It’s A Dorm Room Dummy

* 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 in 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?

Dear Snarky – My Daughter’s Roommate Wants Her To Spend $2,000 On Dorm Room Decor!!!

Dear Snarky,

I feel like my daughter is being hustled by her new college roommate. My daughter is leaving for college in a month and at first loved her soon to be roommate. Then the girl and her mother went over the top on decorating the dorm room. They want customized linens with monograms, padded headboards for the beds and black out drapes from Pottery Barn.

All of this came in at over $2,000 for each girl! If that’s not ridiculous enough the mom suggested that I send her the money over a Pay Pal account and she’ll just buy everything so it “matches perfectly.”

I don’t know these people and I sure don’t want to send the mom over two grand via Pay Pal. Plus, I don’t have $2,000! I’m paying for college!!!!

How can I put a stop to this without making my daughter’s roommate situation miserable?

Signed, Worried

Dear Worried,

Give me a second to catch my breath. $2,000 to decorate a dorm room and a mom wants money via Pay Pal. Are you kidding me? Yeah, let’s just call all that a great big “Oh hell no.”

Now, turn that frown upside down because I have a fool-proof and super easy way for your daughter to emerge unscathed. All she needs to do is text her new roommate and blame everything on you. She should tell her roommate that you’re a little crazy and obsessively thrifty so there’s no way that she can spend that much on a college dorm room – ever.

Your daughter should then suggest cheaper alternatives for the look as in getting linens from Target or a Home Goods store and having them monogrammed. As for those padded headboards I just found some online for $39.00. Sure, they’re not top of the line, but, oh yeah, it’s dorm.

If the new roommate and her mother turn their noses up at the idea of bargain hunting then your daughter should just stand firm and suggest that her roommate does exactly want she wants for her side of the room and she’ll do the same.

The bottom line is it’s a flipping dorm room and no matter how much money you spend it’s going to smell like a dorm and feel like a dorm. Plus, you go to college to further your education not to win cutest dorm ever.

*If you have a question for Dear Snarky – 21st Century Advice With an Attitude 😉 – email me at or PM on my Snarky FB page.