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

Anyone who has spent time in a dorm can recognize just how leeching the spaces are – the blank walls, generic furniture, and identical appliances immediately suck any potential personality out of the room. However, what can be seen as a soulless room can also be interpreted as a blank canvas that anyone can use to truly show off their personality. So where do you start? We’re not all interior designers, so what are some basics to start transforming your dorm from drab to fab?

1. Bedding

This is almost every incoming freshman’s first purchase on move-in – I knew kids who were googling comforters in January of senior year – so it may seem obvious, but making a good bedding choice is easily one of the most important aspects of a dorm room. Your bed is not only a primary source of comfort, but it can be a place to hang out, and sometimes even ends up as a study space.

Those dorm mattresses are not comfortable, so whether you find a really thick mattress pad, stack up on blankets or pillows, adding some extra softness is absolutely necessary (that is, unless you enjoy having consistent back pain).

2. Lighting

An element of any space that isn’t super noticeable, but is very influential is lighting. Whether or not you’re aware of it, walking into a room with poor lighting can immediately change your mood.

Colleges in general don’t typically have very good lighting, but dorms especially end up relying on being energy efficient and therefore painfully florescent. Unfortunately, a lot of dorms also have very strict rules about string lights, so a nice solution is to use lamps and any kind of battery operated lights that will produce some kind of significant light. 

3. Shower curtains

Bathrooms are difficult to transform. There’s not a lot of furniture to change, and any attempt to adjust lighting is not usually successful. However, dorm bathrooms need to be upgraded.

Typically, the shower curtains in dorm bathrooms are simply plastic sheets that have been used and re-used (what seems to be) hundreds of times. Personally, I never want to be naked next to an eerie plastic sheet, and grabbing a cute new shower curtain is a simple way to greatly improve the look of any bathroom.

4. Wall art

Wall art is another college freshman staple, but so often people go either overly complicated or painfully simple. Some of the most versatile and unique pieces of art to put on your wall are photographs of your friends and loved ones – whether or not you’re far from home, including the people you care for and the people who care for you in your primary space will lift your spirits on even the darkest days.

Small pieces of art from Etsy, or a local artist (maybe even someone you meet at school!) will add a sophisticated and encompassing touch that will complete your room in a way that shows you’re past the band posters of your adolescence.

5. Pieces of nature

If you’re like me, you can’t keep a plant alive to save your life (yes, even succulents), but including pieces of nature will brighten up dorm rooms in a necessary way.

Whether you like rocks, minerals, tiny seasonal plants (that don’t require watering), or even real life plants, adding a natural, personalized flair will not only show off another level of your personality, but it will add an element of earthiness that most dorms severely lack.

The space you live in always affects your mood, even more so when there is only really one space that is yours (and even that one could have a roommate in it as well). The way you decorate and create your personal space is key to creating a comfortable and enjoyable space for you, your friends, and anyone else you bring into your space. Not only will a well-curated room help you feel more put together and peaceful when finals come rolling around, but it will help reassure your parents that you aren’t becoming a complete degenerate while in college.

Image sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

Ailish Harris is a Stage Management and Performing Arts Design transfer student at the University of Utah. She's originally from Salt Lake City, UT, but was lucky enough to attend Emerson College in Boston, MA for her first 3 semesters of college. She has written for both Her Campus Emerson and Her Campus Utah, and is the current Editor in Chief for Her Campus Utah! She is a student leader in many capacities, working as the Secretary for Stage Managers at the U and as the Historian for the Department of Theatre's Student Advisory Committee. She loves Halloween, cooking, theatre, documentaries, organization, fashion, her pet hedgehog Chester, true crime, and Her Campus!
Her Campus Utah Chapter Contributor