Unfortunately, many college students anxiously counting down the days to dorm living will kickstart their college experience with an unremarkable, dingy dorm room, easily mistaken for a 180-square-foot prison cell. Whether it’s the cold linoleum flooring, the harsh fluorescent lighting, or the metal blinds that break at the slightest tug, a bare dorm room fails to make a good impression on nervous freshmen navigating a college campus’ unfamiliar territory.
While such a tiny and unforgiving space doesn’t seem very promising, with just a little bit of effort, you can create an oasis insulated from the never-ending stresses of grade-defining tests and awkward social interactions with new friends. Your dorm room is the first place you’ll live in that isn’t owned by your parents, so infusing the space with your personality and making it entirely your own can be a liberating and exciting first step down the road to a college education.
Treat yourself to a mattress topper
The bare mattresses colleges provide in standard dorm rooms simply won’t cut it if you’re looking to get some quality sleep. Unfortunately, with dorm room rules and a distinctive twin-XL mattress size, replacing the standard dorm room mattress with your own isn’t always an option.
Though you may already have a mattress pad, the thin layers that protect your mattress from moisture, bacteria, and dust mites simply doesn’t provide enough padding necessary for comfort. Adding a mattress topper to your shopping list can help you get a good night’s sleep every night so you can stay awake and alert during your 9:00 A.M. classes all year.
Mattress toppers come in varying layers of thickness and consist of a wide range of materials. If you’re used to sleeping on a memory foam mattress, a memory foam mattress topper can transform an uncomfortable dorm room mattress into a bed that reminds you of home.
Remember, a good night’s sleep is vital to your academic success. Luckily, a high-quality mattress topper with a touch of luxury can help you achieve your doctor-recommended eight hours of sleep every night, regardless of how stiff or worn out your university-supplied mattress is.
Invest in good lighting
Chances are, the light fixtures in your dorm room are neither flattering nor sufficient for your needs. Studies have shown that traditional fluorescent lighting can affect your health, disrupting your circadian rhythms with blue light and making you feel dizzy with their flicker rate. If you’re finding that you have difficulty falling asleep with your ceiling lights on right before bed, it may be worth it to invest in a lamp with a warmer color temperature that won’t wreak havoc on your sleep routine. Buying string lights or color-changing LED light strips can be fun options for lighting if you’re looking for something that’ll add ambiance to your room and create a cozy feel.
Add a plush rug
Whether your dorm room flooring is a laundry room-type linoleum that never seems to be clean or an office-style carpet with mysterious stains from previous occupants, a real rug or carpet can completely change the environment of your room. Not only will it cover up anything offensive or questionable on your floor, but it can soften the entire feel of the room. Purchasing a thick, plush rug can also make rolling out of bed in the morning much more tolerable when you’re sinking your toes into something soft and luxurious instead of stiff, scratchy carpeting.
Buy some floor cushions
When you’re working with limited space in a dorm room, bringing in a couch or even a couple of extra chairs can clutter up your 180-square-foot space in a hurry. However, if you’re hosting a group of friends in your room before a night out or for an evening of reality TV, the issue of seating may leave your suitemates or houseguests relegated to the floor.
Luckily, buying some impromptu seating like stackable floor cushions or poufs can provide a space-saving solution to your problems. Not only are they comfortable for get-togethers, but they can be an easy way to switch up your seating options when you’re tired of sitting in your desk chair or in bed.
Take care of some plants
Adding a few green friends to your dorm room can instantly transform your room’s aesthetic while teaching you a little responsibility. Whether you’re willing (and able) to water your perpetually-thirsty Monstera, or you’re looking for a low-maintenance succulent, there’s a plant out there for every lifestyle.
If you’re known for your green thumb and have access to ample natural light, a fern is an easy choice. However, if you’re a college student on-the-go and can’t be bothered to devote significant time to keeping a plant alive, succulents might be the plant for you. If you have a track record of killing off innocent houseplants but still aspire for the natural look of scattered greenery, fake plants should do the trick.
Cover the walls
Unfortunately, most dormitories have a strict no-tolerance policy for thumbtacks or hammer nails, which can leave unsightly marks behind. But have no fear! You can still manage to conceal ugly cinder-block and dingy paint choices. Sticking vinyl decals or removable wallpaper to your walls is an easy way to transform your room from cold and cheerless to warm and inviting. If you’re looking to hang up photos or other pieces of decor, adhesive wall hooks will quickly get the job done. Just ensure that the products you purchase won’t strip paint off your dorm room walls or damage them in any way. Otherwise, you may face hefty fines when you move out at the end of the year.
Try out desk organizers
Unfortunately, your university-provided desk won’t come with unlimited space for all of your textbooks and class handouts. With the limited space in your room, your desk may have to become multi-purpose, serving as a vanity in addition to dedicated study space.
To make sure your room stays clear of clutter, invest in a desk organizer that can provide you with extra storage space. With a drawer organizer at your disposal, you can keep your collection of pens and sticky notes in order. Make sure that at all times, your desk is a space dedicated to productivity. Remember, keeping your workspace clean and organized can help your room feel bigger and polished and keep you on track for academic success.
The bottom line
Big or small, old or new, your dorm room will be the backdrop to caffeine-fueled all-nighters, mid-day snooze sessions, and even weekend get-togethers. Personalizing your room and transforming it into a calming and comfortable space can quell homesickness and help you succeed in school. Regardless of the style that you’re aiming for, funneling time and resources into a bedroom that cures post-exam anxieties will be a worthwhile investment.