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How To: Make Your Dorm Extra Cozy This Winter

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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at USFSP chapter.

Moving into the dorms freshman year is so exciting; you finally get your own space, your new friends are right down the hall, and life starts to feel like a permanent stay at summer camp.  

As things settle in, you quickly realize that dorm rooms are muggy, dirty, the air conditioning doesn’t work half the time, and it’s nearly impossible to make the space feel like home due to 1,000 different rules from the school. “No nails in the walls, no chipping the paint, no hanging things on the doors or close to the ceilings.” Blah, blah, blah. 

Being 100 credits into my degree and still living on campus, trust me when I say that the dorms are a lot less exciting now. Even that is an understatement. I can’t f*cking wait to get out of here. Yes, I am sick of roommates who don’t respect my things and RAs who treat me like I’m a little kid, but most of all, I’m sick of feeling like I’m living in a hotel. 

Since I’ve lived in the same room for a long time, I am very much settled in and have decorations and personal touches throughout my dorm. That being said, I still feel like I’m living in somebody else’s space. Sure, I have my own bedroom and the living room is basically full of my stuff, but I absolutely cannot wait to move into a space that is truly, entirely mine. 

The reality of other people walking on my rug, using my blankets, watching my TV, and laying on my throw pillows robs me of feeling a true sense of privacy and homeliness in my own living space. While I recognize I’m very fortunate to live on campus and own all the wonderful things I do, there is still a struggle that comes along with it. 

When winter comes around, those struggles are only emphasized. There is something about the warm, cozy, comfortable feeling of being home for the holidays that a dorm simply cannot replicate (no matter how hard I may try).  

But it isn’t completely hopeless. As a dorm veteran of two and a half years, I’ve put in the work to upgrade the space as much as humanly possible. I must say, I’ve finally come pretty damn close to replicating that cozy feeling of home. 

Trial, error, and a few inspirational Pinterest boards later, I give to you the 10 most essential products that transformed my standard dorm into the cozy space I call home. 

Candle warmer lamp. 

While the following nine products are listed in no particular order, this one is number one for a reason. It’s amazing. It’s showstopping. It’s a necessity. Okay, for legal reasons, I technically can’t tell you what you do or don’t need, but my life has significantly improved as a result of owning this product. So do with that what you will.  

Not only does this product create the most beautiful ambiance in your room (with three adjustable brightness settings), but it also melts candles without violating dorm regulations and setting off the fire alarm (!!!). If the more extravagant option isn’t for you, there are affordable versions available as well for less than $15. 

Lavender melatonin spray. 
Thank you, Dr. Teals, for inventing this amazing product that I can confidently say I use on a daily basis, sometimes more than once a day. Lavender Melatonin Spray. Cue angels singing “ahhh” because I’m pretty sure this product is made and manufactured in Heaven. It smells amazing and makes the room feel so relaxing and cozy, no matter how big or small. This spray is a nighttime essential for me and I swear this helps me wind down and fall asleep so much more easily at the end of a long day. 

Woven baskets. 

Period. Woven baskets are one of my favorite items in existence. Hard pass on the monotonous, boring plastic storage bins. Woven baskets add so much more personality to a space and amp up the coziness factor by at least 1,000%. I got mine from Target, but you can find these just about anywhere. I use mine for face towels, dish towels, soaps, and skincare products but the possibilities are truly endless.  

Plus, I love that these can move with me to my first apartment after college ends without looking childish or cheap. It saves me money in the future and benefits the environment since I won’t be throwing out plastic bins in their place. 


Real or fake, I don’t care. For the love of God, every dorm needs a plant. A cactus, a flower bouquet, a fern, anything. A little touch of greenery does so much to bring life into a space and make it less two-dimensional. Not to mention how much it amps up the coziness factor and makes a dorm feel more like home. My favorite way to decorate with plants is lining up a bunch on the windowsill and placing a few single plants around on dressers, TV stands, and side tables. They are affordable, effortless, and never go out of style. I get mine from Target for $5 a piece and they have never steered me wrong. 


