Dorm Décor 101 - by Stephanie

On move-in day in August, when I opened the door to my freshman dorm, I looked around the cement-box room and couldn't help but thinking, “This is where I’ll live for the next nine months?”  However, since then, my roommate and I have found many small ways to make our dorm feel like a second home.  Here are a few of the easiest tricks we've discovered:

1. Bring sentimental items – Yes, there is no doubt that is very limited space in a freshman dorm.  However, make room for at least a few pictures, some of your favorite stuffed animals (my bed is half-covered) and any other special items that remind you of home.  Pictures of family and friends help to remind you that even if college life gets tough sometimes, you have a great support system that will always be at home waiting for you.  Stuffed animals not only carry familiar smells from home, but many fond memories and are great to snuggle with after a long day of classes.

2. Incorporate a lot of fun colors and decorations into your room’s décor – Many college dorms are very standard and plain.  Although none are exactly the same, many share the traits of being square and bare.  The walls are rarely painted a fun color and the floors are usually hard and unwelcoming.  Although, unfortunately, most universities won’t allow you to change the color of the wall paint, you can easily get around this by simply covering them.  Use posters, photos, Christmas lights, bulletin boards, signs, whiteboards, cards, ribbons, cutouts, newspaper clippings….basically anything you can think of.  You’ll be surprised to find out how much of a difference it can make!

3. Get a rug – As I said above, the floors in a college dorm, similar to the walls, are usually plain and a little unwelcoming.  They are rarely carpeted, and although this can make them easier to clean, it doesn't generally make them particularly welcoming to sit on. Even a small rug laid on the floor can give your dorm an entirely new feeling to it.  First, it breaks up the sometimes monotonous pattern/color.  Second, and more importantly, hanging out in a room for a few hours playing a board game or just talking is a very common scene in college.  If there isn't enough bed or chair space for everyone, people will be much more likely to sit on the floor if it is covered in a rug rather than if it’s bare.  

4. Get a nice sheet and comforter set – If I were reading this before I entered college, I’d be thinking, “well of course….what else do you sleep on?”  However, in the past few months, I've met multiple people who, rather than getting a sheet and comforter set, they just sleep in a sleeping bag on the bed.  Practically, yes this works, but I feel like it gives the room such a temporary feel.  I know your dorm isn't your permanent settlement, but it is your home for an entire school year and it’s difficult to think of it that way if you sleep the same way in it as you do when you’re camping or sleeping over at a friend’s house. 

5. Decorate for the holidays! – One thing that I've noticed about college is that not nearly as much energy is focused on celebrating holidays as it was in my family when I was growing up.  It makes sense-college students are busy with friends and schoolwork and being active.  However, taking time to celebrate holidays has always been something I've greatly enjoyed.  Therefore, I, with the help of my roommate, always make the effort to put up decorations both in our room and on the outside of our door leading into our room.  It really helps make the room feel cheery and festive.

Stephanie Brady is a college freshman at the University of Connecticut in Storrs-Mansfield, Connecticut majoring in pre-pharmacy. Originally from New Market, New Hampshire, Stephanie was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of New Hampshire for 2012. Learn more about Stephanie here!