dorm
It just takes a little bit of creativity to turn your space into a home away from home. (Illustration by Rachel Glucksman, Rhode Island School of Design)

8 Tips to Make Your Freshman Dorm Feel Like Home

How to turn your shoebox of a room into a cozy and inviting space, even if the furniture is really ugly.

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How to turn your shoebox of a room into a cozy and inviting space, even if the furniture is really ugly.

Summer is coming to a close and for many incoming college freshman, so is a huge chapter of their lives. Whether you’re moving 15 minutes or 15 hours away to school, it can be difficult to adjust to an unfamiliar setting with new people. Acclimating to your new campus can be hard and take some time, but making your dorm feel homey is one of the easiest things you can do to start the transition on a high note. Here are some tips for making your dorm feel like your home away from home.

1. Cozy it up

The very first thing you should tackle is finding items for your dorm that make it feel cozy. This could be pillows, soft blankets or bedding, and lots of home goods stores have cute and cheap options. Most college dorms look cold and uninviting when you first see them and including a few items that make you feel comfortable will set the stage for a homier room. After all, you’re going to be spending a lot of time in here so you might as well make it pleasant and comfortable.

In addition to making it comfy for yourself, make your dorm a warm an inviting space for all your new friends. If you have room, consider getting a futon or soft bean bags to provide space to comfortably hang out (and not have to squish together on your tiny bed or in a dorm common room). Turning your dorm into a social space will do wonders when trying to make it feel more welcoming.

2. Rearrange

After you get some basic comfort items, rearrange the furniture in your dorm (if the space allows.) Most furniture pieces aren’t bolted into the ground, so try moving things around to fit you and your roommates taste. Maybe you’ll get lucky and get your bed right next to a window.

The best thing about switching up the setup of your room is that you can do it anytime you feel like freshening up the space throughout the year. Things like decor and pillows can be a little harder to replace if you don’t have the money, but moving around the furniture is an easy and cost-free way to change up the scenery a little as the school year goes on.

3. Include some pieces of home (keyword: some)

Whether you have an important childhood memento or print out a few photos of friends and family, bringing personal items will help immensely in making your room feel more like your own. That’s not to say that you should bring every single piece of your childhood bedroom with you, but you should definitely bring a few of your most favorite memories with you to personalize your room.

Appreciating old friends is important, but a college dorm is a perfect place to make room for new memories. Scour local art shops in your new city, hang up mementos from fun events during your first year or print out pictures of you and your new friends. Having a mix of old and new will make your room feel homey, but also fresh and optimistic as you continue on your college journey.

4. Coordinate with your roommate

If you have a roommate, coordinating decoration ideas with them can be a fun way to bond and to make the entire space feel complete. It can be strange for one side of your dorm room to feel homey to you and the other side feel completely off. If you and your roommate have similar styles, this can help a ton to make the room as a whole feel cozy. Plus if you coordinate ahead of time, you can split the amount of items that you each have to bring so no one has to spend more money than necessary. It’s a win-win.

5. Add your signature scent

A fool-proof way to make any space feel more pleasant is to add your favorite scent in some way. A lot of dorms don’t allow candles, but using air fresheners or essential oil diffusers are simple ways to add a touch of familiarity to a room. Not to mention the fact that buildings college students inhabit can smell in other not so pleasant ways, so an air freshener of some type will come in handy.

6. Get festive

Some people get more homesick around big holidays, especially if they live too far away from home to go back for them. Decorating your dorm with festive touch won’t completely solve the problem, but it can help add some life once you’ve settled in.

Additionally, changing up the scenery every now and then will help make sure things don’t stay stagnant. Holidays are a great excuse to buy or make new decorations without committing to redoing your entire room.

7. Give some life to the space

If giving your room some life is all that it’s missing, try adding things like flowers and other plants to the space. Not only will they look nice, but they’ll give your room a boost of freshness. There are tons of plants like succulents that are easy to take care of during a busy college schedule. And if you still don’t want the responsibility of caring for a real plant, fake ones look just as nice.

8. Define what homey means to you

Even if none of these tips sound like they would make your dorm feel more homey, find what works for you. Think of places like local coffee shops or bookstores or any other place you feel at home and try to emulate that in your dorm. Not everyone feels at home in the same way, so it’s important to take some tips with a grain of salt and be able to apply them in a way that fits your personal style the best.

The beginning of freshman year is hard for most people, no matter how well some hide it. It’s important to ease into this new experience how you see fit. And while making your dorm comfortable won’t be the ultimate fix, it will at least always give you a sweet escape when adjusting to your first year.

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