When the bed is the biggest piece of furniture in the room, it’s an easy decision to make it the centerpiece.

Libby Sweet recently used her bed as the starting point to decorate her dorm room at Millersville University. The weekend before classes started, the sophomore joined thousands of college students across Lancaster County who moved into dorms and apartments.

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They brought a lot of stuff from their childhood bedrooms, and they also went shopping.

With tons of ideas available on Pinterest and Instagram, and tutorials hosted by YouTube stars and influencers, there’s a lot of inspiration to be absorbed that goes well beyond hanging posters or tapestries.

Sweet is the first of several local college students who will be sharing their dorm style with LNP/LancasterOnline.

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to quote chance the rapper.... “and we back” #year2

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Back-to-school budget

College students across the nation spent an average of $976.78 on their back-to-school budgets, according to the National Retail Federation. That's the highest amount since the trade association started tracking spending in 2003.

Sweet didn’t have a budget for dorm decor.

“I really tried to spend as little money as possible because college is definitely expensive,” she says.

Her summer job as a hostess at an Italian restaurant helped her save money for books, classes and some dorm room decor to fit her style: a little bohemian with pops of bright color.

MU Dorm

Bedding on a budget

This year, Sweet is sharing a double room in a four-person suite in Shenks Hall on the Millersville University campus. Her bed is a double, bigger than the twin-sized bed in her first-year dorm, so new bedding was at the top of her back-to-school wish list.

Sweet already had a weighted blanket but wanted more layers for her bed. She found a comforter with a red, blue and yellow paisley pattern for $20 at Primark in the King of Prussia Mall.

“I kind of picked colors from that and use that as inspiration for the throw pillows and the wall,” says Sweet, 19.

She found a pair of soft blankets, one orange and one white, at HomeGoods. A big yellow throw pillow was $12. It goes with the small rug she found on sale at Urban Outfitters last year (double-sided to double her decorating options).

“I figured I’d just put something there just to kind of bring the room together,” she says. “I mean, I didn’t really necessarily need to buy a hundred dollar rug to add a pop of color.”

Gallery wall

The gallery wall behind her bed came together with some pieces Sweet made and some she bought.

The macramé wall hanging came from her first-year dorm. She painted a few signs for her sorority, Delta Zeta. On a letter board, Sweet spelled out a quote, letter by letter: “You are worthy of new beginnings.”

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This semester, she’s in the process of changing her major to psychology, with a minor in women’s studies, so there are lots of opportunities for new beginnings.

“I really like to incorporate different inspirational things into my dorm,” she says. “Just kind of having that there, I can, like, see in the morning a reminder for me that I’m doing the best I can and that I’m going to make really great progress this semester.”

MU Dorm

Vision board

On another wall, above a cart filled with tea-making supplies, is a vision board filled with photos and quotes.

“So every morning when I wake up and make tea or whatever else, I can kind of look at that and remind myself exactly what my goals are,” Sweet says.

The ideas range from being nice and being brave to creating her own definition of success. It also has photos of cute outfits and Jeeps.

“I don't have one yet,” she says if Jeeps. “But fingers crossed.”

MU Dorm

Sweet made room for her ukulele in the closet of her dorm room.


Sweet follows other college students on YouTube and watches videos of their dorm room tours and study tips.

Danielle Carolan, for example, creates one of Sweet’s favorite YouTube channels. Carolan, who has more than half a million subscribers on YouTube, is in a sorority and inspired Sweet to join Delta Zeta.

“She does a lot of goal-oriented college stuff,” Sweet says.

While her home is not too far away in Parkesburg, Chester County, Sweet wants her dorm to feel like home.

In just a few days, with a tight budget, she’s created her home for the next nine months, “something that you can kind of come into and feel warm, and it’s something that’s calming, something that feels like me, that really represents my personality.”