The Lovely Side reader Shelby messaged me with a special challenge: decorating the small space she'll be living in short-term during her summer job.
The good news... After graduating Saturday, Shelby will be flying out to California on Sunday – with only two suitcases. She'll be working as a House Manager for a theatre in CA and living in a dorm suite – she gets the RA apartment all to herself!
The bad news... Shelby can only tote along what she can fit into her two suitcases. (Her bamboo plant can't tag along – sad!). Plus, she'll only be living there until mid-August and will have to move out the last week of work to stay with someone else, as the students will be returning and will need the dorms back.
Shelby's stumped with minimal space and time to make her new, temporary home look nice. Knowing how boring dorm rooms can look (and having no roomies to share decorating duties with) she finds herself in need of a little inspiration.
1. Minimalist Mindset
When you know that you'll be living in a place short-term, take a "less is more" approach from the start. You won't be there forever, so you don't need to fill the walls with art, fill the shelves with books, or fill the closet with clothes. Less stuff will equal less stress when life gets busy and it comes time to move out. (Search "minimalist decor" on Pinterest for ideas.)
2. Colorful Curtains
Drapes in a bright shade or fun pattern are one of the fastest, easiest, and cheapest ways to transform a space. When the light shines through colored curtains, the hue will be cast over the space. Plus, curtains are easy to roll up and pack along with your clothes.
3. Bags Not Boxes
To keep your space fresh, tidy, and organized, look to pouches rather than bulky boxes, bins, and baskets. It will also help limit your packing to what you need: a pouch of cosmetic essentials, a pouch of pens and office supplies, a pouch of eating utensils.
4. Delay the Duvet
Comforters and duvets are bulky and difficult to pack. Instead, roll up a duvet cover, tapestry, or pretty blanket with your clothes. You can purchase a cheap duvet or solid comforter when you get to your destination – and thanks to the pretty blanket you packed, you won't be sacrificing style.
5. Personalized Prints
Adorn your walls with intent. Don't go overboard, but do put something up. Instead of packing or purchasing a bunch of art, design and print your own. Type up a few of your favorite quotes in a pretty font, save to a flash drive, and print. You can tuck them inside a folder to keep them nice and flat – or you can hit up a local print shop when you get to town.
6. Friends & Fam Photos
It's likely that you'll miss friends and family while you're away. The impulse is to bring framed photos, but these are difficult and cumbersome to pack. Instead, print out your favorites. Stick them in a folder (with your print) and get creative with displaying them. Attach them to a piece of twine that you can hang vertically next to the window – or clothespin them to the twine strung horizontally along the wall.
7. Go Thrifting
Dorm furniture is notoriously bland and boring, but bringing your own really isn't an option. When you arrive in your temporary new town, get to know it by sniffing out the local antique and thrift stores. Purchasing a cute vintage chair or pretty antique mirror will contrast with the dorm standards and add some eclectic flair.
8. Get Crafty
Say you find a cheap chair at the local Goodwill – transform it with some spraypaint. Say you've got some weekend time on your hands – turn thrifted canisters into storage for your snack supply or bath and body products. Make some more art for your walls. Turn an antique mirror into a message board with paint. Do-it-yourself projects will keep you busy and help decorate your place on a budget while you live there.
9. Double Duty
When possible, opt for items that can pull double duty. For example, a clip-on lamp. These are commonly found at stores like Target, are inexpensive, and come in pretty colors and finishes. If you position your bed next to the desk, the lamp can clip onto your headboard to serve as a reading lamp – and then when you're at your desk, simply flex the neck and aim the light toward the desk. That's one less lamp you need to bring. And since the lamps are flexible, they'll also fold up nicely to pack.
10. Leave It
As much as you want your short-term home to feel like home, it's important to keep in mind that it is just that: short-term. You will be busier than you think. So while you may feel that you need a stack of books or dvds, leave them. If you get bored and need entertainment, rent a book from the library or a dvd from RedBox. Go light on clothing, too. Pick pieces that you can mix and match. Consider leaving certain things at home just so that you can lighten your load – then, buy the necessities upon arrival. For instance, you can open a lot of suitcase space by skipping the toiletries and picking them up at a local dollar store when you move in.
Have any of you lived in a dorm short-term for a summer job, internship, or other opportunity? How did you manage? How did you decorate? What did you pack?