How many of you have a son or daughter or grandchild that is heading off to college? This is a good time to let young people define their design style. I’ve seen so many parents in stores picking out things for their kids while the kids are sometimes giving input, but more often they are busy texting or talking on their cell phone.


The dorm room is going to be their home away from home and it should be an exciting and comfortable place. Let the room reflect who they are and what they are passionate about. If they have a collection find a way to display a part of that collection with shelving or a shadow box. There is so much available to make a room special. I recommend bold colors and decals for the wall. The decals can be removed and if you can’t paint the walls use bold colors as window treatments and bed spreads. Accessories like funky pillows and throw rugs can be fun.

Stores like Kmart, Target, Wal-Mart and Big Lots have departments just for back to school. One of the must have things for a dorm room, or any bedroom is your ottoman that is also a storage unit. You can use this to store blankets, sheets and towels. Make sure your student has a laundry hamper and plenty of hangers for their clothes. Drawer organizers are a good idea and adequate lighting to study by.

Dorm rooms at some schools are a lot different than we went to school. Some schools offer suites and private bathrooms. But you could end up in that rectangular box with two beds and two dressers. Be prepared to become creative. If you don’t have room for a table pick up a few tray tables so you don’t have to sit your food on your lap.

Make a list of the things you will really miss when you are away from home. A microwave oven, a mini refrigerator and television will top the list. You will need a laptop, DVD player and a stereo. Put some picture frames and an alarm clock on the list, remember mom will not be there to wake you up and you just might want to look at pictures of your family and your favorite pet.

You’ll need something to eat with if you don’t eat in the dining hall, so cutlery is a must along with paper towels, laundry soap and sponges to clean up. That’s right you have to keep the place clean. And please take an iron and small ironing board with you. I can’t stand to see young people walking around in wrinkled clothes.

Parents, it is a good idea to get your children in the habit of doing their own laundry well before they head off to school, so they are used to washing and ironing their own wardrobe. Keep in mind when buying dorm and class supplies, keep your receipts, once they are in the dorm they may find that the beanbag chair they “had to have” won’t fit in their room. Return it rather forcing it to fit in a tiny space.

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