Best Places to Relax on Campus (That aren’t your Dorm Room)

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Living life on campus can totally get stressful really quickly.  Between class, dealing with the roommate, and trying to manage a social life, you can get worn down and stressed out pretty quickly.  And if you can’t manage to get your dorm room to yourself often enough, this can increase tenfold.

Finding the right places to kick back on campus without worrying about everything weighing you down can really help keep your stress level in check.  Whether you’re kicking back on a lazy Saturday or looking for something to do to relax between classes on a Monday afternoon, you need to find the right location to really get the most out of it.

Here are our favorite places to hit up (that aren’t your dorm room) when you finally decide to take some time to relax.

#1 – THE LOUNGE

If you’re living on-campus in a dorm, chances are that there is a lounge somewhere in the building for students to use.  This is typically a pretty under-used location, even with the number of people living in the building, and you can easily sneak in and kick back without being interrupted.

#2 – THE LIBRARY

Not just a place to go to study or read, the library is definitely one of the best places on campus to relax.  It’ll be nice and quiet most of the time and is probably packed full of comfortable chairs and couches that you can kick back on.  There’ll definitely be Wi-Fi available, so you can totally catch up on your favorite shows or listen to some tunes while you relax (as long as you have headphones – duh).

#3 – THE QUAD

Perfect for the more outdoorsy types among us, the quad is one of the best places to get some sun and chill in the great outdoors.  If you’re on a campus where it’s still warm enough to hang outside that actually has a quad area that you can use, you can totally take a blanket to sit on and just hang out and enjoy yourself.

#4 – THE GYM

When you really need a kick to help you relax, try hitting up the gym on-campus (if you have one).  This is the perfect way to blow off some steam and get a little bit of physical activity in, too.  If you’re a little self-conscious about going alone or prefer to have a group with you, invite some friends to play basketball or run some laps with you.

#5 – THE ART BUILDING

If your college doesn’t have one of these bad boys on campus, you can totally ignore this option.  For those of you with an art building at your school, chances are that there are some art classes open that you can join that are free to students.  Ask around to find out what you can get yourself involved in for an easy and active way to help you relax and take your mind off of everything else.

Grocery Shopping Essentials for Dorm Rooms

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Dorm room pizza

If you’re living on campus and totally sick of the food in the cafeteria or can’t deal with the super limited options available, never fear.  You can easily hit up a grocery store to get the snacks, beverages, and anything else you need!  But finding food that is affordable on a college budget and will last the whole semester can be a challenge if you don’t know what to look for.  And if you’re new to the grocery scene, finding what you need can be a little overwhelming amongst the mountains of food.

Don’t you worry at all – we’ve gathered the five most affordable and delicious foods you can easily snag at your local grocery store.  Without further ado, here is our list of must-have food items for your college dorm.

INSTANT OATMEAL

Super cheap and easy to make, instant oatmeal is the broke college student’s best friend.  You can easily buy a tub of plain oatmeal and your favorite toppings to mix in for less than $5 total, and it will last you for plenty of breakfasts.  And the best part?  This bad boy has a super long shelf life so you can stock up when your parents in town to have enough to last all semester long.

MAC-AND-CHEESE

Super delicious and super cheap, mac-and-cheese is a definite must-have in your arsenal.  Not only is mac-and-cheese super filling and affordable (under $5 a box), but also it makes for the perfect late night snack or hangover food, too.  Stock up on a mega-sized box from your local big-box store and you’ll have the perfect anytime food ready to go.

RAMEN NOODLES

The holy grail of college life, Ramen Noodles are probably the cheapest and most delicious food you can have in your arsenal.  All you need to do is add a little water and nuke it in the microwave and you have a hot and tasty meal (almost) instantly.  A super-sized pack of ramen sells for less than $0.50 each at your local grocery or big box store, making it super affordable, too.

INSTANT RICE

Another must-have for college life is definitely the oversized $5 box of instant rice.  Another product that just needs a little bit of water and a microwave, you can totally cook up a bowl of steaming hot rice in minutes.  Throw a little of your favorite hot sauce in it, mix in some salt, or add ramen noodles (if you really want to get crazy).  Any way you eat it, instant rice is going to taste great.

