Home Sweet Dorm

Throw pillows are magic. Pictured: Laryssa Shnell's room | PC: Danica Eylenstein

Throw pillows are magic. Pictured: Laryssa Shnell's room | PC: Danica Eylenstein

Making a dorm room feel cozy can be challenging. Plain walls, a shared space, and not a whole lot of room—as is, this type of environment isn’t the most hospitable for creating a relaxing living atmosphere. Thankfully, with some effort and creativity, dismal dorm rooms can go from drab to fab.

 The five senses play a large part in creating a welcoming environment. Little touches in each area will go a long way.


 Warm lighting sets a relaxing tone for a room. Forget about using harsh overhead lights and consider implementing some simple alternatives. Open up the blinds and let natural light in during the day. For additional warm lighting, set up a strand or two of fairy lights or a desk lamp. Make the space your own. Add personal touches such as photos, wall art or whatever interests you.

Laryssa Schnell, junior elementary education major, says, “I think when it comes to making my room my own, I want to incorporate things I really like. I have plants along my windowsill—I love plants! I think making the space alive, like it’s lived in, goes a long way.” Isaac Lindsay-Borja, sophomore nursing major, adds, “I think the reason we keep our room festive is because, what’s the point of walking into your room each night and not enjoy even being there?”

Whether it’s a color, a pattern, or an object, having a theme for your room helps. Katie Buxton, freshman business administration major, shares, “Something that’s really important to me is color matching. When I go dorm shopping, I always try to incorporate the same colors, even if it’s just in the details.”

 Schnell chose a travel theme, particularly globes and maps. Now when she’s out, she keeps an eye out for things she knows will fit nicely with her room’s aura. Another important tip is to keep your room clean! A clean room looks and feels more refreshing. Sophomore biomedical science major, Daisy Muga, agrees one way to make your dorm feel like home is by keeping it clean. Baskets and storage bins are a great way to stay organized in this area.

Filling up blank wall space helps liven things up. Pictured: Katie Buxton's room | PC: Danica Eylenstein

Filling up blank wall space helps liven things up. Pictured: Katie Buxton's room | PC: Danica Eylenstein


 Even though burning candles is a big dorm-living no-no, entirely saying goodbye to scents isn’t necessary. In fact, Schnell suggests using essentials oils and a diffuser, which will add to the at-home-vibe you might be seeking. If a diffuser is a bit out of your budget, wax melts and warmers or electric candle warmers are a few inexpensive alternatives.


Some people prefer a quiet room, while others need some noise. If you can relate to the latter, open up a window and get some sound from the outdoors or turn on some music. Just keep in mind that you may have neighbors who aren’t interested in hearing your music through closed doors, so be considerate of noise levels.


A few basic kitchen essentials go a long way when living in a dorm. Get a hot water kettle or a coffee pot and make hot drinks in your room instead of making a Starbucks run. If you’re a fan of filtered water, a water filter pitcher helps alleviate the need of running to the lobby to get water from the fountain.


Comfort is necessary to create a space suitable to call a home-away-from-home. Small additions such as pillows, stuffed animals and extra blankets provide the coziness needed to unwind after a long day.

Some dorm rooms have flooring while others have carpet. Either way, adding an area rug helps break things up and become cozier. It will also help during the winter months when the laminate is cold.

If space allows, consider adding some alternative seating options such as a futon, storage ottoman, or a chair. This gives visitors a place to sit other than your bed, providing a distinction from the typical dorm room. Buxton  summarizes, “My friends like to sit in my chair and it makes it feel like a community room, which is nice since I live by myself.”

Whatever your dorm style is, find something that works for you. If you need some help, Pinterest has tips for all your dorm needs.