Decorate Your Walls With This Free App!

We’ve just discovered a cool new app for wall artwork, and it’s free! Anybody who’s lived in a dorm room knows how bare the stark walls can be. What do you put on your wall? Once you’ve spent the money on wall art, who wants to change it and spend more money? We found this new free Android and iOS app, Artkick, that has a surprisingly fabulous solution to bare walls. Artkick allows you to stream paintings and photos on your TV screen with Chromecast, Roku or Apple TV, using your phone as an art remote. Your dorm room TV instantly becomes the center of attention, streaming over 1,000,000 famous pieces of art from Van Gogh to Warhol. Need to study for that Art History 101 test? Artkick features viewlists from hundreds of museums around the world with information on each piece displayed on your phone.

The app is as simple as firing up your TV. Having people over? Impress your friends with your art appreciation (real or not) or just stream photos from last weekend’s party. This is a great app for sorority houses, where you can stream photos of rush! Artkick can stream your Flickr, Facebook and Instagram photos too. Everybody wants to have the coolest dorm room around and having thousands of photos ready to display on the big screen with Artkick will be a sure way to make your dorm room a little classier this fall.

My Dorm Decor is a blog written by the staff at American Made Dorm & Home, which has everything you need for your dorm decor, including made in USA comforters, duvets, accent pillows, euro shams, monogramming and more. You can have your dorm bedding or dorm bundle shipped directly to home OR to school. Convenience and made in USA quality are the hallmarks of American Made Dorm & Home.

Dorm Decor 101

Having just finished four years in college and lots of dorm and apartment living, here are some dorm 101 tips from Alex Hutchison, Marketing Intern with American Made Dorm.

  • Share! Communicate with your roommate before hand in order to find out who’s bringing what. There is no point in both of you bringing a fridge, TV or a microwave, and even if there was you wouldn’t have enough room to do so! I already had a small TV at home, and luckily my roommate had a mini fridge so it worked out perfectly. Talk to your roommate and figure out who should bring what in order to save on costs and space. I also found that when buying items for both of you to use, whether it’s a microwave or storage cubes, it is best for each of you to buy one item rather than splitting the total cost. That way when it is time to move out, you won’t have to deal with figuring out who gets what.
  • Coordinate! Even if you aren’t into the idea of buying the exact bedding as your roommate (you are likely to have different tastes in décor) try to coordinate your colors and bedding. By doing so your room will feel much more homey and even a little bigger because it won’t seem as if there are two completely different sides! I didn’t move in with my roommate until later, so we had two different comforters. However, since mine was all white and hers was white, yellow and gray I was able to buy throw pillows for my bedding that tied our room décor together. Not only do pillows add a ton of personality to your room, they are great to have when you are studying all night in your dorm room. You won’t want to lean up against a bare cinder block wall all night! We have a variety of accent pillows to choose from at, as well as some pretty euro shams that are great for monogramming!

    We also have rugs and curtains (think CLOSET CURTAINS to hide the mess) to choose from, which are two items I would strongly suggest to help bring your whole dorm room together (not to mention keeping your feet warm…cold floors are awful in the fall and winter months).

  • Decorate! You are going to be living in this room for at least a year, so you might as well make it enjoyable! Most dorm room walls are made of cinder blocks and I’m not sure it can get any more boring than that. After you’re settled in, have a craft night with your roommate and make DIY projects to cover those bland walls.There are tons and tons of tutorials and guidelines on Pinterest and various other websites so I am sure you can find something you want to make for your room. Even if you don’t consider yourself “crafty,” give it a try! You will be surprised at how much you can do on your own if you just follow the steps. Another plus of painting your own canvases or building your own jewelry holder is that it is much cheaper than buying them from a store. Make the best of it and have fun decorating your room. After all, it will be your home for the next 9 months. Have fun with it!

Adjusting: College Study Habits

By Alex Hutchinson, Marketing Intern for American Made Dorm & Home.