PROTEIN BARS

An essential for any college student on the go, protein bars are a quick way to get a satisfying snack or mini-meal if you’re running late to class or are in the middle of a four-hour lab.  You can easily buy them in bulk for under $20 a box at a Costco or Sam’s Club and keep them stashed in your dorm for whenever you need them.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Remember, you don’t have to settle.  When it comes to campus food, you can totally skip the trial and error of the cafeteria by hitting up your local grocery store.  Keep to budget-conscious foods like mac-and-cheese, ramen, and protein bars to keep yourself fed and in the green. Trust us – your stomach and your bank account will thank you.

How to Keep Your Room Summer-Y All Year Round

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As the summer comes to a close and the cooler fall and winter months slowly creeping come in, it can be hard to hang onto those happy carefree summertime feelings. As the days get darker and colder, so can your spirits.

And, what’s the easiest way to keep yourself feeling bright and active as these hazy days drag on and on, you ask? By keeping your room the same way, of course. Here a few of our favorite ways to keep your room looking and feeling totally summer-y all year round.

TIP #1 – Lighting is Your New BFF

What’s the quickest way to make your room feel like you’re living the good summer life? Up your interior lighting game. Adding more or warmer lighting to your room can really open it up and give it that authentic summertime feel.

Rather than using that (horrible) overhead fluorescent lighting that your dorm more than likely has, look for a floor lamp or even a desk lamp that you can add to your room to warm it up a bit. After all, the brighter your room, the more inviting and open it seems.

TIP #2 – Go for the Brights

One of the quickest ways to add a little summer back to your room is by throwing in some bright, summery colors. Think about it – if your room is all hospital white and navy, you’re not going to be feeling too bright or happy. By dropping a few bright hints here and there, you can totally take your room (and style) up a notch.

Try adding in some vibrant blues, yellows, or oranges in various places and go from there. Little touches, such as a turquoise throw pillow or an electric blue desk lap, can really bring a little summery oomph back to your room. Just avoid overdoing it with the colors or you may start to feel a bit overwhelmed.

TIP #3 – Keep it Scent-Sual

Still not feeling the summertime vibes? Try adding some tasty summery smells to your room! Something as simple as a reed diffuser or a scented air spray in one of your favorite citrusy or tropical scents can really add some vibrancy back to your digs.

TIP #4 – Add a Little Pattern Play

If colors and lighting aren’t doing it for you, you can always add some cool summery patterns to your room to bring that carefree feeling back. Something as simple as adding a poster to your wall with a bold wave pattern or a playful black and white print on your bedding can really add some visual texture and vibe with the whole summertime feeling you’re working to create.

TIP #5 – Throw on Some Tunes

If you really want to liven up the mood, add in some music while you’re chilling in your room. Simply throwing on what you’d typically listen to in the summer can bring back those lifted feelings and have you kicking back. Just be sure to clear it with your roommate first – not everyone may be a fan of your – ahem – unique music tastes.

CLOSING THOUGHTS
Remember, when you’re starting to feel the blues from the darker days and cooler temperatures, you can always turn your room into a summertime oasis. You can totally capture the carefree feelings of the summer all year long with the right lighting, bold colors and patterns, tropical scents, and the right tunes.

Dealing with Specialty Diets and Food Allergies in College

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When it comes to campus life and trying to balance classes, homework, and an attempt at a social life, what you can eat is often the last thing on your mind.  But if you’re someone who suffers from food allergies or is on a restricted diet, figuring out what you can eat and actually getting your hands on it should totally take priority.  After all, how can you manage everything else if you’re starving or in serious stomach pain?

What if you are trying out the vegetarian or vegan lifestyle? How about a gluten intolerance? Cafeterias aren’t known for being the most friendly to restrictive diets, although they are getting better.

Without further ado, here are our top three tips for dealing with specialty diets and diet restrictions on campus.

TIP #1 – DO YOUR RESEARCH

Step number one is definitely to break out your laptop and do some research on restaurants, cafes, and shops around your campus.  Even your school cafeteria may have some info or reviews online!  There are plenty of specialty websites out there that you can hit up for info depending on your diet or your dietary restrictions. 

If you can’t find any information online, you can always hit up the restaurant itself and ask for clarification on what you can eat.  Knowing where and what you can eat ahead of time will help you feel comfortable and confident when you head out, freeing up your mind to worry about other things instead (like that paper due tomorrow morning you haven’t started yet).

