Back-to-college spending is expected to reach about $30.1 billion, or $612.12 per family, according to a National Retail Federation survey.
So, to show how you can make the most of your money, interior designer Kristan Cunningham shared suggestions on "The Early Show" Wednesday on achieving a stylish, new home-away-from-home without breaking the bank, using functional and fun items.
Cunningham said in recent years, the dorm room has come to represent who students are because it is their first space they get to create on their own. And now, students have a plethora of options available to them, Cunningham said, so they don't have to settle for the old milk crates and cinder blocks. Students are also savvier, according to Cunningham, so they're making smarter choices -- like investing in items that they can see themselves using for the next four years, or even beyond that in their first apartment.
Cunningham said the trick is to shop the big box stores to keep the prices where you want them, but to look beyond the standard back to school merchandise, and investigate items that feel a little more grown up.
Cunningham added a general rule of thumb for decorating small spaces is to avoid crazy patterns.
She said, "They'll just give you a headache in such a small space."
Instead, Cunningham said students should focus on making big, graphic, impactful statements, like a bright yellow framed fabric in front of the charcoal curtains. She added students should try to stick to a fairly neutral base layer to have the option of swapping out an item or two to change the whole look.
But how do you make a space your own without damaging the space with nails or hooks?
Cunningham said most students in dorms are faced with the same problem: cinder block walls that you're not allowed to nail into. She suggested using adhesive gadgets by Command that stick right up and snap back down, leaving no damage to the wall.
Another essential to a dorm room is the storage. Bins, Cunningham said, consolidate and store all of the smaller stuff, which helps keep a space organized. However, keeping bins in matching or coordinating colors helps with the visual chaos.
Another way to create more space in a dorm room is to buy bed raisers, which can free up inches of space for more storage.
Other items, such as ottomans, Cunningham said, can perform double-duty of providing seating and act as a desk, chair or end table. Ottomans, she added, are also a great investment for a first apartment.
For a list of products seen on "The Early Show", go to Page 2.
ITEMS FROM IKEA
MIL white floor lamps - $19.99
FADO table lamps - $14.99
ODDA storage box with casters -$79.99
KAJSASTINA yellow burst fabric for wall art - $5.99 a yard
FLÖRT boxes in grey/yellow - $7.99
FIRA mini-chest with 9 drawers - $19.99
FIRA mini-chest with 3 drawers - $14.99
KASSETT magazine file 2 pks - $2.99 per 2 pack
GOSA MÅBÄR neckroll inserts (with 2 white covers as well) - $19.99
EKTORP lumbar cushions in SVANBY Grey - $19.99
RITVA curtains with tie-backs in gray - $29.99
TUPPLUR roller blinds in black, size 55" by 77" - $34.99
IKEA PS STOFF throw in dark gray - $19.99
VIKA AMON table tops in white, 39 3/8" x 23 5/8" - $14.99
GALANT A-legs in white (adjustable up to 35") - $10.00
KASSETT DVD box in white - $4.99 per 2 pack
KASSETT box for paper in white - $5.99 per 2 pack
2pks EMU box with lid in silver - $6.99 per set of 2
SUMMERA drawer inserts with 6 compartments - $4.99
ANTONIUS laundry bag with stand in white/silver - $14.99
Storage Ottoman- Gray - $69.99 ONLINE and $17.48 IN STORE
Pedestal Table - Pixilated Dot (WHITE ONE) - $19.99
Pedestal Table - Black Damask (BLACK ONE) - $19.99
Elite Poster Frame - Black (16 x 20) - $5.99
BED BATH & BEYOND
Tall black bed lifts (set of 4)
Wheeled 29" h 3- drawer unit
Campus Security Safe
Frame chalkboard stickers
Desktop storage carousel
Set black plastic flatware
Pulp bulletin board