Moving away from the familiarity of your own home and into your new residence hall does not have to be scary, ugly or uncomfortable. In fact, it can be empowering to have a space to call your own.
Your dorm will act as your safe haven where you will escape the frenzy of campus life. How you design and organize your dorm may even affect how you feel and function, academically and socially. Don’t underestimate the power of a calm and cool space that truly feels like yours.
Before you hop in the car and head off to Target or other local store to get all the trendy pieces, first define how you want your space to feel. Think of adjectives that are true to you and your personal style. It is necessary when shopping that you keep those descriptive words and goals in mind, otherwise you will end up with a space that feels off. Also, take note of what you didn’t like in your room at home and, on the flip side, the items you loved and that could easily translate into your new space. For example, maybe you want to own a bit less and live more simply.
By taking these steps first, when you head into Target you won’t come out with the whole store in your cart (which is otherwise easy to do) because you have clear goals in mind and you may already own a lot of what you thought you had to buy new.
Here are a few simple ways to make your dorm feel familiar, comfortable and home-y.
Invest in sleep. A great foam mattress topper and comfy pillows and bedding will create a better sleep. And better sleep equals a more rested college student that is happier and healthier and ready to take on his or her day.
One noticeable difference is that the floor in your residence hall is probably a bit colder than at home. So, we suggest warming it up with a rug. Softer textures instantly make a space more inviting and comfortable.
Bring in the memories. Before you leave home, print off images of your dog, your best friends, your family or some of your greatest travel memories. Photo clip string lights will give it that “I saw it on Pinterest” vibe. Hanging your hat, bag or tapestry on the walls adds an unexpected twist. Find ways to display your trinkets and belongings that make the space look a bit more eclectic and feel a bit more you.
Add plants. Studies have shown that plants can sharpen focus, reduce stress and contribute to a variety of other health benefits. Simpler green plants can help a room look cleaner, more modern and polished. Pro tip: Potted or hanging plants can even help you cover up blemishes on your walls or unsightly cords running across the floor.
Because candles are not allowed in the residence halls for safety reasons, consider bringing in a diffuser with your favorite scents of essential oils for a calming effect.
Get creative with lighting. Twinkle lights, funky lamps or even adjustable LEDs are a great addition. (Check out our dorm tech post for more inspiration.)
If space allows in your chosen layout, add a reading chair that you can cuddle up in at night. It isn’t as formal as sitting at your desk and will be much cozier.
Keep your desk clutter free. Be intentional about what you place here. It’s where you will spend the majority of your focused homework time, so it has to be organized in a way that will set you up for success. Keep a few decorative items to add interest and flair but not too much where it begins to look like clutter.
Create a kitchen space with a bar cart that contains all of your favorite snacks. Keep it simple by only owning one or two bowls, plates, mugs, cups and silverware sets. (The more you own the more you will have to wash!)
What makes you feel at home in your dorm?
Danyel Moe '17 is a content specialist at Concordia.