Easy Ways to Make a Dorm Room Feel Like Home

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Leaving home and going to college is nerve wracking for any student. Walking into a dorm room and realizing that this itty-bitty cell with cinder block walls and a linoleum tile floor is going to be home for the next four years can deliver a whole new shock. Oh yeah, theres a roommate in there, too.

While most dorm accommodations arent exactly luxurious (or spacious), there are easy steps students can take to spruce it up and make it their own.

You dont have to spend a whole lot of money doing this, says Judith Reichardt, Shepherd University Bookstore Manager and interior decorator.You can do this pretty much on a shoe-string [budget].

A good living environment is important for a students success in college and should include a comfortable place to study or relax and tools to stay organized and centered. Here are some helpful tips from interior decorators and retailers about how students can personalize their dorm rooms without breaking the bank.

Mementos from home

When O.co President Jonathan Johnson sent his son off to college last year, he made a point to send along some tokens from home.

Make sure that there are some sentimental items; pictures of the family, or posters that hung in your room growing up, maybe a pennant or baseball cap from your favorite team, he says. Rahnel Romasanta, senior manager of design and merchandising with KODAK Gallery, says customized wall art of family and friends can help cover the putty-color walls.

A simple area rug not only makes a room feel homier, but it takes the shock out of the cold linoleum tiles on bare feet.

BeddingThe bed tends to be the main focal point of a dorm room, and the experts say that a snazzy set of sheets or a brightly-colored duvet can really make a difference in a drab room.

It could be very, very inexpensive to just do some fun bedding, whether its just the color of the sheets and pillows or if youre doing a skirt around it, says Reichardt. [It] can really dress up a room.

To help create more space for seating, Reichardt recommends students add pillows across the back of their bed to make it appear more like a sofa.

Some schools allow students to loft their beds to make room for a futon or small couch, which can open up a space and provide more seating, but be sure to check with school policies.


The experts attest that changing up the lighting in your dorm room can make a world of difference in how the room looks.

A lot of times, the lighting is so harsh in these rooms because its a bulb in the ceiling or a florescent light, says Johnson. We think its important to have soft light and lamps at your desk or somewhere in the room that can give it a little bit less of a prison-cell feel.

Floor and desk lamps can be inexpensive and versatile. If youre going for a funky and modern aesthetic, students can opt for a black lights or a lava lamp, says Reichardt.

Making the most of the space

Make the most of a small space by getting creative with storage and utilizing every inch of space.

Handy devices like a tree hanger (where one hanger neck hooks on to another) or a rack that holds multiple pairs of pants provides more space in a closet and can help keep students organized. Johnson also suggest students try over-the-door shoe racks or wall racks to create more space for storage.

The bed in the dorm takes up so much space, so you can utilize [it by putting] anything underneath it, like extra sheets and towels.

Another way students can save space and money is to talk to their roommate(s) ahead of move-in day to determine who is bringing what. No dorm has room for multiple mini-fridges or microwaves.

Its good to hook up with them early and say Ill bring this, you bring that, so theres not a lot of duplication because there is not that much room, says Reichardt.