Careers & Education

How to turn a college dorm into home

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A college student has some tips on how to turn a college dorm into home

You’re away from home for your first year of college. You find yourself in a new location, amongst other eager students, and hauling your bedroom décor and supplies into a small new living space.

Turn that closet-like dorm room into your home away from home with a few simple decorating ideas.

Bed linens

The main focus of every dorm room is that bare, sterile dorm mattress and bed frame. You’ll find that it becomes seating for friends, a couch while watching movies, a work area, and a cuddly bed after a long college day. For a piece of furniture that serves multiple purposes it needs functional linens.

Other than typical linens, a duvet and duvet cover provide a comfy top layer for seating – protecting your sheets from rowdy friends. A duvet is also thick enough to keep you warm in the winter, given that your college is up north or has spotty heating. Get a colorful or patterned duvet cover in order brighten up your bed and room.

Bed risers also help to make your low to the ground bed, feel more like a couch in the daytime.


Dorm rooms are known for their awful fluorescent lighting, which flickers and casts a harsh white light upon the walls.

Don’t underestimate natural light that streams through the windows. Instead of using the black-out blinds that come equipped in dorm rooms, hide those in the closet and hang some curtains. Light, gauzy curtains let in lots of light while still provide coverage from any peeping toms.

A powerful floor lamp can work wonders to brighten up a dorm room with soft light. Smaller desk lamps for each work area are necessary for late-night cramming sessions while a roommate tries to sleep.

DIY lighting ideas add that final touch of charm to a dorm room. Creative colored string lights can be hung around the ceilings, wound around bed frames, and even used to outline hanging mirrors. These lights can even be wrung around metal frames to create a faux chandelier.


There’s a reason why almost every college dorm room is outfitted with posters and pictures on the walls. Posters are cheap, colorful, and make great conversation starters. Hang up a poster of your favorite band, quote, or television show to add instant personalization to your side of the room. If there’s ever a time to indulge in typical dorm room décor it’s freshman year, so hang up those posters of The Office, Bob Marley, Keep Calm and Carry On, and Coexist.

Consider buying a large floor rug to distract others from the dull linoleum tiles. Cheap rugs add color and an additional seating area. If you’re careful not to ruin it, a Flokati rug is incredible to have in a dorm room – it’s soft, beautiful, and sure to be the envy of your friends.

Add something alive to your dorm room. While most colleges have rules against pets, a plant is a low-maintenance addition to your dorm. Or you could buy a small goldfish or beta fish to keep in a small bowl. Having a fish or plant to greet after a long day is uplifting.  


I bet your bedroom at home is filled with personal memorabilia and pictures of friends and family. Bring some of those memories with to college.

Picture frames with your best friends can be placed on your desk or on your shelving. Pick some of your favorite pictures, print them out at a drug store, and create a collage of pictures on your wall with some scotch tape. Blow up one favorite image to life-size proportions and hang it on your closet door. There’s no limit when it comes to ways to display pictures.

Have a few favorite books? Bring them with to display in your bookcase. Your whole collection may take up too much room but a shelf can house a few favorites. Trust me you’ll love re-reading a familiar book when you’re feeling homesick.
It doesn’t take much effort or cash to turn a college dorm room into a home. Be sure to add unique touches that represent your interests. Bright colors in linens, pillows, and a rug create visual appeal. Lighting adds warmth in place of sterile florescent lights. Don’t forget to decorate the walls with posters and pictures. Every little area that can house a personal trinket will create a homey effect.

Don’t underestimate the effect of having a personal haven; a space of your own in college.

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