TIP #2 – ASK AROUND

If you can’t find the info you need browsing online, you can totally ask around to figure it out.  Ask your classmates, roommates, professors, anyone.  Someone you know may have the insight that you need to figure out where and what you can eat on campus.

Another great resource would definitely be the staff of your on-campus eateries.  If you’re not sure what you can have, ask to speak to the manager or one of the chefs to get their insight and opinions.  They will be able to provide you with an honest answer on what you can eat and may be able to even incorporate some of your food suggestions into the menu, too! 

TIP #3 – HIT UP THE GROCERY STORE

As always, one of the easiest ways to make sure that what you’re eating fits with your specialty diet or restrictions it to just make it yourself.  If you’re living in an apartment on campus with a kitchen or have access to one, whipping something up for yourself to eat that you know is within your restrictions is totally the safest thing to do.

If you don’t have access to a kitchen or really have the time to cook for yourself, pick up some healthy snacks to stash in your room and bags for when you’re in desperate need of a pick-me-up.  That way, you have something you can eat if you need to in a pinch, like an unexpected late night study session or night out on campus.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Remember, if you have dietary restrictions you can still totally eat on campus.  Just make sure to do your research, ask around if you need help, and hit up the grocery store if you need to for snacks and other goodies.  All of this can absolutely help you feel more comfortable and less stressed on campus!

I Hate My Roommate!

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Roommate playing video games

Maybe you were expecting it, or maybe not. The roommate seemed like such a nice person on move-in day…! They say you never truly know someone until you live with them. There is no harsher reality then moving into your freshman dorm with a complete stranger. You can hit the lottery and find your best friend, or it can seem like a living hell.

Schools use a very flawed system  to make the best matches possible. Information provided on student housing questionnaires just scratches the surface of what it will really be like living with someone. But inevitably — rules will be broken, limits stretched and established habits discarded. Some personalities just don’t click even when everything looks good on paper.

It’s a life lesson.

An annoying roommate can be the first time that young adults have to deal with conflicts that cannot be immediately changed. In the past, if conflict arose, our room at home may have been a safe space where you could get away from everyone for a while. However, with a troublesome roommate this is no longer the case where the small dorm rooms provide little privacy and personal space.

Here are our top 5 roommate conflict tips:

  1. Remember this is a time of transition and adjustment for both of you. Things may work themselves out, if you give it the chance to do so.
  2. Examine your own expectations. Focus on the positive aspects of the situation. This isn’t forever — next year you’ll have more choice and control about where you live and who you live with.
  3. If an issue comes up with your roommate, try to open up a dialogue that can lead to resolution. You may both need to budge a bit. Compromise is a great skill to learn.
  4. Establish clear boundaries in terms of your space and your stuff. It’s a good rule not to share clothing and expensive items.
  5. Get to know your RA (Resident Advisor). They are there to help mediate conflicts and keep the residence hall running smoothly and it will be easier for your RA to support you if you have a friendly relationship.

Ongoing interpersonal conflict in what’s supposed to be a “safe space” can wreak havoc on your academic and personal life. If your roommate situation becomes hostile or causes emotional or physical problems, it may be time to request a new roommate or explore the possibility of a single room.

The good news about roommates

Even with bumps along the way, most roommate relationships are successful or at least tolerable. Stress and drama will be minimized if both parties are willing to communicate and respect one another. The hated roomie may become a dear, lifelong friend after both have grown up a bit during the challenging early months of college.

Freshman Year is a Time to Reinvent Yourself

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College Freshman

Freshman year of college is like being given a blank slate or a free pass. No one knows who you are or about how you embarrassed yourself that one time in second grade. You’re given a second chance, of sorts, to be the person you’ve always wanted to be. Sound great? It is! Here’s how you can reinvent yourself during your freshman year of college.

Start Journaling or Visioning

Part of being confident is having a sense of self. That’s not easy to restart once you’re eighteen or older. But one way you can prepare is by journaling or visioning who your perfect person is. Maybe she’s smart and sweet, or perhaps he’s funny and outgoing. Whatever it is, start jotting it down.

Not a writer? No problem. Vision boards are the perfect way to see it all on paper without having to put it into words. Grab some magazines or a printer and cut out words, phrases, quotes, images, graphics, etc. that inspire you or remind you of where you want to be. Lay it out in a way that resembles a roadmap for your next year.

