Cookie-cutter dorm rooms are nothing short of bland but with some creativity, those cinderblock walls will serve as a discreet backdrop to a cozy retreat where you’ll pull a few all-nighters while cramming for exams and nurture friendships that will extend well beyond university.
“Your room in residence is more than just four walls and a bed. It’s a creative space, productivity zone, networking empire and safe haven,” says Nicole Frankland, housing and residences communications specialist at the University of Waterloo. “Above all else, it’s home for the next eight months.”
Like other universities and colleges, the University of Waterloo encourages students to put their personal stamp on their rooms. “We strongly encourage our students to bring personal belongings that inspire them, comfort them and help them build their first home away from home,” Frankland says.
“The transition into university life can be just as challenging as academics. Photos, posters and small tokens from their home city or country can help create a sense of belonging that can help them thrive throughout their university career and beyond,” she says.
If you have one or more roommates or suitemates, talk with one another and decide who can bring what so you don’t end up with multiple TVs or microwaves. Maximizing your space is a must, Frankland reminds. Get creative with stackable storage containers, closet organizers, over-the-door shoe hangers, organizers and hooks.
Large wall calendars and whiteboards can help you stay productive, while area rugs, extra pillows, string lights and houseplants can keep you calm and comfortable. Don’t forget about all that space under your bed for storage, too.
While the University of Waterloo encourages students to treat their space like their own by rearranging furniture, for instance, it reminds them to respect and preserve the space and furniture for the next student who will call the room their home. “Double-sided adhesive makes moving out simple and doesn’t damage your poster or the walls in your room,” Frankland says.
When it comes to décor, parents should follow their son or daughter’s lead. “Going off to school often coincides with a time in their life when they’re really discovering who they are, so it’s a lot of fun when they can use décor as a means of self-expression to hone in on some of their interests, likes and dislikes,” says HomeSense design expert Tamara Robbins Griffith.
Bedding is an essential, and choices include fun and whimsical patterns like eyelash prints, French macaroons and florals. Modern geometrics, including chevrons and diamonds, and neutral colours like greys, reds and mustard are also on trend. “Dorm rooms don’t often have lounge space, so the bed becomes a daybed or sofa. Take the opportunity to layer it up with a few throw pillows,” Robbins Griffith says.
Accessories like a small scatter rug can add colour, texture and pattern. “Any baskets, laundry hamper, desk accessories and even caddies to take your toiletries to the bathroom down the hall will help you stay organized but there’s no reason they can’t also be fashionable as well as functional,” she says. “Often, there isn’t a ton of closet space so if things like towels are going to be on display, you want them to look nice.”
Back-to-school survey results
As part of its back-to-school campaign this year, IKEA surveyed students across the world to identify their needs, especially when it comes to small-space living that’s multi-functional and affordable. Here are some survey highlights:
• 92% enjoy comfort in their spaces
• 54% feel inspired by music when studying
• 19% don’t make it out of bed to study
• 67% claim to be most productive at night
• 28% like to eat while studying
• 40% own at least 5 pairs of sneakers
• 2% prefer to study on the floor
• 28% like to plan their day ahead
• 56% prefer to study at a desk
• 8% chat with friends while studying
• 13% use a chair to store their clothes