Friday, May 25, 2018
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Retailers help college students personalize their dorm rooms


Dana Thomas, left, and Jewel Perry, right, sophomores at University of Toledo, sit in a remodeled single dorm room in MacKinnon Hall.

The Blade/Amy E. Voigt
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For as long as college students have been living on campus, the have faced a residential dilemma: how do you make your dorm room feel like home?

Heading off to college and moving away from home can be an exciting experience, but without the familiarity of your family and favorite trinkets it‘s easy for homesickness to set in. Having your dorm room resemble a cinder block cell doesn’t help.

It‘s no secret that dorm rooms are far from glamorous with bare walls, cement floors and dingy bulletin boards; nothing like the cozy bedroom you grew up in. Decorating your dorm room can play an important role in defining your early college experience.

“If [students] are truly turning [dorm room] into their homes, they are embracing that community, their suite mates and the campus,” said Erin Thomas, assistant director of residential marketing and communications at the University of Toledo. “Studies show that those are the students who have higher [grade point averages], as well as higher graduation and retention rates.”

Many students will be spending more time in a dorm than at home, so it’s important they feel comfortable in the space.

“It’s about functional things that also bring some comfort to the space,” Ms. Thomas said. “Small couches for the common space area, where they will gather with other people. Streamline slim hangers, because it allows them to get that much more stuff in the closet. They‘re used to having their own space and all of their stuff. The more they can bring, the more it feels like home.“

Retailers have already rolled out their lines of college dorm room must-haves, with many featuring bright and colorful bedding with bold prints and designs, with towels, electronics, appliances and accent pieces to match.

”Young students tend to enjoy expressing their personalities, so having a wide range of colors and options is important,“ said Shannon Mason, trend expert at JCPenney. ”Colors, prints and patterns are often inspired by fashion trends.“

Products developers are capitalizing on the lack of space in dorms, by offering mini size appliances, including coffee makers, slow cookers and deep fryers. Versatile pieces, like trunks and cube-shaped ottomans are always a hit, experts say.

”Any item that can do double duty is a win-win. Examples include poufs which can provide extra seating and if you throw on a tray, voila!, you now have a side table,“ Ms. Mason said. ”Reversible bedding and pattern mixing are stylish ways to add pop and personality to your dorm room without breaking the bank.“

Students will have to think outside of the box to maximize space. Products like over-the-door racks and under the bed bins make the task achievable.

”Utilizing multi-functional bed risers that have an AC Outlet and USB Charger can help to take full advantage of the under bed space while also providing a grounded charging station,“ said Leah Drill, spokesman for Bed Bath & Beyond. ”Over-the-door is a great place to maximize space with a mirror, shoe rack, cap storage, an extra closet rod or hamper.“

Do-it-yourselfers have taken to sites like Pinterest to get ideas on how to personalize dorm spaces. In addition to posters, students are creating original and functional wall art to liven up their rooms.

”They’re taking things like picture frames and [repurposing] them. They‘ll add some art work and hooks, and have a nice piece to hang keys on,“ Ms. Thomas said. ”Wipe off message boards, shower caddies, you’ll always see those things in the rooms. Those are classics.“

Contact RoNeisha Mullen at: or 419-724-6133.

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