One of the most difficult adjustments as a college freshman has to do with what we all actually go to college for. You likely guessed it:  Education! Things like going to class, creating good study habits, and prepping for tests. For most, this will be the hardest adjustment.

In high school, you had a schedule set for you. In college, you set the pace and you make the decision to go or not to go every single day. You choose the classes you want, right down to the professor, the time of day, and how often it meets a week. The options are endless, and allow you to tailor your schedule to best suit you. That is definitely the best part about the academic side of college. The tricky part lies within your study habits. With so much freedom and time on your hands, it is tempting to put off all of your studying until the last minute (obviously so you can do more appealing things at the time). But beware, it could come back to bite you!! By reflecting on my time in college, I have put together a list of a few study tips you might find helpful.

  • Get organized. Buy a planner, an agenda, a calendar, whatever you want to call it, and actually use it! I found that by color coding all of my activities/assignments it was much easier to keep track of everything. I would use a blue pen for class work, a green pen for my sorority, a purple pen for philanthropy events, a pink pen for social events, and so on. American Made Dorm has these great peel and stick wall message boards (and calendars) that come with a dry eraser. It’s a great way to keep a daily study to do list because you can erase yesterday’s list and jot down new things each day.
  • Prioritize. This is a big one in college. There is always something fun going on around campus, whether you are involved in greek life, enjoy cheering on your school at sporting events, or are involved in a club on campus. In between all of this fun stuff, you can’t forget about your classwork. I found in order to be able to do it all, I had to spend my time wisely and plan ahead. Instead of laying around until your afternoon class starts or staying up until 1 AM watching your new favorite TV series, get your studying done then! Break it up into small segments. When the weekend finally arrives, you’ll be glad you did!
  • Get a Study Buddy.  Find a friend or someone in your major and study with them. It’s a lot easier to stay up until 3:00 AM if someone else is doing it with you.  Even if it’s not for the same exam, it’s still good to have the company. If you are studying for the same exam, it’s a great way to quiz each other and talk through the material out loud. Sometimes hearing someone else’s perspective on the matter is all you need to clear up any confusions you may have in order to learn the material!
  • Figure Out the Best Place To Study. If your dorm room is the place where everyone seems to gather, or if your roommate seems to have people over every minute of the day, you might decide that you just can’t get anything done there (even if you set up your dorm desk in the best way possible to study!). Try the Library or a gathering room that’s quiet.  Find a space that is yours and that works for you. If the “place” you study becomes a habit, you’ll study more often and probably more efficiently.  It’s just way better to go somewhere quiet and get it done than to be constantly interrupted by friends, music, or the TV.
  • Don’t Cram. We all do it, and at the time it seems like a good idea. You can put off all your study until the night before and not worry a bit about it in the days leading up to the big exam. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Well, no matter how much you convince yourself,  it is never a good idea!   More than likely you’ll get to the exam and draw a blank, or you’ll remember reviewing that material, but just not enough to know the right answer. Trust me… this is very frustrating after putting in what seemed like countless hours at the time. You might even end up making on okay grade on the exam, but from my experience I could’ve always done a little bit better. So, take it from someone with experience, and study in advance! A few hours here and there throughout the week leading up to the exam is much more effective then ten hours straight the night before.

While college and all that freedom is really great, if you set up some good study habits early on and stick to them, you’ll sail through your tests (well, not all of them!) and be better prepared for your college experience.


Small Dorm Room Storage Tips

By Alex Hutchison, recent college grad and marketing intern at American Made Dorm & Home.

As we all know, dorm rooms are tiny. For some of you, it may be the first time in your entire life you have had to share a room. When you combine the size of the room, or lack thereof, with the that fact that your roommate might be a complete stranger, let’s just say you have a lot to adjust to! Today, I am going to share with you some tips on storage in hopes of maximizing your dorm room!

