1) Start planning early. Procrastination might have worked a few months ago when you were still a senior, but if you want to score the best deals for your dorm room, it’s never too early to start – supplies tend to sell out fast, especially in August. If you see cute stuff for your room anywhere, don’t wait until the last minute!
2) Know your room’s layout, size and measurements. This is especially important if you’re living in an apartment or a suite; I’ve seen many girls regret spending so much money on things they can’t even fit in their rooms. Many dorm rooms also vary in size, so make sure you check yours and what kinds of furniture come with it.
3) Target vintage stores and sample sales. A person’s room tends to reflect personality, so why fill your room with boring Target/Ikea products when your own taste is so much more unique and exciting? The best budget-friendly way to decorating your room is to take a stab at vintage stores – even if you don’t find the best pieces, they will still give you an inspiration. Not comfortable with used goods? Then try sample sale Web sites, such as One King’s Lane, Gilt Groupe and Rue La La, that give you huge discounts on designer products.
4) Bring things from home. Little things may not seem like much, but they can add up to a pretty ridiculous amount of money. Don’t assume that you need to have brand-new everything; bring whatever working stuff you have at home. Things like drawers, bookshelves and even cushions can save you a ton in the end.
5) Let there be lots of light. It’s 1 a.m., your roommate is going to bed, but you still have 10 more pages to write, and the library seems so far, far away. For situations like this (trust me, it’s bound to happen quite often), make sure to take at least two lamps (one for your desk and one next to your bed) for your late-night cram sessions.
6) Invest in electronics and bedding. The two things you should definitely splurge on are electronics and bedding. In order to avoid last-minute, technology-fail freak-outs, do invest in a high quality laptop and a printer. Same goes for your bedding; you’ll be taking them with you for the next four years, so they better be super soft, cozy and allergy-free.
7) Don’t leave your walls empty. Looking for an outlet to let your artistic side run free? Take full advantage of your walls by putting up anything from posters and pictures to collages and colorful rugs. Your walls will be the best place to express who you are to your new friends!
8) Don’t buy the entire organizer aisle. One of the worst mistakes freshmen tend to make is buying the entire organizer aisle, thinking that the more organizers they have, the more space they’ll save. Organizers help you make effective use of your space to some degree, but most of them end up taking up even more room than necessary. Small drawer dividers, under-the-bed boxes and shoe racks are good investments, but extra bookshelves, night stands and extra chests will be nothing but pain when you’re moving out.
9) Scour your favorite brand’s apartment section. As much as I love cruising through Urban Outfitter’s hipster-inspired accessories, I love spending quality time in their apartment section amongst the quilted cushions and quirky curtains. Quite a few brands have developed lifestyle and furniture lines based on their own designs and tastes, so check out your favorite store to update your room and your wardrobe all at once.