How to Make Your Dorm Room Feel Less Like a Prison Cell

Dorm rooms are pretty plain and ugly, but these tips will help make your dorm less like prison and more like home.

It’s a well-known, unfortunate fact that dorm rooms don’t exactly ooze hominess. In fact, if they ooze anything, it’s either the stark, bright whiteness of a hospital, or the dingy, unwelcoming nature of your local county jail. Are you excited yet?! Before you decide to just give up and move back in with your parents, consider these tips for making your room look and feel like it houses a functioning, free-roaming adult (with personality!).

1. Fill your room with stuff you actually like.

It may sound obvious, but it’s worth mentioning that you’ll be happiest in your dorm room if it’s decorated with stuff you actually like. In other words, don’t just drag in your brother’s old, stained duvet cover and some bath towels you found in your parents’ attic. Make an effort to find some affordable stuff you actually dig. (By the way, don’t be afraid of a little color coordination. There’s something instantly appealing about bedding that matches the bath towels. Who designed this place, Martha Stewart?!)

Nothing says “prison cell” like a white carpeted box, so find cool, classy ways to dress your walls in things you love.

2. Be smart about space.

Best case, your room will only be slightly smaller than the one you grew up in; worst case, your entire living area will be the size of a closet (making your closet the size of a European phone booth.) Regardless of how much land you're allotted, make the most of every square inch: use a plastic set of drawers that you can wheel under desks and counters, and buy bed risers to make space for more storage. Oh, and maybe don’t bring every sweater you’ve ever owned since the 8th grade. The more stuff you bring, the more cramped you’ll feel.

3. Know that lighting is everything.

Dorm room lighting is notoriously terrible -- it’s either so fluorescent it gives everyone in its wash a headache, or it’s so dim you can barely figure out which socks match which. Bring your own lighting options and get creative with them. Christmas lights aren’t only for December. Just saying.

4. Don’t let your walls sit there stark, naked, and alone.

Nothing says “prison cell” like a white carpeted box, so find cool, classy ways to dress your walls in things you love: photos of friends and family, postcards you’ve collected from traveling, pictures of Ryan Gosling looking very, very shirtless -- you know, whatever makes you smile. Just avoid the whole “Bob Marley Set Against a Tie-Dye Background” thing. You want your room to say “unique and comfortable”, not “I am definitely, absolutely, undeniably in college.”

5. Now that your space is set up, try to keep it clean.

Look, no one’s telling you to turn into a total neat freak overnight. Just make sure your room isn’t consistently covered in the last 18 outfits you wore and wrappers from snacks you eat during study sessions. When you keep your room clean, it will feel bigger and you’ll actually want to spend time in your space, and you won’t have to be embarrassed when fellow co-eds come over for, you know, various purposes.

So there you go – you’ve turned into a total decorating expert, and you don’t even have a degree in interior design. But hey, maybe your school offers one…

Quick Tips

  • Don’t cramp your room with stuff you hate.
  • Use your limited space wisely.
  • Give lighting a second thought.
  • Make an effort with your walls.
  • Clean up on a kind of consistent basis.

People Who Read This Also Read:

Dorm Essentials: A Freshman’s Dorm Checklist
Dorm Life 101
Dorm Packing Tips for Every Type of Student
DIY Holiday Decor: 5 Festive Dorm Ideas

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