How to outfit your dorm room or apartment properly with local outlets and suppliers 

Dorm decor

click to enlarge City Bird + Nest

Alyson Williams

City Bird + Nest

If you're a true individualist — a true hipster, as the hip kids are saying — giant retail distributers like IKEA and Target just don't cut it. Sure, college kids need practical, cheap, and functional things to bring to college — things that these stores carry in bulk, with pleasure. But what about unique, interesting furniture pieces, decor, stationery kits, and the like? You'd be surprised by what you can find locally. In Michigan, particularly around college towns, eclectic furniture stores are common. You just have to look.

Though most dorms come outfitted with a desk, closet, dresser, and bedframe, there's so much more on the menu for students' consideration. Fred's Unique Furniture, located in northwest Detroit, is a great place to go for any bit of furniture you'd be looking for, big or small. They're one of the largest distributors in the Midwest, and prospective students could easily kill an afternoon in there in the quest for a perfect futon.

If you're not in metro Detroit, though, April's Antiques Home Furnishing in Lansing (ideal for MSU students) is a more than adequate alternative. CORT Furniture Rental has many locations throughout the state, too; so no matter where you are, you can find a great place to get some dorm furniture essentials.

At Refined Home in Rochester, Oakland University students can find a great refuge. It's a quick drive away, and customers can find plenty of antiques and vintage knickknacks. Similarly, City Bird + Nest in Detroit offers incredible outfitting essentials, especially convenient for Wayne State University kids. They're two neighboring shops in Cass Corridor with cute Detroit-themed stationery, wall decor, ornaments, etc., so you'll always remember your roots.

Here are a few other musts while shopping to give your dorm room that personal touch:

Anthropologie (locations at Somerset Mall, Ann Arbor, and downtown Birmingham): Sure, this is technically a chain, and most young women know it as a chic clothing store. But its lush home section is too often overlooked. With beautiful bedspreads, pillows, plates, cups, vases, wall decor, and much more, Anthropologie is almost a one-stop shop for any fashionable student.

Leon and Lulu (Clawson): Even if you don't buy anything, this old roller-skating rink-turned-funky retail shop is just so fun to sift through. It's chock-full of random goodies ranging in price that make perfectly quirky housewarming (or dorm-warming) gifts. Hear that, family members?

Sticks and Stones (Kalamazoo): Western Michigan University's students will love browsing in Sticks and Stones. Located in the Kalamazoo Mall, this store is the place to go for any wannabe dorm chef. They've got just about all you can think of for a tiny kitchen, and in a convenient location.

Also, be sure to check out Found (Ann Arbor): Self-labeled as "eco-funky," Found is a U-M staple for those looking for cool mugs, towels, throw pillows, and more.

It's easy to avoid those long lines at Target; you just have to look around. Sometimes, rare goods are closer than you think.

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