Of any kind, everywhere, in all rooms. My neurodivergent besties all know how horrid overhead lighting is. It must be avoided at all costs. Lamps, specifically those with warm-toned light bulbs, work absolute wonders for making a space homey. Whether you prefer desk lamps, standing lamps, or salt lamps, adding a variety of lighting sources makes a space feel intentional and reduces the harshness of the bright white overhead lights. This step is crucial in making a dorm feel less like a factory-produced barrack and more like a customized, comfortable living space. 

Fluffy rugs. 

Fluffy rugs for life. I got two medium-pile rugs on Amazon last summer and they have held up phenomenally. The listing I bought from was running a sale, so I believe I paid $50 for my 5×8 rug and $99 for my 8×10 rug. I keep one in my bedroom and one in the living room and let me just say (in Janice’s voice from Friends), Oh. My. God. I knew they would be a cute addition to my dorm, but I never expected them to make my room feel as cozy as they have. These are truly transformative for an otherwise very bland space. I have also found that not many of my friends have rugs in their rooms, so it is no surprise that everyone loves being in my room so much. The space is cozy, and the vibes are immaculate. It’s as simple as that. 

 Books (or a Kindle). 

If you’re a reader, great. If not, that’s okay. This can work for you either way. Putting books on display adds a personal touch to a space because it displays literature you love. I love the way it feels to have my books on display because they collectively form the library of all of my favorite stories. It would also be really easy and fun to go book-hunting at a thrift store for some books to display if you aren’t a reader. 

While putting books on display is enough to make a space look cozy, it’s also important for a space to feel cozy. I always feel cozier in a space when I read there. Luckily, reading the books that are already on display is an easy way to achieve this. Even though I’m a Kindle girlie now, whenever I have my Kindle out, my space feels romanticized, artsy, and timeless. I absolutely love it and would recommend it to anyone. 


Slippers are such an easy and affordable way to elevate the vibes of a space. While technically they aren’t a decorative item, the energy they give you while you’re wearing them is enough to make any space feel luxurious and amazing. Slippers feel super bougie to walk around in and when you pair them with cute pajamas or a fresh pedicure, they’re so much fun. My personal favorite slippers are furry and peep my toes in the front so I can always feel like an effortless, beautiful housewife boasting around a perfect pedi. (Disclaimer: I don’t want to be a housewife but something about looking and feeling like one is chef’s kiss.) 

Pajamas sets. 

Pajama sets until I die. We’re not in high school anymore, besties. When I turned 20, I decided that it was time for some cute pajama sets. While it can still be fun and comfortable to lounge in sweatpants and an old reliable t-shirt, the vibes of putting on a cute pajama set are truly remarkable. Something about walking around in a pajama set feels so girly-and-wifey-and-dainty-and-fashion-and-perfect. Paired with slippers, this is life-changing.  

I get my sets from T.J. Maxx because 9 out of 10 times they have designer labels with really cute patterns for $12.99 per set. 

Throw blankets. 
Good ones. While they don’t need to be super expensive, they do need to be cute and comfortable. I personally feel the coziest with throw blankets that have texture but no patterns or bright colors. Muted, minimalistic blankets are my vibe but buy whatever feels the coziest to you. I love anything woven, waffle-knit, or crocheted. 

There you have it. The 10 most essential items that have truly transformed my dorm into the cozy, unique college space of my dreams. After living in the dorms for two and a half years straight, I don’t think I would have made it this far if I hadn’t cracked the coziness code. It truly has changed my college experience for the better and I can’t wait to transfer these items to my adult apartment space when I finally leave the dorms in May. T-minus six months to go. 

Now go back and count how many times I said the word “cozy” in this article. 

Gabrielle Takacs is a writer at the Her Campus at USFSP chapter. Her main interests lie in the Wellness and Lifestyle categories but she is thrilled to add her perspective to a wide variety of topics. She is most excited to explore politics, pop culture, and beauty as future article subjects. Beyond Her Campus, Gabby is a dedicated biological health sciences student minoring in nutrition. She hopes to earn her DNP and work in obstetrics at a hospital. Despite being a STEM major, Gabby has had a lifelong passion for writing and literature. She hopes to become a published author with projects including novels and a series of children's books. In her free time, Gabby loves fitness, painting, and spending time with her 2-year-old godson. She is also a huge movie buff and is always down for concerts or relaxing at the beach.