Most of today's college students will look back with fondness on their time spent in the dorms. What you might not be quite so fond of, though, is the dorm room itself.
From the cinder block walls to the poor lighting and musty air, practically everything about the typical dorm room simply screams "institutional housing." Your dorm room will be your home for the next several months – so make it feel like home.
No matter how Spartan and uncomfortable your dorm room may seem, these 7 tips will have you feeling more at home in no time – no matter how tight your budget may be.
1. Upgrade The Seating
If your dorm room is like most, you'll probably get just two seats that you can call your own: a bed that feels like a layer of cheap foam on a concrete slab and a chair that's even worse. You can significantly upgrade the seating in your dorm room for less than $100 by picking up a cheap office chair along with an oversized beanbag chair for the floor.
A high-quality mattress topper made from latex, memory foam or feathers might add a significant amount to your dorm room upgrade bill, but you can afford it if you forgo a few of those Sunday night pizzas – and you'll be infinitely thankful for it every night. If you have a little extra money to spend, give your bed another major upgrade by picking up a couple of cheap throw pillows.
2. Improve The Air Quality
There's nothing quite like attending a college with generations of history. Attending a school that's been around since the 1800s, though, also means that your dorm room has seen generations of students romancing, smoking, eating, exercising, forgetting to shower and doing heaven knows what else. That strange, musty smell in your room? It's the smell of decade after decade of student life.
Thankfully, improving the air quality in a small space isn't that difficult. Plants are natural air purifiers that filter impurities out of the air and replenish the room's oxygen supply. Aloe vera requires little care and is also useful for treating burns and other skin problems. Spider plants are also good choices for dorm rooms as they don't require a great deal of sunlight. If you smoke, buy a vape kit from a company like Savory Vapes and make the switch to vaping. Your roommate will thank you.
3. Build A Loft
The typical college dorm room is barely over 100 square feet in total area. It's hardly enough room for one person – let alone two. Building a loft for your bed instantly makes the room feel twice as large and gives you extra space for items such as a couch or refrigerator. You could even move your desk under your bed for a cozy and out-of-the-way study nook.
If you don't have the materials or skill to build a loft, there's no need to worry; every major university has at least one local company that'll do the work for a reasonable fee.
4. Get An Area Rug
One of the most uninviting aspects of a typical dorm room is its tile floor. In a space as small as a dorm room, there's no such thing as a low-traffic area. Within the first week, you'll be fighting a never-ending battle against the dirt and dust from the bottoms of your sneakers – and don't even get us started about how cold those tiles will feel during the winter. How could a dorm room possibly feel like home if you don't want to walk on the floor with socks or bare feet? Nothing works quite as well as a good area rug for instantly making a dorm room feel more inviting.
5. Bring A Lamp From Home
The typical dorm room has an overhead light with a bright, cold fluorescent color so off-putting that you'll never want to use it. If you're lucky, you'll also get a reading light – and that'll most likely be it. The reading light won't be bright enough to light the room at night, so if you want to avoid using the harsh overhead light, you'll want to bring a lamp from home.
You'll appreciate having a warmer light that you can use at night. If you don't have a lamp that you want to use, string up some white Christmas lights instead. If you're feeling really creative, you can wrap the lights around a few of your favorite pictures or posters.
6. Get Your Music On Point
If you have a large stereo system at home, you're probably not going to want to bring it to college. Big speakers take up too much space in a small dorm room, and they're also magnets for theft. Don't assume, though, that you'll be happy listening to nothing but your laptop's tinny audio for the entire school year.
Even a cheap Bluetooth speaker sounds better than most laptops, phones, and tablets – and nothing makes a dorm room feel like home quite as quickly as some rich mood music. If you have a few extra dollars to spend, an inexpensive surround sound system will make your dorm room the most popular place on the floor on movie nights.
7. Decorate The Walls
Nothing says "cold and unfeeling" quite like four off-white cinder block walls. How can you make a dorm room feel like home when it looks more like a jail cell? To make matters worse, the walls in the average dorm room do a poor job of deadening sound; they give speech and music an off-putting echoey quality.
Thankfully, there's no shortage of companies today manufacturing temporary stick-on wallpaper for dorm rooms. You'll be surprised by how quickly a good wallpaper can make a dorm room feel like an entirely different place. Don't feel like going through the work of putting up wallpaper? No problem; get a wall tapestry instead. Even just a single large tapestry will provide a major upgrade to your dorm room's appearance while deadening echoes significantly.