Stay Realistic

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will be your new self. You’ll fall back into bad habits, especially if it’s a trait that’s been ingrained in your mind. Very few people decide to be athletic and then go running every morning. You’re not a light switch.

Instead, make incremental changes. And then, reward yourself for when you do well. For example, if you’re trying to be more personable or social, treat yourself to something nice when you make an effort to meet new people or go to an event. Those little rewards pay off.

Change the Outside With the Inside

No, we’re not talking about your looks. We’re talking about the clothes you wear, the look of your bedroom, or the way you rock your makeup. All these little outward things do have an effect on the inside.

When you wear a pair of killer heels, how do you feel? What about when you stay at a luxury hotel room? In both cases, your inside probably feels similar to a rock star. That’s because the setting matters. Surround yourself with things that make you feel like a new person, and you’ll become that new self.

Embrace Your Best Self

Reinventing your total self is probably not going to happen. And plus, you don’t want to lose what truly makes you happy. So decide what you can and can’t get rid of. Instead, find a way to work it into your new personality.

You love playing video games but want to make friends outside that space? Great! Don’t throw out your system yet. Use that love of video games to start a club or make events for other gamers. Teach your new roommates how to play or volunteer with kids and teens.

Remain Positive

We have already mentioned that it takes time to create a new persona. The wait can be the hardest part of your transformation. But, no matter what, you need to keep a positive, forward-thinking attitude.

It won’t be easy, and your change may not be as simple as you think, but if you remain in the right headspace, you can reinvent yourself in time for your freshman year.

Thinking of a Gap Year? Here’s What You Need to Know

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The Royals do it. Malia Obama did it. Why not you? Gap years, or a delay in starting college, is becoming more and more trendy. But what is a gap year, and should you take one? We break it down to help you make this difficult decision.

What is a Gap Year?

Gap years are defined as a literal gap between high school and college. For most US high schoolers, summer break is all you get between graduation and college orientation. But across the pond, where gap years are common, it’s usually a 1-2 year period “off.”

What you do with your gap year is up to you. Some people decide to work full-time while others relax. Traditionally, gap years are spent volunteering and traveling. Whatever you decide, your time off should be beneficial to you and your reason why.

Reasons to NOT Take a Gap Year

Sounds great, right? A full year break from school may seem like a dream scenario, but there are some pretty big cons you need to consider. Here’s why you shouldn’t go for a gap year:

You’re Interested in a Competitive Program

Harvard doesn’t wait for just anyone. Even though Malia Obama was able to defer her entrance into the top college in the United States doesn’t mean you’ll get the same kind of offer. Deferring your start in an ivy league school or a competitive college program could mean losing your spot altogether. Is the risk worth it? That’s up to you and your future school.

Money’s Tight

Unless you plan on working during your gap, you better have the money to cash flow it. Whether you are planning on traveling or volunteering, all of that will cost you probably the equivalent of a year of your college tuition.

Your Family Isn’t On Board

While not completely necessary, not having the support of your family could ruin your time off — especially if you plan on crashing with them. Selling more traditional parents on gap year could be trickier than you think.

Reasons TO Take a Gap Year

On the other hand, all the risks you take may be worth it. Maybe these reasons can make your decision easier.

High School Was Stressful

If you were a ball of stress and anxiety in high school, a gap year might get you back on the right foot. A year off to explore your interests, find yourself, and could help you better prepare mentally and emotionally for college.

Money’s Tight

While we talked about money being a potential issue, if you plan on working during your year off, a gap could be in your favor. A year’s worth of work could get you the work experience you need and help you save for future tuition costs.

You’ve Got a Heart for Service

If you want to make a difference in the world, you don’t need to wait until college ends. There are many programs out there that will take those 18 and over and help them find their place in the world. You may build homes, serve in disaster areas, teach English abroad, etc. Whatever you decide, you’ll make the most of your time away from school.

Taking a gap year can greatly benefit those that use it to their advantage. It is important to discuss your options with your parents or guardians before making such a decision. But, if you feel it is right for you, dive in head first and enjoy everything that a gap year has to offer!

