Transitioning from your cozy room at home to the blank canvas of a dorm can be a real culture shock. Cinder block walls and the same generic furniture in every room doesn’t exactly scream “homey”. But home is what you make of it, and taking your dorm from clinical to comforting doesn’t have to cost a crazy amount of time and money.
First, and most importantly: put stuff on your walls. I cannot emphasize enough how important this is. Keeping your walls blank and colorless is a perfect way to feel like you don’t really live there. You have so many options. Tapestries and posters are an easy choice. If you want to DIY instead of buy, make your own artwork, create a vision board or craft a photo collage. Even if you can only paint basic shapes or a color gradient it will add some life to the space. Photo collages don’t just have to be pictures of your friends. They could be album covers, movies and TV shows you like, or just some fun looking plants.
Secondly, don’t let the overhead fluorescents be your only light source. Get some color in your space with LEDs, some fairy lights or some good old fashioned Christmas lights. Do homework by the light of a cute desk lamp. Make more of a design statement with a neon sign, disco ball or sunset lamp. Or get creative and add some garlands or vines with your string lights. Spend $12 on a color-changing mushroom-shaped light that is absolutely supposed to be for children (not speaking from experience at all here). Keep your light sources fun and exciting.
Number three: if it can be fuzzy, make it fuzzy. Stepping down to the cold tile floor when you wake up for your 8 a.m. class in the middle of the winter is going to get old really fast. Get a nice soft rug and you can forget what your floor actually looks like under there. Sitting on your basic wooden desk chair gets so much better with a little cushion. Your walk down the hall to the bathroom can be improved exponentially by some fuzzy slippers. The dread of having to leave the warm shower can be solved with a big soft robe. The softer it is, the more it feels like home.
Take this advice extra seriously when it comes to your bed. However many blankets you think is a reasonable amount, add one. You need a big one for the winter, a lighter one for the summer and a throw blanket to cocoon into for comfort during finals week. Throw a nice big pillow up there so you don’t have to sit against the hard wall. And get a mattress pad. This campus is full of very smart people who I am sure had the foresight to bring a mattress pad, but if somehow you didn’t that needs to be fixed as soon as possible.
Fourth: don’t be afraid to get weird with it. Go to the clearance section of Homegoods and make some questionable choices. Finally buy that thing that has been sitting in your Amazon cart because you can’t decide if it’s cool or stupid. Get small ceramic dinosaurs from the dollar section of Target and put them on your windowsill (again, absolutely not speaking from experience).
Whatever hangups you had about trying to make your room at home “aesthetic” when you were in high school, leave that behind here. I’ve seen tapestries featuring everyone from Paula Dean to Gibby from iCarly. Whoever had that life size cutout of Ryan Gosling in their window last year in Meditz, you guys made me laugh every day. An additional well deserved shoutout goes to whoever set up that countdown to Christmas in their window in Kostka last year, watching those numbers steadily tick down was the only thing getting me through finals week.
You can try to be cute, you can try to be color coordinated or you can just be crazy. The possibilities are endless. No choice is too weird. College interior design is nothing if not chaotic, lean in while you have the chance.
And lastly, show your personality. Use your wall decor to showcase your talents or your favorite things. Have the kind of room where anyone can walk in and think “yeah the person who lives here is fun”. This little corner of campus belongs to you and only you, take advantage of it. Make sure to make it your own.