Having gone away to school and experienced both dorm-life and apartment hunting, I’m no stranger to panicking over figuring out home-furnishing. I always want my living spaces to reflect who I am so that I can feel at home whether I’m in my hometown or away at school. The following are tips I follow to turn my house (or small, one bedroom apartment) into a home.

1. Hanging up pictures of friends and family

While I do have photos of friends and family hanging up in my room at home, I find this is especially helpful if you are living at any distance from your loved ones. That way, even if you aren't seeing them in person they can still be a part of your day to day life.

2. A little bit of mess

Whether that’s a bundle of pillows on the couch or a haphazard stack of magazines on a side table, having a little bit of organized clutter always seems to make a room feel a little more lived in. Fill it with things that interest you like puzzles, trinkets from past travels, or trinkets from any past times. I understand that might not be the easiest for everyone to do but hey, for those of us who can, embrace the mess.

3. Plenty of plants

They help fill space, liven up a room, and (if they’re real) actually have several different benefits to being in your home.

4. Not a bare wall in sight

The way I see it, there is no excuse for having a blank wall. There is so much raw potential in a blank wall that it would be a tragedy to not try to fill the space if you are able to. A barren wall should be nowhere to be found in a home. If this is something you’re struggling with, good ways to take up wall space include wall art, a bookshelf (or just shelves in general), tapestries, or a calendar.

5. Comfort above all

Just imagine a fuzzy rug, cozy chairs, and warm blankets at the ready. Having things that make you feel 10 times more comfortable immediately after walking through the door is important. Now, instead of having a house simply look like a home, it can feel like one too.

6. Time and effort

But most of all, if you are willing to invest your time and effort into cultivating a living space that reflects who you are, your interests, motivations, and tastes, there isn't any house, apartment, or dorm that won’t feel like home. Not every decoration will fall into your lap from one place. Take the time to search out different storefronts, consignment shops, or online sites to discover what truly interests you.

Now, with these fail-safe decoration tips in mind, go forth and cultivate your home! Because home isn't a place that is found, it is a place that is made.