Not Your Mothers Dorm Room: Creating a Home Away from Home Featured

11 Jul 2017 Savannah Chilton
Caroline Medlen in her fully decorated dorm room as a freshman at the University of Alabama in 2015. Caroline Medlen in her fully decorated dorm room as a freshman at the University of Alabama in 2015. Caroline Medlen

There are no more secondhand sheets or posters stuck to off-white plaster walls. Dorm rooms everywhere are becoming more elaborate by the year, including here in Tuscaloosa.

Decorating a dorm room is the first thing a freshman gets to do when preparing for the next few years of their lives. And it seems that all summer long, incoming freshmen at The University of Alabama are browsing various websites and brick-and-mortar stores, looking to create their perfect, personal, home away from home.

When sophomore UA student Addison Hill decorated her dorm room, she had her mom to thank.

“My mom is a decorator, so she was really excited to get to decorate my room. Her main goal was to make it feel as homey as possible. I would find things on Pinterest and she would go to our local Home Goods and Dorm Sweet Dorm (Homewood, AL) to find similar items,” said Hill.

Does Hill have any advice for incoming freshmen about dorm room décor?

Organization is key in small spaces, like dorm rooms. Grab extra picture frames that can be filled with new photos as freshman year progresses.

“Get a hutch to go over your desk for extra storage,” she said. “Also, see if you can build things yourself for a personal touch.”

Dorms are no longer just a place to put your stuff and sleep. Meribeth Natchez thinks it is better to plan long term. 

“Since my daughter was rushing a sorority, we knew she may want to leave space for the sorority letters, or pictures with new friends. We made sure to get extra picture frames and extra hanging supplies to add to the room throughout the year,” Natchez said.  

For out-of-state freshmen, gathering all the necessary materials before move-in day can be a challenge – not to mention the expense of shipping everything to Tuscaloosa. 

Southern California native and Alabama student mother Barbra Eline has some advice for parents.

“There are many options for out of state students to make sure they have everything they want without spending a pretty penny on shipping everything for their entire room,” she said. “Save yourself the running around, and buy bigger items you know you will need online and have them shipped to the school.”

When it comes to decorating, some choose to leave it to the professionals. Freelance interior designer Krissy Bunn has tips and tricks for all the incoming freshman and their mothers.

Adding pops of color and monogramed pillows or headboards can help to tie a two-person dorm room together.

“I would take full advantage of the bed risers that dorms offer to students. These help tremendously. Hanging closet organizers, over-the-door hooks and a storage ottoman to help getting up to the tall bed help,” Bunn said.

And what about coordinating your personal look and taste with that of your new roommate or suite mates?

“Keep the bedding simple and neutral. To add more color and tie the two sides together, try a monogramed pillow or headboard,” said Bunn. 

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Druid City Living (DCL) is Tuscaloosa, Alabama's premier community newspaper, covering the great people, places and activities of the area.



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