By now, most college students are settled in their dorm rooms.
But that doesn't mean things are where they should be, or that the place looks good yet.
When we settled into our dorm room some 30 years ago, we found vinyl tile flooring, acoustic ceiling tile, off-white walls, two small closets, matching built-in dresser-desk combos and two desk chairs. There were two twin beds, a large window with vintage plastic accordion-style window covering and a ceiling-mounted fluorescent light fixture.
You may actually recognize that as your own canvas today.
Here are some ideas to help you and your roommate, now good pals, work together to make your place feel more like home. (And many would work in kids' bedrooms back at home, too.)
Still have some random piles of stuff you don't know what to do with?
Think about using things that can serve two purposes. A suitcase can double as a night stand and as a terrific source of storage. A sturdy trunk placed at the end of a bed can act as a neat occasional table for books, magazines, blankets or even as a TV stand. As with the night stand, the trunk can also provide ample storage.
Small, stackable, hollow plastic cubes are decorative and also offer plenty of storage.
And just be happy that MP3 players now can help you avoid the need to store lots of CDs or, imagine this, LPs and tapes!
Colorful sheets and a mix of pillows in different shapes, sizes and fabrics can give you a makeover in one afternoon. Agree on a scheme and a budget with your roommate and hit the store. Plus, the right pillows can turn your bed into a daybed-style couch.
You also can warm up a tired-looking, cold, vinyl floor with an inexpensive carpet remnant, area rug or a couple of colorful throw rugs - since retro is in, the shaggier the rug, the better.
Your housing officials may not allow paint. But you could possibly add inexpensive faux wood paneling along one wall or as a wainscot with chair rail can give the space a real homey feel. Use super-duty double-stick tape to fasten the material to the walls to prevent making nail holes that must later be repaired. Use a hair dryer to remove the tape at year-end.
Installing your own ready-made, cut-to-fit window treatment can give the space a lift and help block out light so that you can sleep late after 'studying' into the wee hours.
We have yet to hear anyone complain of having too much storage. An inexpensive do-it-yourself closet organization system will make the most of wardrobe storage space and perhaps eliminate the need for a chest of drawers, thus creating more floor space in the room - and maybe a place for a chair.
A potted plant
A little greenery can camouflage a blemished wall and add a touch of beauty. Just don't forget to water it.