Whether you’re getting ready to go away to college, or you’ve already moved onto campus, your new home is your dorm. For two years or so, you’ll share a small room in a dorm hall with a roommate. While you’ll want to spend time elsewhere, your dorm will be one of your primary spaces to study, to hang out with friends, and to try to get some alone time.
So, we encourage you to treat your dorm room as you would your home. That takes balance. You don’t want it to feel totally empty, but you don’t want it overcrowded, either. And, let’s face it, the latter is more likely to be a problem, considering how limited dorm room space can be.
Here are our tips to help you make your dorm room feel like home.
Limit What You Bring
It’s tough to overstate this fact: dorm rooms are small. Yes, there are exceptions, and maybe you’ll be one of the lucky few who gets a spacious dorm room to share with your roommate, but unless you know for sure, assume it’ll be smaller than you expect.
Of course, you can always ask your college admissions office for the room layout and dimensions, and you can do some Internet research. Find out not only the size but what the school provides. There are sure to be two beds, and possibly a couple of desks and chairs. Also, coordinate with your roommate. There are some items a room needs only one of. Both of you can share a mini-fridge and a coffee machine. If you do wind up with too much, consider sending some things back to your parents’ place or renting a small self storage unit.
Bring clothes, your sheets, pillows, and some pictures for the wall. We’ll cover some of this momentarily.
Limit Your Purchases
Once you’ve moved in and are living full-time in your dorm room, be smart about your purchases. Before you buy anything substantial, consider a few things.
What will you do with it after college? For example, you may have found some cheap plastic bins in which to keep your clothes under your bed. They may seem charming in college, but after, will they seem like junk? You might want to get something nicer, even if it’s a bit more expensive.
Does the item coordinate with the room? Part of making a place feel like home is having things that feel right together. So, does it match the color or style scheme?
Will it take up too much room? Maybe you’d like to get a comfortable chair. That might be an excellent idea. Just make sure it fits.
It’s Okay to Rearrange
Over time you may get tired of the layout of your room. If so, talk to your roommate about it. If you both agree, you can rearrange furniture to find a more comfortable configuration. When you do this, also think about it functionally. Do you want the room to feel optimized for studying, or for having friends over? Think about where people will sit for a study group or a social gathering, and arrange the room accordingly.
Decorate the Walls
Nothing quite fills a room with homey warmth like pictures on the wall. Yes, you can go buy some cheap posters, but do that only if the posters in question have real meaning for you. It’s best to decorate the walls with images of people and places you love.
One great idea is to get canvas prints. Costco and other stores offer these, and they’re surprisingly affordable. Get prints of cherished photos or favorite images. If you’re crafty, or if you have your own artwork, you can put that up as well.
Coordinate with Your Roommate
If you and your roommate have vastly different styles, your room can really clash. Talk to them and figure out if you can find a way to blend them. In the worst-case scenario, your side of the room may have one style, theirs something completely different. However, you may be able to get creative and blend your styles across the room to create a homey and unique look.
Keep Neat and Organized
A messy room never quite feels like home. There are two basic tricks to keeping your dorm room, or anywhere you live, neat and organized. First, don’t have too much stuff. It’s easier to keep your place clean when it isn’t cluttered. Second, straighten up every day. The longer you go without cleaning up, the more there will be to do. If you straighten up every day, it will be much easier.
Best of luck in college! We hope you have a wonderful educational experience and enjoy your dorm accommodations.