Welcome to Liz’s Lemonade Stand, where the lemons of life are twisted into the sweetest lemonade.

See, even the view from 11,947 feet can be obscured at times. Metaphor courtesy of Mother Nature, Photo courtesy of Liz Winters

See, even the view from 11,947 feet can be obscured at times. Metaphor courtesy of Mother Nature, Photo courtesy of Liz Winters.

Frustrated with society and fed up with civilization, a few friends and I packed up and high-tailed it out to the wilderness this week. Nothing beats the mountains for a good therapy session–a total escape from anything that requires WiFi, a cell phone tower, and the ability to glorify your every move on some social network.

I exaggerate. While we did lose all contact with anyone not the next campsite over, my friends and I did not decide to go camping out of dissatisfaction for humanity (although this whole Zimmerman business may change my mind). In all actuality, we were just four girls enjoying the freedom of pre-college summer out for a good time gallivanting in the Uinta Mountains. There were definite challenges that popped up as a result of not having Mom there to show us how to get the camp stove to work or bring a can opener, but over all, it was quite a successful trip. So. Much. Fun.

Naturally, sharing a small, fabric parallelogram among four people becomes a bit of a squeeze, which got me thinking about dorm life. Whether you’re planning on a single, traditional double, or apartment style dorm, space is going to be an issue.

The Lemon: Bed Bath & Beyond is sending you a flyer boasting great dorm deals weekly, Target’s ads are awash with dorm décor, and picking out a duvet cover is like trying to choose what kind of ice cream to get at Ben and Jerry’s (but let’s be real here, Peanut Butter Cup is really the only option). So where to begin? How do you make your dorm your personal sanctuary without spending a fortune?

Image from Pottery Barn

Image from Pottery Barn

The Lemonade: I’m going to be living in an apartment-style dorm with five other girls this fall. We’ll have a full kitchen, living room, bathroom, and three bedrooms (two people per bedroom). One of my lovely roommates created a group page on Facebook so everyone can introduce themselves and also plan out who’s going to bring what; we wouldn’t want to end up with three coffee makers and no saucepan.

Actually, considering that I’m going to Utah State University, I don’t think an excess of coffee makers will be an issue. I’ll probably be the only bringer of coffee.

But I digress. In short, communicate with your roommate so that unnecessary duplicates do not occur! When you’re short on space, every square inch counts.

Speaking of which, let’s talk storage. The number of storage options is mind boggling and completely overwhelming! I tried to make myself look through the Bed Bath & Beyond ad with an ounce of consideration for what I’ll need, but there are just too many options. As I already have a hanging shoe organizer, it will definitely be coming with me. I’m also thinking containers that slide out from under the bed will be a good investment, especially for stashing out of season items.  If you can loft your bed over your desk or bunk with your roommate, it will also free up space.

Image from Tumblr

Image from Tumblr

One of my major concerns (however shallow it may seem) is to avoid having a dorm room that looks like “everyone else’s.” I personally do not want to be squashed into one of the plastic storage bins I’ll inevitably purchase. Bringing my own personality into décor and storage is important to me. Here’s where a little DIYing can really make your precious space feel like it’s really yours. I’m planning on reusing a bunch of empty tea sachet canisters as penholders, cash holders, and whatever else needs a place to dwell in. Decorating the outside is simple and fun (Stickers! Colored tape! Sharpies!) and, here goes my environmental science major plug, good for the planet.

I’ve also been an avid online shopper for many dorm accessories. Skimming major summer sales has allowed me to pick up a duvet cover, snazzy five-hook wall hanger, sheets, and more at steep discounts. It takes work, but digging through the clearance section is almost guaranteed to yield some success, for your room and your wallet.



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the author

Liz Winters is a freshman at Utah State University. She graduated from high school as a full IB Diploma Candidate. Now a member of USU's cross country and track teams, she is as busy and happy as ever. When she’s not running around her college town of Logan, Utah or up a mountain, chances are pretty good she’s either eating peanut butter or playing the flute. You’ll never catch Liz without her water bottle, though she is quite the tea and coffee aficionado (fair trade certified preferred!). Liz has a terminal case of wanderlust, fueled by plans to minor in French. A granola girl at heart, she's planning on majoring in Conservation and Restoration Ecology. Sustainability has blossomed into passion for the planet, and this translates into a love for learning and spreading the sustainable spirit. Liz still doesn't know what she wants to do when she "grows up," but that's just fine because the adventure is all in the journey!

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  1. Mollie Yacano on July 18, 2013

    …it’s probably bad at how much I’m laughing at the coffee comment…Onto more helpful topics, my FAVORITE THING for dorm room decorating is wall decorations, and an easy/inexpensive DIY is getting cork-board tiles (literally 5 dollars at cvs), a few sponge brushes (literally around 43 cents apiece), a roll of painters tape (2-3 dollars) and some acrylic paint…(this was like 5 dollars for a set of little-kid paint, I got my schools colors but really you can do whatever), making a bunch of designs with the tape, painting over it, and pulling the tape up. On a scale from 1-10, my art skills are probably a LOW 2-3 and even I didn’t mess this up, plus it’ll give me even more room to pin up stuff from home!

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