  • Bring storage crates and storage solutions. Storage crates and bins will become your new best friend! I didn’t bring nearly enough with me, and ended up having to search for more once I got to school, which is harder than you think in a college town where everyone is buying the exact same things. Be sure to get all shapes and sizes in order to fill every space possible, as some are bigger than others. There’s a company we work with at American Made Dorm called Dorm Cubby, and they make these great storage units for either over the bed or over the desk.
  • Utilize your space.  My roommate and I decided bunking our beds was the best way to go. This still gave us some underbed storage, as well an entire wall to store everything else. It also made the room feel a bit bigger, which we really liked. Your closet is a great place to store things as well. Try a closet organizer for extra pockets! Also use a curtain like these made by American Made Dorm and Home to cover your closet! It allows you to hide all the clutter while adding a touch or personality to your room. They come in tons of fabrics and colors made to coordinate with their dorm bedding (comforters and duvets).
  • Only bring the necessities. Chances are you will go home at least once before the end of the semester so you should be able to get by with only that season’s clothes until then. I would highly suggest this if at all possible. Of course, bring a few things that aren’t in season just in case, because you never know what Mother Nature might decide to do!
  • Bring dual purpose items. Try to get items that can be used for multiple things. For example, they make storage ottomans that are perfect for storing your scarfs, or even jeans, but also double as extra seating or maybe even a nightstand. The more you can do with less in a dorm room, the better.
  • Don’t forget a message board!  One of the peel and stick message boards (or wall calendar) for the wall was a must. I kept notes and reminders on it every day.  They come with a dry erase pen that can hang from a hook so you don’t lose it. These are great and come in lots of colors that match up with your room decor. They can be moved so if you change your room layout, the message board or calendars just peel off the wall and can be postioned on another wall.  You can get those along with your dorm bedding at American Made Dorm & Home.


Conquering the “Freshman 15″

Written by Alex Hutchison, Marketing Intern for American Made Dorm

Nobody really knows what to expect going into college as a freshman. One thing is for sure:  it is full of surprises!  No matter how much advice you get or how many articles you read, there will still be unexpected things thrown your way.  I know for me one of the biggest adjustments was attempting to be somewhat healthy and fit while being completely on my own and surrounded by so many unhealthy, but tasty, options.  I’m not sure about most of you, but the university I attended didn’t really offer a wide variety of healthy foods.  Of course, we had the typical cafeteria options available, as well as a Subway and a salad bar, but we also had places like Papa Johns, Izzy’s Burritos, Panda Express, and Chic-fil-a.  As you could imagine, this is where the dreaded freshman 15 begins.  It’s extremely hard being tempted by all of these food options, especially when you have meal plans that cover a large slice of pizza, a breadstick and a coke; whereas, if you were to buy something healthier it is probably not covered through a meal plan because it is more expensive.  It is also much more convenient to swing through one of the lines and grab food to go, rather than attempt to cook something in that tiny little dorm kitchen, especially when you’re in a hurry…as you almost always are in college!  With that said, I’m going to provide you with a few do’s and dont’s of college life in terms of being healthy and staying fit!

  1. DO get a meal plan package.  I can assure you this will save you a ton of money in the long run, because, as I mentioned earlier, one meal plan covers a lot of food for a little price.  Of course, you will be tempted by all the unhealthy options because they are right in front of you, but try your best to find those options that are good for you.  Do your nutrition research on the restaurants your school offers, and figure out the places you should eat and those you should “treat” yourself to every now and then.  Also, stock up on healthy snacks in your dorm room.  That way when you get a late night craving you’ll have no choice but to eat healthy!
  2. DON’T get the biggest meal plan package.  Trust me, all of my friends that go the 19, or even the 14 meals per week always ended up giving theirs away or buying extra items to avoid letting them go to waste.  At my school, we could only use 4 meals a day, and at the end of the week they expired.  So check your school’s policies to see which plan is best for you. From my experience, 10 meals a week was just the right amount. This gave me the flexibility to eat on campus, in my dorm room, or even treat myself to something off-campus every once and a while!
  3. DO utilize your school’s gym!  This is a big one.  More than likely it is free for students and, if you’re as lucky as I was, it has tons of state-of-the-art equipment that you would normally have to pay big membership fees for.  It is also probably open fairly late, considering it is a college campus and they realize we all have hectic schedules.  My school even offered free exercise classes almost everyday, as well as one-on-one training!  I found the best way to utilize all of these amenities was by going with a friend. It is much easier, and more enjoyable to push through an hour long workout after a long day if you two set a schedule and stick to it.

