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Tips for sprucing up your university digs

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If your idea of decorating your dorm room involves buying a new duvet cover and slapping a poster up on the wall, then think again.

Bermudian-based home decorators Oneka Benn Schwartz and Louisa Freisenbruch have some better ideas for how to affordably spruce up your university digs.

“A dorm room doesn't have to be the dull, lifeless, cold room that will probably greet you on your arrival at university,” said Mrs Freisenbruch, the founder of The Creative Bug.

“[It's possible to] make your room a warm and inviting space where you and your newfound friends will want to hang out — and where you can enjoy studying of course.”

Here are their suggestions:

Focus on the bed.

Since most dorm rooms are tiny shared spaces one of the main areas will be your bed, according to Mrs Benn Schwartz. She encourages young people to make a “style statement” with their linens. “Draw from your fashion sense when picking out your bedding,” she explained. “A lot of places will have long cold winters that tend to be grey and gloomy. Choose a colour pallet and print that uplifts your mood and makes you happy. For a colourful duvet set and coordinating sheet sets, places like Overstock, Amazon and Wayfair have tons of options. I found both five and ten piece bed in a bag sets online for under $100.”

Mrs Benn Schwartz also recommends a website called Dormify. The site lets you select from its menu of decorated dorm rooms and then buy the entire room in one click of the mouse, if you so wish.

Invest in your personal comfort.

Instead of sleeping on a rock hard bed for the next eight months, Mrs Freisenbruch suggests buying a mattress topper so you get a good night's rest. “These can make even the most uncomfortable bed feel like sleeping on a cloud,” she said.

Take a piece of the Island with you.

Prone to getting home sick? Mrs Benn Schwartz recommends getting a map of Bermuda or local postcards to design your space.

“Places like The Island Shop and Sail On have fun postcards and original artwork that will remind you of home,” she said. “You can also do a little DIY project inspired by Bermuda. Place about an inch to two of sand at the bottom of an acrylic cup or mason jar and stick your pens and pencils in it as homage to Bermuda.”

Decide on a colour scheme.

The more clear you are on which colours you like, the easier it will be to pick out art or decor items to match your room. Mrs Freisenbruch admitted some of her favourite colour combinations for males right now included grey/navy blue, red/white/blue, red/grey or navy/orange/grey. For girls she likes aqua/orange, pink/orange or just a palette of softer pastels accented with some brighter shades. Not sure which colours to go with? Pinterest is a great place to go for inspiration and might even point you towards some unique colour combinations that weren't even on your radar.

Make use of every inch of space.

Whether you're in a dorm room or staying in your first apartment, space tends to be a little tight when you're a university student. Mrs Benn Schwartz urges young people to think smart when it comes to storage and organisation. She said: “Have your night stand double as both a place for a table lamp as well as storage. Ikea has great colourful kitchen carts that can be used as a night stand and also offer loads of storage without eating up too much real estate in your already cramped dorm room.” Another idea? Look for a trunk or storage ottoman that can also serve as seating for when guests come over. Or why not invest in some bed risers? These little tools are great for creating additional storage under your bed, she said.

Find basics in white.

Sure you're going to want to inject lots of colour into your room, but it actually makes a lot of sense to invest in some plain white bedding as well. That way you can just add throw pillows and throw blankets in your accent colours and don't have to buy everything from scratch when you decide on a new colour palette. Mrs Freisenbruch says pillows are also an easy way to make your space more comfortable for you and your friends. “By adding plenty of throw pillows you can actually make your bed into a kind of couch/day bed for sitting on during the day,” she explained. “Remember to buy cushions and throws with different textures to add some interest. By choosing white bedding, you can use it for years to come and it will be easily washable.”

Brighten up your space.

There's nothing more depressing than a dark, dimly lit room. Make your room much more inviting by purchasing a lamp or two.

Mrs Benn Schwartz suggests looking for a table lamp with a brightly coloured lampshade for an added pop. She designs her own line of lamp shades at the Island Shop.

Or for a more ethereal and fun look try attaching some fairy lights to the wall, Mrs Freisenbruch said. She encourages young people to stay away from very dark colours and dark furniture or rugs. These can absorb a lot of light in a room and make it feel gloomy. For those stuck with their furniture, try lightening up the space with the help of one or more mirrors. Not only will they make your room feel bigger, they will also reflect the light and brighten the space, the designer explained.

Personalise it.

Forget generic art and posters. Instead try and create a gallery wall with photos of your family members, friends, pets and favourite places. Hang them up inside different frames of all shapes and sizes. Ikea is a great place to buy inexpensive ones. You can also buy some spray paint to give your frames some colour, Mrs Freisenbruch said.

Don't just limit it to pictures. You can also spruce up your wall space by adding fun sayings and images that represent you and your personality, Mrs Benn Schwartz said. “There are tons of free printable websites where you can download and print out cool images that you can use to decorate your space,” she explained.

Find decor items that double as art.

Mrs Benn Schwartz suggests looking for a beautiful tapestry for your room on websites like Amazon. Not only can this colourful piece double as both a wall hanging or a bedspread, it can also work as a headboard and “act as a colourful jumping off point for decorating your room,” she said. Amazon.com has a great selection of wall hangings for under $25

Make the lighting inviting: When it comes to decorating a dorm room lighting is very important, according to Bermudian-based decorators Oneka Benn Schwartz and Louisa Freisenbruch. Adding a few extra lamps around the space is great or create a more run look with fairy lights. Another tip? Personalise your space by adding a gallery of pictures of your favourite people and places
Choose wisely: Find small furniture items that can serve double duty. This comfortable stool also serves as extra storage in a cramped dorm room or seating when guests come over
Take Bermuda with you: Find small ways to pay homage to your Island home with postcards, maps or other DIY projects. These will remind you that home is never too far away (Google Images)
White is right: When it comes to dorm room basics like your bedding find something you like in white, suggests Louisa Freisenbruch of The Creative Bug. By going basic on key items around your room it helps to brighten up the space. You can also add the accent colours of your choice through fun pillows and throws

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Published August 25, 2015 at 9:00 am (Updated August 25, 2015 at 2:43 am)

Tips for sprucing up your university digs

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