How to Find Your Dream Major

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graduation-advice-post-graduation

If you’re reaching the end of the year with continued anxiety over your chosen major, it might be time to reconsider. Changing your major can seem overwhelming, but you shouldn’t feel undue pressure over it. The truth is that you’re not out of time to change your mind, even if this is your last semester! You don’t want to live the rest of your life wondering, “What if….?”

However, there is a point to be made that everyone experiences some major doubt over the course of their college career. There might be a few rare people who never waiver, but for everyone else, picking a major isn’t an easy decision. If you’re really considering switching, ask yourself these questions before you do anything drastic (or neglect to do anything at all).

What Makes You Happy?

This might seem like the most obvious question out there, but there’s a reason it’s first. Don’t just consider what things you like — which TV shows, theme park rides, sports, bands, whatever. Those are great but think big picture.

Are you fulfilled by pushing yourself to complete the next puzzle? Consider careers in medicine, government, or even air traffic control.

Maybe you want to see new people and visit exciting places. The United States has 270 embassies that need Foreign Service staff. You could be a pilot or teach English abroad.

There are many things that might make you happy, but ultimately you can narrow it down to the next question.

How Can You Best Achieve That Happiness?

This is where reality kicks in. Maybe you like the idea of solving puzzles for a job, but you can’t imagine going to school for seven years to become a doctor. Maybe you do want to travel, but you can’t learn languages to save your life.

That’s okay; it doesn’t mean that you can’t do what makes you happy just because you lack a skill in one area. Instead, focus more on how you can work in a field that interests you. Take personality tests, visit your school’s career counselor, and research thoroughly. There are definitely dozens of jobs in the field that you’ve never heard of.

And if you really can’t find an existing way to do what you want to do, be an entrepreneur! They represent 10 percent of the workforce, and you’ll be in good company. Getting to set your own hours and be your own boss are pretty powerful perks. Not everyone has what it takes to be an entrepreneur, but if you’re driven enough to get to this point, chances are that you do.

What Will Get Me There?

The last piece of the puzzle is to consider what path you have to take to get your happiness. Sometimes it’s pretty straightforward. Wanna be an engineer? Get an engineering degree. Wanna be a lawyer? Go pre-law, and get your J.D. afterward. In some cases, you might not love your new major, but remember that it’s getting you to a larger goal.

Sometimes, though, it’s less laid out for you. Most jobs have several related degrees. A lot will just care that you have the relevant experience or even just a minor in the field. Some jobs won’t care at all what your degree is in, just that you have one.

You can take some time to ask yourself all these questions, but don’t let them sit on the backburner for too long. Eventually, you’ll have to make a decision. When you do, look up what classes you need to take and get a plan in place. Years down the road, you’ll be glad that you took the time now.

How to Add Splashes of Color to Your Bedding

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dorm room styles with splashes of color

You don’t have to be an HGTV design star to transform your dorm room or bedroom. In fact, all it takes is a little creativity and a good eye for color — especially for accent colors. Accent colors are the shades that pop out against neutrals. They brighten the room and help tell a story. To help you get started with building an accent palette, we’ve compiled our favorite accent color combinations we know you’ll love.

OCM Pink and Black bedding set

Hot Pink and Black

Almost every girl we know has rocked this combination at least once in their life. It’s fun, it’s flirty, and it’s oh-so-easy to do. The trick to upgrading this look from your high school bedroom to adulthood is not going with any crazy pattern combinations. Toss out the zebra print and say goodbye to damask. Solid black with flashes of hot pink is the way to go.

Fire Engine Red and Cream

There’s something about red that reminds us of our favorite beach towel. It’s bright and bold, and it has that little bit of fun that makes it a great bet for your linens. We especially love it in stripes and chevrons. By not going with white as the base, it’s a tad more muted and perfect for a sunny day or a warm night.

OCM Blue and White bedding sets

Vintage Blue and White

Do you remember your grandmother’s teacups? More than likely, they use a shade of blue we could only call “vintage.” It’s a pale sky blue that makes us instantly relaxed. When used in throw pillows or a fluffy blanket, it’s practically inviting the best sleep ever.

Grassy Green and Beige

Get your nature on with grassy green that sings. Green’s not a color that you see around much, especially in the bedroom. But we promise this color is a hit. Go more emerald in accent pillows for a luxe look. Use it in pillowcases or flat sheets and feel like you’re sleeping in a fresh field.

