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If there is one thing I took away from living in dorms for the last four years it’s this: I hope you like tile, because you’re going to be seeing a lot of it.

Dorm Tile

Your typical dorm with typical dorm tile, courtesy of the Lovely Undergrad.

I groan now, but I’m actually kind of relieved I’ve never had to deal with dorm carpet that’s seen student after student over the course of several years. Yuck. I’ve always had carpets at home and unless I somehow manage to sneak them into the car, my mother usually makes me toss them at the end of the school year (Dorm hack: at the end of the school year the dorms become a burial ground for abandoned items; I once watched someone walk off with a 50-inch television), so collecting rugs turned into an accidental hobby of mine. You can put a rug anywhere — you can put a rug on a rug, if you want.

Dorm Rug

Try this: Designer Brian Patrick Flynn pieced together several rugs to fit the space for a custom look.

The thing about rugs is that they really pull a room together and make it feel warm and cozy. My freshman year I always found myself in awe of my neighbor’s room because it felt so homey. I eventually realized that it was most definitely her giant teal rug, “scraps” from her father’s interior design company, that was making all the difference.

GALLERY: Chic and Functional Dorm Room Decorating Ideas

Cheap area rugs can be found by the bin-full this time of year, but if you have the space, the money and know you’re in it for the long haul (or if you often sit/lay on the floor) it might not be such a bad idea to go for a nice rug that will keep your toes warm during the winter and that won’t fall apart. Trust me on this one: I once bought a carpet meant for patios; it was twice the size and half the price of any other rug I could find at the time and it was made from recycled bottles, so it was good for the environment. I win, right?

Wrong. The carpet had no backing, and quickly spread grainy particles all over my floor. I hate to say it, but you get what you pay for, and my trying to beat the system got me a constant dustpan full of carpet particles every time I swept. Do yourself a favor and splurge on the nice rug, you won’t regret it. Once the school year is over, just roll it up and take it with you!

Before you buy the rug:

-Make sure you know the room’s dimensions — most residence halls will have this information listed on their website.

-That white shag will be tempting, but will get dirty almost instantly. Go for a darker hue and consider a stain-resistant material.

-Try looking up a local contractor or interior designer and asking if they have carpet remnants for sale. Their leftovers might not be enough to cover a whole house, but often it’s more than enough for a dorm or small apartment!

Come back next week for my first day of school/move-in special! Do you have questions about dorm life? Leave a comment below!

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Jessica YonkerJessica Yonker is a editor for HGTV.com and a professional glitter handler. She loves decorating her friends' homes without their permission and practicing for her inevitable appearance on Chopped. Like...


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