Pinterest’s glorious dorm room pics promise young, naive freshman comfort, glamour, and trendiness. Rolling up on move-in day and being welcomed by a barely clean, monochrome, tiny space feels thoroughly disappointing. But don’t feel defeated before you’ve begun. You can make any space feel like home.
Keep reading for 10 ways to make your crappy dorm room look and feel like home.
1. Go shopping at Society6
Personalize your room and snag whatever shopping-list element you can’t seem to find at the same time with Society6. Search by color to ensure that you find something to match your room’s scheme and select whatever piece of art you like from their enormous and diverse selection. As cheesy as it sounds, there is something for everyone at Society6. Put it on a pillow, comforter, tapestry, poster, wall art or even furniture. This will allow you to display your personality through whatever piece you choose, and brighten your room with a semi-customized practical work of art that you love.
2. Make space for a big mirror
Double the size of your tiny room instantly with a big mirror. The reflection of the mirror is not only useful for helping you look your best, but creates the illusion that you could step through the mirror to a larger space. It breaks up the solid enclosure of the likely-off-white walls and the reflection is guaranteed to match your room (Because it’s actually your room).
3. Give the floor flavor with a cozy rug
You probably don’t want to show off the shag-carpet floor or the mystery-stained tile in the bathroom. (If your dorm has wood floors, you wouldn’t be reading this, anyway.) Cover it up with a cozy rug that fits your room’s vibe. Plus, stepping down onto something soft makes a world of difference. Just like the walls, the floor is your shot to make the room feel like it’s really yours. A geometric pattern can add vibrancy, while a more muted rug will pull conflicting elements together.
4. Shed some light
One weak ceiling light in the middle of a sub-200 sq. ft. room can feel really cold and harsh. Add fairy lights and lamps to warm up the room. Buy the fairy lights with a remote to control the color and flashing. A little strobe light action can make a small party feel bigger and more legit. And when you set up your furniture, pay attention to how the light from the window (hopefully windows) falls on you as you hang out or do work. The quality of lighting in a living space is scientifically proven to impact your mood and energy levels, so go ham with those lights.
5. Be Bold with Framed Art
Whatever vibe you’re going for, New York apartment or hippie chic, large pieces of art will give your room that extra edge of put-togetherness. People will be taken aback by how mature your room feels. Art fills up a drab wall and distracts from the low quality of the room. Put it in a spot where it can be illuminated by a window or your artificial lights to maximize this effect.
6. Strategize your Storage
Your furniture arrangement needs to maximize space in the room. It should also create the optimal vantage point for when you’re perched on your bed. Lofting your bed creates space for storage underneath. Plus, it allows you to look down on the room from higher up, giving the illusion of a bigger space. Create more open space in the room by ensuring that anything that you don’t use on a daily basis that takes up space, and isn’t super enjoyable to look at, is stored somewhere out of sight. Need a drying rack? Ironing board? Extra hamper? Make sure they fold down for easy storage. Better yet, spend a semester taking note of the things you never use and leave them at home next time.
7. Pick a color scheme and stick to it
Coordinate with your roommate before you buy anything for the room. Devise a plan then stick to it. Think about it this way: If you have a big task, you might color code the information so the task seems more manageable. If you and your roommate don’t create a continuity of design throughout the room, it will look divided, and maybe even smaller or more chaotic.
8. Shake it up with shelving
Little things clutter up your desk space in seconds. Install lightweight DIY shelving above your bed to create a home for all of your knick-knacks that you couldn’t bear to leave at home. You can achieve this look with small wooden crates hung sideways, or with popsicle sticks and hot glue. Personalize your room and flex those creative muscles using geometric shapes.
9. Display something in an unexpected way
Hang your tapestry on the ceiling instead of the wall. Pin up your jewelry on a cork board. Using something in an unconventional way will make you feel crafty, remind you that you put thought into how your room all comes together and make everybody who comes to visit wonder why they never thought of that idea themselves.
10. Include an element that you can change up whenever you want
Whether you choose a whiteboard, photo collection or seasonal decoration, include something super temporary in your room design that won’t take up much room to store replacements. Clothespins to hang pictures make this really easy and remind you of different memories periodically. It’s important when living in a small space to bring in something new every so often. It’s like a breath of fresh air in a potentially suffocating space. My roommate and I change the whiteboard on the front of our door every month, writing our names in different fonts and drawing seasonal pictures. Since it’s always relatively fresh, coming home to our door never fails to make me smile. Even our hallmates look forward to our updates.