Get Your Back to School Dorm Decor From Goodwill

It’s officially Back to School season, and millions of graduating high school seniors will be leaving the nest and going off to college. For many, their first taste of independence will come from living in a dorm room.

Although most teenagers get a chance to decorate their rooms at home, getting set up in a dorm is their first chance to really express their true personality with decor beyond Teen Beat posters. Without interference from mom and dad, college kids can explore their tastes in any style imaginable.

And, because that taste is bound to change once they get some inspiration from new friends and peers, it makes Goodwill of Orange County such a great choice for back to school decor.

I’m sure teens and parents can agree that, not only is it an economical choice to shop at Goodwill for dorm room decor, but that it’s also an environmentally-sustainable one. Repurposing goods from your community helps the local economy and ensures less stuff ends up in landfills. Once students tire of the decor they created, they can continue the sustainability cycle by donating last semester’s and shopping for “new.”

Now, decorating a dorm room presents a few challenges. Most don’t allow you to paint, and students are likely to be sharing the room with at least one other student. Also, they’re notoriously small in square footage.

So, instead of heading to a big box chain to pick up their specifically merchandized decor for college students, my advice is to get creative in you local Goodwill store. Because, really, the last thing a college freshman wants their room to look like is as if it literally came out of a box. Here are the key pieces you want to pick up to help you maximize a dorm room space.

Artwork

The personality of a room – whether it be a formal living room in a mansion or a college dorm room – lies in the artwork. Posters, framed prints and even a painted canvas created by the student give the room a unique flavor that distinguishes it from others.

left: a textured wall hanging, right: a Rothko (?)

left: a textured wall hanging, right: a Rothko (?)

beach-inspired wall hangings

beach-inspired wall hangings

Lamps

You gotta have plenty of light – both for studying and gourmet microwave cookery. A unique lamp can be both a light source and conversation piece for friends. Choose lamps that give you both ambient light and directional light.

Goodwill stores always have an endless lamp selection

Goodwill stores always have an endless lamp selection

lava-like, funky shapes are always a good dorm room choice

lava-like, funky shapes are always a good dorm room choice

Soft Goods – Bedspreads, Window Panels, Table Coverings & Pillows

In home decorating, paint is a popular option because it’s inexpensive and (relatively) easy to change. Since painting isn’t usually an option for dorm room students, my recommendation is to go for soft goods in a range of styles. They’re easy to change out and also give the student a chance to play with color and pattern.

throw pillows are a great way to add color

throw pillows are a great way to add color

bedspreads, window panels and tables cloths are easy to change out

bedspreads, window panels and tables cloths are easy to change out

Small Storage and Knick-Knacks

An important lesson many students learn early is that it’s good to be detail-oriented; same goes for decorating your space. You don’t want just text books, pens and notepads to be your decor – so find small, unique pieces.

Extra credit for knick-knacks that double as storage.

hipster's choice: a vintage alarm clock

hipster’s choice: a vintage alarm clock (hint: set it to wake you to a 70s, easy listening station for maximum effect)

go for storage cubes in natural fibers - not plastic

go for storage cubes in natural fibers – not plastic

a small Oaxacan wood box

convo piece and storage: a small Oaxacan wood box

a painted Japanese vase

convo piece: a painted Japanese vase

School’s starting soon! Don’t be “that guy/girl” and let yourself get caught in a new place without some fun, new and affordable decor for your dorm room. And, remember, your purchases help real people in your community facing barriers to get and keep jobs which provide purpose, pride and dignity.

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