Dormify Founders Karen & Amanda Zuckerman's Decorating Dos And Don'ts - Exclusive

If you're a new college student, the idea of having near-total control over the décor, style, and layout of your future dorm room may be exhilarating — no longer will you be constrained by your parents' taste in furniture or your older siblings' hand-me-downs. And with visions of an Instagram-worthy statement room swirling in your head, you (and your credit card-wielding parents) head out in search of the perfect color-coordinated gear.

But beware: Once you start shopping, it won't take long for reality to hit. For most families, already cash-strapped from paying tuition, cost is a real concern. And the limited space in your future room (or more precisely, your half of the room) will further constrain the décor at your disposal. Finally, there are practical concerns: Will there be room for all your stuff, and how will you organize it? 

Karen and Amanda Zuckerman, the mother-and-daughter co-founders of Dormify — a one-stop online shop for dorm décor — know this dilemma firsthand. Their frustration when shopping for dorm supplies before Amanda's freshman year inspired them to create their business. In an exclusive interview with House Digest, they share practical tips for how students can get the most from their space — and mistakes to avoid while they're at it.

Choose practical materials and bring plenty of lights

Both Karen and Amanda Zuckerman agree that it's critical to stay practical when shopping for dorm furnishings. That's why Amanda said it's a good idea for students to listen to their parents' concerns. "We hear all the time when the student really wants white bedding, and then the parent says, 'Are you washing that white bedding? Are you sure about that?'" she mused. 

Along those lines, Amanda recommends checking the care instructions for decorative pillows and bedding before buying. "I would make sure that everything that you bring for your bed is machine washable," she continued. "It's just going to make your life a lot easier."

Lighting is another often-overlooked detail, but one that's essential for a room's atmosphere, as noted by Amanda. "[Bring] in as much lighting as possible, since what's provided is very dull and not warm and homey," she added. "Make sure that you have at least one floor lamp, desk lamps, and then decorative lighting like string lights, or LED strips or even neon signs that really make it more you."

Here are some mistakes to avoid

A big blunder many students make, according to Amanda Zuckerman, is failing to arrange their dorm room well. "I also recommend moving around the furniture that's provided because they typically don't set it up in the most space-effective way," she revealed. Related to this, Amanda said students often fail to take advantage of the vertical space available, too. "So, maximize under-bed [space], put as much of your clothing and shoes underneath there," she continued. "Then cover it all up with a bed skirt so that it's a very clean and polished-looking room." Amanda also suggests utilizing the backs of doors with hanging organizers to store your items.

Karen Zuckerman adds that another common mistake is transporting your entire wardrobe to campus. "I think you have to remember that you come home a couple times during the year, and you can switch out your clothing," she explained. "When you bring too much and there's nowhere to put it, you actually really clutter the space with clothing that you don't need. It's hard to get through it all."

For more stylish, space-saving tips, visit Dormify and Pearson+.