* This blog post is inspired by the Dear Snarky letter I received about moms spending thousands of dollars on dorm room decorations.
There’s nothing I like more than dispensing unsolicited parenting advice and making fun of a current societal trend. Now, if I can combine both of those into a delicious two-fer I’m in my happy place. This means right now I’m smiling ear-to-ear because I’m about to share parenting wisdom while mocking the latest in collegiate stupidity – designer decor for your child’s dorm room.
Perhaps you’ve seen the video that is being shared on-line via Southern Living (click here for video) about co-eds who go all out to make sure their dorm rooms are exquisite. I’m talking monogrammed linens, pricey area rugs, custom-built furniture to make the most out of the floor space, black out draperies and upholstered headboards that are, you guessed it, monogrammed. It’s like Pinterest swiped right and had a Tinder date with the Pottery Barn Teen catalog.
I’m all for trying to disguise the yuck factor of living in a dorm, but I’m still slack-jawed from hearing that parents are paying thousands of dollars for linens and mattress upgrades and that there are dorm interior design businesses. Yes, for a boatload of cash you can pay a firm to not only design your child’s dorm room, but show up on move in day and do the “install.”
While I was pondering what’s motivating this trend – helicopter mamas who want to recreate the opulence of their child’s upbringing, social media (because long time readers know that is my “go to blame” for almost everything), or some sort of territorial one-upmanship I discover that in 2017 there are actual collegiate competitions for “best dorm room.”
This means that the answer to “Why is this now a thing?” is all of the above.
On some level I get it. Dropping your kid off for their freshman year of college is tough and I’m not talking about the separation anxiety you’re having as a parent. I’m talking about the money you’re shelling out for your child to live in a room with smaller dimensions than a Kansas Department of Corrections prison cell.
It profoundly affects you especially when you do the math about what you’re paying per square foot. But even if you take that bubbling rage and redirect it into making the tiny space feel like home I still don’t get the urge to spend even more money for the ultimate in dorm camouflage.
Here’s the hard truth from a parent who has gone through this journey. No matter how much money you spend nothing is going to eradicate the fact that your kid is a dorm. You could monogram every square inch and they’re still going to be laying in bed looking at walls that have been painted institutional beige since before the Eisenhower administration and iffy ceiling tiles while they inhale the ever-present odor of feet that not even a nuclear powered Febreze plug could eradicate.
Also, as the mother of a teenage girl let me share that if you do engage in a designer dorm room experience take a lot of pictures of that perfect room because chances are 24 hours after your depart it will be unrecognizable. All the pricey Egyptian cotton monogrammed linens, the plush upholstered headboard with tufted buttons, the imported wool area rug will be smothered by a volcanic-esque explosion of clothes and (my personal nemesis) wet towels.
I strongly believe you don’t want to make the dorm room too nice. Your kid needs to do without the comforts of home so they appreciate what they have at home. There’s a level of character building to living in a dorm and sharing bathroom space and everything else with a multitude of humans. It’s called getting life experience and isn’t that one of the reasons we send them off to college?