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Wednesday, Dec 1, 2021

Hacking the Residence Hall: Tips and tricks for a happy home-away-from-home

Adding comfortable pillows and blankets, customized wall decorations, and soft, unique lighting can transform a dorm room into the perfect cozy nook.
Adding comfortable pillows and blankets, customized wall decorations, and soft, unique lighting can transform a dorm room into the perfect cozy nook.

There’s something so invigorating about a new space. You move in and immediately you’re presented with a blank canvas that’s going to belong to you - and maybe a roommate or two - for two semesters.

A lot can happen in two semesters - which is why you need a great home base where you can crash, process and get ready for whatever’s coming next.

So how do you craft a space full of warmth and comfort out of cream walls, navy carpets, and regulation furniture?

Hang out.

First off, fix those walls. You can’t put nails in the wall, but don’t let that stop you from making the space above your bed your scrapbook. I recommend Command Hooks or masking tape. Then, you can go all out.

Posters. Pictures. Canvases. Tapestries. There are SO many options to change up those boring blank walls. You can find a lot of them on websites like or Pinterest.

Next step?

Get comfy.

Who cares if your walls look great if your bed is hard and uncomfortable? Absolutely nobody. We’re college kids, which means we need to lay in bed for hours on end sometimes (and that’s okay). What isn’t okay is doing that in a bed that feels like it was put there just to forcibly realign your spine.

Get comfy. There are a lot of ways to do this, both for your bed and for other furniture you may have in your residence hall. If you need a softer mattress, opt for a squishy mattress pad. They’re magical. If you feel the need to create your own personal inferno, then pile on the blankets and prepare to hibernate. They’re a great way to add color and texture to a space to add more visual interest.

If you anticipate doing a lot of homework in bed, invest in some pillows. Propping up on a pile of pillows can reduce stress on your neck and back and puts you in a prime Netflix-watching position (because we all know what you’re really doing).

Brighten it up:

Lamps. Christmas lights. Curtains. They all have a way of softening the harsh fluorescents that are sometimes used in overhead lighting. Use lamps and christmas lights for a softer light in your space, and curtains in the windows can help you to bring in natural light without always having to deal with harsh, direct sunlight.

Hide it away:

Find a way to minimize your clutter. Plastic sliding drawers can be a great way to add storage under your bed or in your closet, and small drawer organizers can be a great way to turn the catastrophe that is your chest of drawers or desk area into a more manageable chaos. This will keep the surfaces clear and make your space look more put together.

Be kind:

The most important and transformative part of your home for this year is the relationship between the people in it. Whether you’re living with one person or nine, there has to be a level of respect and courtesy between people living together.

This means that you may have to compromise. Sorry, but your giant Yoda poster may not be okay over your friend’s bed. You might have to agree to disagree on color choices.

It’s all about finding a balance between what everybody wants, not just one.

And that goes way beyond deciding what kind of shower curtain to get.


Just remember to be kind, and remember that not only do you have to live with them -- they have to live with you.


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