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How To Make Your Dorm Room Feel Homey

The first thing I thought of when I saw my drab, bleak, empty dorm room was, “Oh my goodness! How unbelievably inviting and warm! I just simply cannot wait to leap onto that stiff blue plastic mattress and jump up and down for joy about being able to sleep here everyday!” Wait. I am slightly exaggerating. Dorm rooms are not typically the coziest of places. It makes time away from home especially dreary when you compare your soft and warm bed that has been perfectly molded to your body to the grimy mattress you are currently sitting on that some rando probably puked on last year.

So in order to recreate the feel of your real room at home, here are some interior design tips from yours truly and sage advice from Pottery Barn Teen representative Sarah Lynam that will beef up the cozy factor of any dorm room:

THAT TILE FLOOR. The cold gray tile is too reminiscent of a hospital waiting room to be anything relatively close to homey, and it is important to find a soft rug to simultaneously warm your toes and warm up the room. Pick out gentle earth tones to enhance the comfortable feel of your room, and remember not to choose anything too dark or too light: too dark will show things that collect on the floor like hair and dust, and too light will show dirt and spills easily. Try something like this giraffe print rug found at Bed Bath and Beyond:

Bedbathandbeyond.com: Giraffe Rug: $199.99

THOSE WHITE WALLS. While posters of hot guys and movies are a stereotypical go-to for dorm room decorating, unless you have posters plastered all over your walls at home this will only make it feel even more dorm-like and less home-like. But empty white walls are obviously not an option, so rather than the standard “Joe College” poster of a beer pong rack, try a classy vintage image of champagne. On your closet door hang something clever and cute like the “Paris Dress Boutique” poster below. You can find all these images in the “Vintage Art Print” section of Posters.com, and all of a sudden your dorm room will be transformed form a sterile hospital room to the home section of Anthropologie!

Posters.com: Taittinger: $30.00

Posters.com: Paris Dress Boutique: $12.00

Also, bringing pictures of your friends and family from home is a must in order to avoid being homesick. “Pictures are a great reminder of home and can be used to decorate as well. Bring photos of friends and family and create a collage to hang on the wall,” says Lynam, and rather than taping them to your wall try spicing it up with a decorative ribbon board, like this one found at Target:

Target.com: Memo Ribbon Board: $14.43

Once you have added the basics, try adding some flare to your walls. Right now one of my favorite things are the new “wallflowers” from Umbra, which are currently in my room and were recently featured in Georgina’s NYU dorm on Gossip Girl! They are plastic flowers that come with powerful magnets on the back, and immediately stick to any flat nail in a wall, which means they are easy to move around to redecorate. They come in white, pink, black and green, and revamp any wall space.

Georgina may be a b****, but she certainly has style.

Umbra.com: Wallflower wall décor: $21.00 per box (25 flowers in each box)
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THE BLANK WINDOWS. It is amazing what a pair of curtains can do for that ugly pair of blinds on your ugly window. “Colorful curtains or sheers are great to hang (if you’re allowed) for extra privacy or to section off your sleeping space from your study space,” says Lynam. Do not go too crazy with the curtain patterns because most of the time they will probably be scrunched to the side to allow light in, so try a pretty solid color with texture.

Target.com: Horizon Window Collection: $28.04

THE STALE LIGHTING. Things like white string lights and metal floor lamps are the average lighting for dorms room, but in your room at home you have real lamps with REAL lampshades! Is it a crime to have a lampshade in college? My roommate has a stained glass Tiffany’s style lamp, and it does wonders for the aura of our room. Also, try strings lights with flowers or lanterns to make it seem more like you are decorating your room rather than stringing a Christmas tree.

Target.com: Purple Damask Lamp: $16.99

Lampsplus.com: Lotus Flower String Lights: $14.99

THAT STIFF BED. As we have already discussed, those stiff plastic mattresses are not exactly the softest of places to lie down on every night. I sincerely hope everyone has bought a foam mattress pad by now, and if not they are fairly cheap and do WONDERS for your body (and what guy wants to hear an awkward crunch when he sits down on your plastic mattress?).

Dormbuys.com: Egg Crate Mattress Pad: $11.99

Also, jazz up the eye appeal and comfort level by having lots of throw blankets and pillows. As Lynam says, “bring a favorite blanket or pillow from home and leave it on your bed as a reminder of home.” You want to be able to collapse on top of your bed and feel relaxed like how you do at home, not like you are laying down on a cot in Swine Flu quarantine.

LASTLY: SURROUND YOURSELF WITH ALL THINGS SOFT! For those times when all I want to do is cuddle with my pet from home, the only thing that can truly make me happy is surrounding myself with all things soft. My new favorite things right now are the super soft socks at Gap (wearing these inside a pair of Uggs is literally FOOT HEAVEN). Soft blankets, plush floor rugs, and fuzzy towels, all help to enhance the feeling that you are comfortable, even if you’re not at home.

Gap.com: Super Soft Socks in Red Stripe: $5.75

Target.com: Chocolate Brown Fur Throw $17.99

FINISHED! After putting a rug on that nasty tile, hanging some curtains on those atrocious windows, and having some soft things lying all over your room, I think it will feel a tad bit more like home when you get back from class. I do not think it is likely any of us will be able to recreate Blair’s NYU dorm on Gossip Girl, chandelier and all, but it is important to try to bring a little bit of your home with you to school (look! she even has a ribbon picture board!).

Blair Waldorf-style dorm room (unachievable)

Sources:
PBteen.com Design Library

Helium.com: Decorating Tips to Make Your College Dorm Your Home Away from Home
Sarah Lynam, Public Relations Manager for Pottery Barn Kids & PBTeen

Joanna Buffum is a senior English major and Anthropology minor at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine.  She is from Morristown, NJ and in the summer of 2009 she was an advertising intern for OK! Magazine and the editorial blog intern for Zagat Survey in New York City. This past summer she was an editorial intern for MTV World's music website called MTV Iggy, writing fun things like album and concert reviews for bands you have never heard of before. Her favorite books are basically anything involving fantasy fiction, especially the Harry Potter series and “Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell” by Susanna Clarke. In her free time she enjoys snowboarding, playing intramural field hockey, watching House MD, and making paninis. In the spring of 2010 she studied abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark, and she misses the friendly, tall, and unusually attractive Danish people more than she can say. After college, she plans on pursuing a career in writing, but it can be anywhere from television script writing, to magazine journalism, to book publishing. 
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