Rose Gold and Pink

We can’t have a post on accent colors without mentioning at least one metallic. Rose gold is the hot color of the year. And outside of your iPhone, it can certainly work in your diva-style bedroom. Go glittery with sequins like in an oversized pillow or add it to a bedside lamp. You’ll feel instantly more luxurious for it.

Burnt Orange and Purple

We’ve never been to India, but this color scheme puts us there. The pop of orange on purple is unexpected, and it takes careful attention to the right shades to work. You’ll want orange in smaller items like vases or desk accessories. Add orange silk sheets or a deeper orange toss blanket. Against the purple, it will surely make a statement.

OCM White and Yellow bedding sets

Sunny Yellow and White

Who doesn’t want to wake up with a smile on their face? A bright yellow room does just that! We love it when white is the only other color present. Think minimal. Then, add yellow in the big pieces — like a funky chair, a set of picture frames, or a lighting feature. This is a look you’ll love.

So there you have it! A list of a few of our favorite looks this year. Do you have another combo that you are looking to pull off or a favorite one from our list? Let us know!

Warm Hues and Evoking Emotions with Your Bed Linens

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Beautiful tonal bed sheets with laptop and coffee

Spring is in the air, the weather is warming up, and we’re beginning to dream of summer styles. When it comes to lightening up our room, the decor we focus on most starts right at the bed. Bed linens can be dramatic and bold or peaceful and serene. This spring and summer, we’re focusing in on the warm hues that are popping up everywhere we go. Here’s your guide on how to incorporate the top four colors of the season in your bedding style.

Sand Tan

Tan is probably not the color you think of when we say “warm hues.” But it’s a neutral you must know if you’re going to incorporate the rest of the colors in your bedding. Because so many of this year’s color schemes are beach based or Southern-inspired, tan fits in perfectly as a base. To find the right color, look for a tan that is more yellow than brown.

Canvas colored pillowcases with a faux textured detail will be all over stores this summer. They fit in with just about any other color or look you’ll go for, so be sure to grab one or two for your bed. You can also use canvas linens to create a romantic, Mediterranean canopy. Add string lights to the look, and you’ll feel as if you’re sleeping under the stars.

apartment decor with tan accents

Peachy Pinks

Peach is not everyone’s favorite shade on the color wheel, but the popularity of vintage has brought your Grandma’s lipstick color back to the front. Peach is an orange-leaning pink that resembles, well, the inside of the fruit. It’s a happy, go-lucky color that is an instant pick-up to look at without being too juvenile.

Fitting in peach can be tricky. Too much of it and your room can feel claustrophobic. Too little of it and it fades into the background. We recommend using peach in a medium-sized bed item that may not get much day-to-day use. For example, find a fuzzy peach toned throw blanket for the bottom of your bed or hang a peach-colored bedside organizer. You can even hide it in your flat sheets for an instant burst of happiness when you pull back your covers.

Hot Pinks

Forget “Millennial Pink.” This summer is all about the bright, in-your-face pinks that make you feel as if you’re about to burst out of your dorm and onto the best beach party ever. Hot pink is your go-to look if you’re vibrant and joyful or if you want bedding that is the focal point of your whole room.

To make it work, hot pink needs to be leveled out with a cold or neutral hue. More frequently, we see it paired with gold and bronze. And the color cannot be missed when it’s featured in polka dots on a white backdrop. Whether you paint your bed in a hot pink comforter or go demure with throw pillows or quilts, you won’t be regretting this color choice.

Pink bed sheets in a dorm room

Sunny Yellows

If you’re going for a beach party vibe but not feeling pink, there’s an alternative as cheery but slightly less daring: striking yellow! We’re not talking the water downed lemonade version. When we’re picking yellows this year, it’s the kind that reminds you of your brand new highlighter or a beach towel from your childhood. It should be the kind that jumps right off of your bed.

Like the peach, too much vivid yellow can go south fast. Instead, mix match it on a dark tone. Black works well, but you run the risk of the bumblebee pattern if you don’t throw in some white as well. Yellow also pairs well with an equally popping green in items like accent pillows or thin quilts. It may look cartoonish, but that’s what you want when you pick warm, bedroom hues that are made to lighten up everything they touch!