Single Serve Coffeemaker in Red ($20, JCPenney) to brew up a cup of java instead. It can brew directly into a travel mug, such as the Aladdin Grey Travel Mug ($9.99, Target), which you can personalize with photos or artwork, so you can head off to class in a flash.
Having durable tableware and serving ware in your dorm can come in handy for snacking and digging into a bowl of cereal before classes. Opt for the Room Essentials 16 Piece PolyPro Dinnerware Set in Teal ($13.99, Target) for all your needs. The modern design and teal shade of the plates, cups, bowls, and pasta bowls will look appealing when neatly stacked together and accented with the Room Essentials Origami Crane Napkin Holder in White ($5.99, Target).
During study sessions, snack in style with these fun serving ware pieces that are printed with food designs on the inside. Pour chips and pretzels into the Present Time Potato Chip Print Large Acrylic Bowl ($11.99, Target), or keep the Present Time Pizza Pie Print Large Acrylic Tray ($12.99, Target) on hand for serving up those midnight cravings.
•Adding a Finishing Touch
Adding small distinct items such as personal photos and trendy, functional pieces are a great way to round out the style of your room to make it feel cozier.
Instead of those boring-looking extension cords for plugging lights and alarm clocks into, opt for an amusing piece like the Kikkerland Electro Man Multi Outlet in Black ($17.99,Target) instead. Shaped like a man, the arms and legs are the electrical outlets, with the cord sprouting out of his head.
Hosting study sessions and movie nights are a great way to bond with new friends. To keep a few extra seating options around without them taking up room or looking dull, opt for a chair like the Room Essentials Dish Popcorn Chair in Red ($29.99, Target). Styled like a papasan chair, the big round cushion and seat are comfortable for lounging; afterwards it folds up for easy storage. Or try the Room Essentials Bungee Chair in Black/Grey ($29.99, Target). The seat design consists of bouncy bungee cords in a round webbed pattern on a black metal frame. Use it for gaming sessions or for relaxing when studying - it too folds up for easy storage.
While you may require additional lighting in your dorm room, not just any old lamp will do. For a modern option, try the Room Essentials Acrylic Table Lamp in Clear ($16.99, Target). Its rectangular clear base made of acrylic goes easily with any décor, and the open base allows you extra room to highlight your favorite photo or art piece. Or, for a lamp that will keep the discussion lively, like the Conversation Bubble Dry Erase Novelty Light ($14.99, Target). Shaped like a speech bubble, this light is comprised of a dry erase board and will allow your messages or reminders for your roommate to shine in the dark of night.
Dry erase boards are not only practical in a dorm room; they can also serve as wall décor. The WallPops by Jonathan Adler Dry Erase Frame in Green Enamel ($16.99, Target) is a stylish way to leave a message, or opt for a more personal selection like the Room Essentials Two Opening Picture Frame w/ Dry Erase and Chalkboard in Ebony ($14.99, Target). While it features a dry erase board and corkboard for pinning information to, it also designed with a square mirror and two 4-x-6 photo openings for adding pictures of family and friends.
CCU residence halls do have cinder block walls, so adding prints or wall canvases to the wall with a 3M hook is the easiest and most efficient way to take the walls from drab to fab. For a dose of daily inspiration, put up the Imagine Create Live Wall Canvas ($22, JCPenney). Its simple black and white design and motivating “Imagine Your Dream, Create Your Happiness, Live Your Life” quote will provide an extra bit of encouragement, especially during finals.
The Guys’ Guide
While the fairer sex may spend more time and effort contemplating how to decorate their digs, guys don’t have to completely ignore the interior design of their dorm room to look cool.
For dudes looking to decorate a dorm room that is female-friendly without looking girly, there are easy ways to create a relaxing and stylish pad. Robin Roberts, Owner and President of The Palmetto Group, a firm in Myrtle Beach that designs and builds interiors, offers helpful tips and advice.
•Keep it Neutral
Decorating with neutral shades is an easy and fail-proof way for guys to decorate a dorm room.
“Use neutrals - tans and creams,” Roberts says. “Keep colors neutral because you might not have an exciting color, but you won’t have an offensive color either.”
Black and tan, cream and chocolate, and navy and cream are color palettes that easily go well with small pops of color or can highlight a piece of artwork. While having the freedom to put up whatever art you would like, Roberts advises guys to choose wisely.
“No posters of hot girls on the wall. You don’t want to instantly make a girl feel self-conscious when she walks into your dorm,” he says. “The only girl that needs to be the center of attention at that moment is the one that you want in to be in your room.”
Be careful of magazines lying around, too. Roberts says you should pick ones that make you look cerebral and nice.
“Have your magazines out on your coffee table, thinking about the subject matter on the cover and the impression that it’s going to make,” he says. “Also, no porno magazines, and hide the porn sites on your (Web) browser.”
Keep it Clean
While it’s easy to be a slob, it’s not attractive. Maintaining a clean room is an easy way to keep your room looking stylish and pulled together.
“There should be a place for everything and everything should be in its place,” Roberts advises. “If you’re a huge gamer, that’s OK, but keep it all neat and in order. Don’t let it look like you went through a 12-hour gaming marathon.”
Dirty clothes can be a deal breaker, too. “Spend the 20 bucks and get a decent hamper with a lid. No one wants to smell or see your dirty clothes,” he says.
And as for bedding, guys should have two sheet sets, one clean and one on the bed, especially if you’re “entertaining” - if you know what we mean.
•Set the Mood
Mood lighting is essential for making the design of your room female-friendly. Since candles are forbidden in residence halls, Roberts advises, “Find some kind of lamp with a light that you can dim. Everybody looks better in dim light.”
Another key element to outfitting a dorm room is music.
“Find a cheap guitar, learn a few chords and keep it in the corner of the room,” he says. Or, a stereo or iPod and speaker set can not only be an addition to your entertainment area, it’s also perfect for setting the mood if you’re inviting a lady over.