Moving into a college dorm is always a little overwhelming—even for upper classmen who’ve done it before. It’s never easy leaving the comfort and familiarity of home. But being able to turn a drab, empty space into something that’s special and yours helps make the transition easier. With that in mind, here are 10 ways to make a dorm room feel like home.
1. The Bed
Okay, I know that buying all the stuff you need for college can be really expensive, so it’s tempting to cut corners where you can, but this is one thing that you shouldn’t be frugal about.
Your bed is where you’re going to spend roughly half of your time (probably way more than half tbh), and what’s going to keep you rested enough to face all of the activities and assignments you have going on throughout your semester.
Since dorm beds are known for being the worst (it’s a fact), I would recommend buying as much cushioning material as you can. Get that mattress cover, mattress pad, and a foam mattress topper.
It sounds like overkill, but you will thank me when you’re sleeping like the dead and waking up feeling super rested but your roommate is tossing and turning on her basic, school-issued, cardboard lump of a mattress like the girl from the princess and the pea.
Another thing you can do to make yourself feel more comfortable is to bring sheets, pillow cases, and a ton of blankets from home instead of buying new ones. You’ll sleep better on things that smell like home and (bonus!) it’s free.
2. Throw pillows
Who doesn’t love falling asleep nestled in the middle of a pile of fluffy pillows? Crazy people, in my opinion.
Bringing some throw pillows to dress up your dorm room is always a good idea. They’re the perfect way to tie a decorating scheme together, to add a pop of color, or extra seating. (if the pillows are big enough)
3. Gallery Wall
This is a cool option for those of us who like having artwork hanging around. (Ha, see what I did there?)
Dorm room walls are always terrible to look at because they’re tan and cold and sometimes concrete. No one wants to look at that every day, it’s depressing.
So, here’s what you do. Go buy some command strips or hooks, find some art work that you really love, and go to town.
Making a gallery wall is all about self-expression, so the placement and subjects on your wall can be anything you want. It can have a theme and a design scheme, or it can be totally mixed-up and mismatched. The whole point is to make something that’s yours.
One step further (and a little simpler) than doing a gallery wall is to buy a tapestry (or more than one) and hang it up over the wall. They can really brighten and liven up the space.
Tapestries are a great option because you can find one of almost anything, and if you can’t find what you’re looking for you can always have what you want made relatively cheaply.
If you’ve ever been in a dorm room, you will have noticed that the floors are gross.
It’s impossible to miss the years of built up dirt and stains that are all over the place, no matter how well the janitors swear they cleaned up before you arrived.
Getting a fluffy rug will help, both by covering up the gross floor and making your bare feet happy when you walk around. And the good news is that no matter what your budget is, you can find a rug that fits what you’re looking for.
Futons, bean bags, saucer chairs, and tables, coffee tables—you name it, I can guarantee that adding it to your dorm room will make you feel 1000% more at home.
You could put together a coffee station, stack a mini fridge and a microwave for a makeshift kitchenette, put un a futon for extra seating and sleeping space. Really, your creativity (and maybe Ikea) can take you anywhere with this.
The only thing in your way with this is space. Most dorms are small, so you have to take that into account when you’re planning what to bring with you.
7. Study space
This. Is. Crucial.
You are going to be studying like crazy a lot of the time while you’re in school. At least, you should be. After all, it’s the real reason you’re in a college dorm room to begin with.
So, you should start out by making your study space as organized and comfortable as possible. Things like desk organizers, cute containers for all of your containing needs, and baskets are great for managing the inevitable clutter.
It’s also a good idea have a corkboard for notes, reminders, and to place some pictures of friends and family on.
Dorm lighting sucks. It’s always harsh and glaring, no other options. To solve this problem, most students bring or buy their own lights.
Lamps, Christmas lights, and small fairy lights are all smart options for giving yourself a little bit of softer light that won’t blind you at 12AM when you’re cramming for finals. These options also provide a little bit better atmosphere for your space.
9. The bathroom
Some dorms don’t have private bathrooms, but those that do can be transformed into a replica of the bathroom you know and love at home with a few simple steps.
Buying baskets, shelves, and baskets to store all of your toiletries and towels can dramatically change the way your bathroom looks and feels and it will help you keep everything organized. For that, your roommate will thank you, and you’ll thank yourself when you’re in a hurry to get ready for that 8AM lecture. (free advice: never take an 8AM anything)
Shower curtains and bath mats can also help make your space more like home and a bathroom rug will keep you from dripping water all over the floor when you get out of the shower as well.
10. Keepsakes from home
Lastly, the most obvious thing that will make your dorm room feel like home is to bring your favorite things from home.
Stuffed animals, blankets, old ratty bath robes, a photo album—whatever makes you feel connected to your family and your childhood.
Moving to college is a big adjustment, but making your dorm room feel like home is a big step towards adjusting to your new life.