As late August arrives, many of us are finally getting into the slower summer pace and enjoying time with family and friends, while spending leisurely beach days and barbecues in the back yard. Sometimes in August the farthest things from our minds are the details of back-to-school shopping and planning for the looming, busy fall. However, with college freshmen leaving earlier and earlier to attend summer orientation sessions, August can become a busy month to prepare for college-bound kids who are leaving the “nest.”
In years past, decorating a dormitory was nothing more than merely stacking some plastic crates for storage and grabbing your favorite quilt and pillow to bring to school. Times have certainly changed, with more products on the market geared for dorm life and catering to design-savvy young adults. Most colleges offer 3D panoramic views of your kid’s dorm with specifications of the room size to boot, making it easier to plan ahead. Some colleges even sell their own bedding and curtains, which, for a fee, can be delivered to the dormitory for your child’s arrival. There are many websites that offer entire room plans and products with the simple click of a computer key, and other programs dedicated to registering college kids for their dorm “must-haves” similar to a wedding registry. It is like interior design heaven with mix and match sheets and bedding sets offering different aesthetics from modern to traditional in style, allowing kids to personalize their spaces.
Locally, we are fortunate to have quite a few shopping options for dorm decorating on the East End. The new, year-round Serena & Lily shop in Wainscott offers bedding, furniture and accessories, and with its offerings of vibrant colors and modern designs, it is a terrific place to pick up dorm necessities. I am partial to East Hampton’s Roberta Freymann and her Roller Rabbit collection because the exotic patterns and interesting color combinations would pack a lot of style into a drab dormitory space. Even T.J. Maxx in Bridgehampton Commons has bargain items for decorating, and we managed to pick up an entire Lacoste towel set emblazed with the iconic green alligator on fluffy white towels.
For dorm wall art, there are myriad options for peel-and-stick wallpaper and decal art. I was pleasantly surprised with the choices on the shopping website Etsy, where there are reasonably priced, temporary wallpaper styles to spiff up a dorm room. These temporary wallpapers are the latest craze in the interior design market, with options from graphic patterns to forest scenes. For a more high-end option, local interior designer Libby Langdon sells her very own collection of peel-and-stick wallpaper in chevron and other pattern designs. This wallpaper is perfect for a dormitory, since you simply peel it and adhere it to the wall. With an easy peel-off option, it is removed without leaving any residue.
Websites such as the Container Store and Pottery Barn Dorm offer check lists for parents and students about many of the items that will be needed for their new, independent life away from home. Chain stores such as HomeGoods, IKEA, Horchow and Target offer stylish products for the bargain shopper, as well. There are entire visual boards dedicated to dorm decorating on sites like Pinterest, which offer links to online buying options. These websites offer bath caddies, stacking crates, curtains, mini refrigerators, storage trunks, shelving, adhesive hooks and many other items that will help young people feel comfortable in their new home.
To me, outfitting my daughter’s dormitory has been great fun. It has given me a constructive way to remain involved in her increasingly hectic “life away,” to collaborate on insuring her style and comfort, and to give me peace of mind knowing she will have a cheerful space in her new college environment. If I am honest with myself, however, I must admit we don’t want her room to be too gorgeous because we hope she comes home to visit often!