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Declare Your Style: Dorm Room Essentials

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Ah, the dorm room — the ultimate double-edged sword. On the one hand, this is your new home away from home, a chance to start fresh in a kind of comfortable purgatory between home life and complete independent adulthood. On the other hand, if you’re going to school at a typical college or university in the United States (and, well, most everywhere else) your lodgings are probably not going to be exactly premium.

There are absolutely ways to make these new less-than-comfortable surroundings into something resembling home — as long as you know what you’re up against. What’s always worked for me? That crucial pre-semester IKEA run-through: an afternoon or evening where you take your time meandering through the affordable retailer’s offerings and trying to figure out what they have there that can work where you’re headed.

Focus on the things IKEA does best: personality, storage and innovation. The key to decorating a dorm is focusing on things that are both temporary and statement-making — remember that you’ll have strict rules surrounding what you can and can’t do in your new space. But sharp dorm-room regulation can be the mother of creative decorating invention.

The obvious things you’ll be looking for in IKEA? Storage solutions, for sure — ways to make your tiny space (and closet, ugh) feel much bigger. Under-bed containers and closet organizational tools are essential buys. IKEA is also tops for textiles: the sheets are amazingly soft and durable, the duvet covers are colorful and fun, and the towels are also amazing. Don’t forget to grab a rug or two, which will add plenty of punch to your standard-issue dorm carpet. Want to also add some rustic charm? Grab IKEA’s signature faux sheepskin — great for use as a super-soft rug, a chair cushion or a little something extra on your bed.

One of my favorite little tricks is to buy small wall-mounted mirrors at IKEA and arrange them on the wall in random patterns using double-sided tape. These are a little more dynamic than whatever you’re going to grab at the campus poster sale, and they’re functional, too — mirrors add the illusion of more square footage in a tiny space, and you can use them to see yourself, of course. Best part? They easily peel off the wall at the end of the school year.

IKEA is so great for the extra little bits and bobs you didn’t realize you needed — picture frames, plants and the like. Oh, and don’t forget you’re going to college to work! Keep your eyes peeled for the desk accessories that will make studying and writing papers a total breeze.

Ultra pro tip? Do not skip over the children’s section! Here you’ll find some last-second accessories that are both whimsical and functional, perfect for your new abode. Keep your eyes open for sweet lamps and fun storage solutions that have a bit more personality than the ones marketed towards full-blown adults.

Remember, shopping to stock your dorm room should be fun! Take the time to wander and be creative. Good luck!

Want more? Check out College Confidential for more back to school style and Declare Your Style for dorm decorating tips and essentials.

WATCH: Ultimate College Bedroom Makeover

sponsored by IKEA

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