Go into college with a plan for healthy eating and exercise and you’ll be able to avoid the “freshmen 15″.

Dorm Decor Inspirations and DIY

Written by Alex Hutchison, recent college graduate and marketing intern for American Made Dorm. What great ideas!

Dorms can be a bit bland. Okay, let’s be honest, they are extremely bland! It’s hard to make a tiny cinder block room feel cozy and homey, especially if you are moving in with a complete stranger.  On top of all that, most incoming freshmen are on a fairly tight budget.  Trust me, I’ve been there!  We all want our dorm rooms to be a “home away from home”, a little sanctuary we can call our own for the next year, but how on earth do we accomplish this on such a tight budget?  Is it even possible to turn that little cinder block room into something cozy without spending boatloads of money? The answer is yes, indeed! In fact, it is a lot easier than you probably think… as long as you know where to look.

I am a sucker for thrift stores, antique shops, and of course DIY projects.  Not only can you get some really great finds for little money, but being able to claim the DIY projects as your own feels great.  If your friends are anything like mine, meaning they don’t have the patience or craftiness to make the DIY projects on their own, you might even make a few extra bucks when they see how perfect your dorm room looks! When I was decorating my dorm room, and even my house/apartment after I moved out, I used just about everything for inspiration. HGTV is a great source, whether you are as addicted to the television network as I am or you are just browsing online!

Of course, Pinterest is another great place to look for ideas. American Made Dorm & Home has created Pinterest Dorm Decor Boards by color to give you inspiration. Another resource? Go to antique stores or thrift shops and browse high and low until you find something that sparks an idea! There were several times when I found really great vintage lamp, but never a lamp shade to go with it. I ended up buying the lamps regardless (each under $20) with plans to purchase a shade later. The options of what you can do with the shades are endless! You can use a stencil to pattern it, adorn it with ribbon, or cover it with fabric!  Another great find from these types of stores are old window panes. I got one for a whopping $6. I left mine just the way I found it, but you can easily paint over them.  I bought tweed rope from a craft store to string across the width of it, and used mini clothes hangers to hang my favorite pictures! It was, and still is, a definite attention getter when someone walks into my room, and all for under $10.

Another awesome DIY project I did in my house, but can easily be done for your dorm if you’re lucky enough to have the suite style living, is a coffee table made from wooden pallets! I am from a small town, and my parents knew plenty of people who had these laying around and were happy to get rid of them, so I got mine for free! If you check any home store, such as Home Depot, Lowe’s or even somewhere locally that gets large shipments in, I am most certain you can find them at little to no cost as well. (Be sure to google this project to ensure you are using the correct type of pallet.  Most pallets are stamped with letters that tell you which kind is safe for indoor use, and which is not, since some are chemically treated.) Then, sand your pallets until they are relatively smooth and add your favorite paint color.  I also added a piece of glass and four wheels so it’s easily movable. I cannot tell you how many people have asked me about this piece. They are always shocked when I tell them I did it all myself. I have also seen pallets used as headboards, and even chairs and end tables, which just requires a little more work because you have to tear them apart and reassemble according to your desired dimensions. Last but not least, one of the easiest ways to spice up your bland dorm is with wooden wall cutouts.

Whether you’re in a sorority, want to display your initials, or have a favorite word you want to share, this DIY is so easy to do!  I traced my sorority letters on a piece of plywood and had a friend cut them out. You can use whatever design you want, whether you make up your own like I did or use your new beautiful bedding from American Made Home & Dorm as inspiration, there is really no wrong way to do it! With these tips, you should be on your way to some fun, easy and cheap DIY projects that will have everyone in your dorm talking about how fantastic your room looks! Remember, inspiration is everywhere.  You just have to know where to find it! :)