Off to College- Dorm Decor 101


YouTube-Animal House video

August is around the corner and for some of you, this will be your first time of preparing a child to leave the nest. per se.

 For  all the young parents: we are not going to be discussing the first day of kindergarten in this post.
You have been secretly preparing yourself and your child for at least 2 years of preschool and camps so you should be able to detach your child from your hip. The best advice I can give you as a mother of 4 adult children, is don’t have a really big smile on your face when they walk out the door, because your little ones will think they are missing out on  something fun and they will end of going to the school nurse.
It can also backfire on parents who look sad and worrisome too. Your child will sense your dread, and be fearful of what lies behind the school door. And because you have such a sense of dread, and don’t want your little ones to fail for the next 13 years, teachers, principals, and college admission officers will know you by your first name.

This is about preparing your child to live on their own and surviving dorm decor dilemmas. This is a crash course in CollegeDecorating 101.

Watching your son or daughter go off to college the first year is an emotional time for both parents and child.
But don’t worry, once they return after spending a year away, you will begin to pack their bags in June.
Trust me, it is okay to sing a little song (As in the title of this post) when August rolls around  their sophomore year. They will be packing with the same amount of glee in their hearts too.

I always cried when I dropped my children at the dorm their freshman year. Not because I was going to miss them, I just worried they needed me to take care of them. Clean their room for them. Change their sheets once a week. And make sure they were studying and not partying too much.

As parents, our only job is to teach our children how to create a  comfortable nest with parental financing.
If left to their own accord, the first nest could be a disaster.
This is where I come in………..

Decorating is a “Nesting trait” but to some this is a learned skill. Birds decorate their nests to attract other birds and to prepare a home for their little ones. To help you and you child prepare for nesting please download the great checklist I found on

Dorm Room Checklist

Rule #1- Girls decorate in pairs!

Let’s face it, girls go to the bathroom as a group,so its inevitable that they will decorate as a pair.
Not unless she is an art major. She needs to express herself alone,her way.
Girl’s prepare their nest differently than boys and for this simple reason, you will be spending more money to help her achieve her design style.
Girls are eager to pre- pick a roommate on FaceBook so that they can coordinate the room decor. It is all about the matchy matchy thing, we designers hate. Having a predetermined roommate allows your daughter to decorate the entire room in a theme, color, or style two people agree upon. It gives the room a unified symmetrical design style.

If she is going blindly into roommate  limbo, she will only be allowed to decorate at 50% speed, which only covers her side of the room, and I pray her new roomie appreciates her decorating talents. This is a half done my way design style.

Rule #2- Girls need lots of wall space
Girls use photos, posters, jewelry, mirrors, and cork boards (to add more photos) as wall decor. Invest heavily in thumbtacks, little cup hooks, clothespins, and masking tape. 
As an interior designer, I notice many of my young female clients hate wallpaper. Could be they are experiencing wall decor burnout from their college days……They will ease back into wallpaper and wall decor in their 30’s. They just need a decade to rest their eyes.
This is not a REAL dorm room. Good marketing job though..


Rule #3- Boys are different design stylists!

Exhibit A: Male college student

We do not need to invest in a lot of dorm decor for our sons. They are a fine example of minimalism, but you begin to glimpse at  Pre-Man Cave design styles when they head off to college. This will follow them after they graduate. My son just graduated from college lives with a Frat brother in Buckhead and lives in a “bought it on Craig’s Listdecorated apartment.
I was trying to help him decorate and purchase furniture for him. He refused any assistance from me,(which as insulting as it sounds, was a really healthy attitude as an adult) When I found a cheap sofa from Joss and Main, his exact words were, “I’m not about to spend $600.00 for a sofa!”
He can’t afford my design services…..

Some are really good at Themed Decor where college banners, college colors reign supreme. They are the ones who attend football games after attending tailgating parties.

Boys  do Sports Themes:

Movie Themes:

Not a dorm room, but an obsessed fan

  Naked People on Poster Wall Themes: (just imagine it..)

and some are good at Good Party Decor:


Rule #4- It will never look that way again until Parent’s Weekend……….
As parents, a neat room doesn’t exist with many of our children so please do not complain in front of their roommates when you visit on parent’s weekend. If you do, they will move far away from you when they graduate. You will have to pay for airfare and this will give them ample time to clean or hire a cleaning service.
Since some of our children spent years being picked up after now is not the time to teach them to clean up after themselves. This is your fault, not theirs.
For the children who are neat, and get their own private bathroom, please keep plenty of toilet paper in your bathroom. Your bathroom will be used a lot by guests, and even your roommates. I speak of the truth.

Messy Dorm Room

There are many great little blogs about college life, college decor, college bedding,and great internet sites for shopping. It is really great to purchase and have items shipped if your child is attending a college out of state, or as in California and Texas, just ship the stuff!!!

Good luck to all my freshman parents! Would love to hear about your child’s freshman decor . Send before and after photos!!!

We love knowing all our children are designed challenged or in the wrong major if they are really good at it!

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