Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

How to make your dorm feel like home


Making the move to college is one of the most exciting parts of being a freshman, but let’s be honest – decorating a dorm can get difficult. 

Dorms require serious downsizing to fit all of your belongings in a 10-by-10-foot area, so necessity trumps comfort when it comes to decorating. Aside from the limited space, there’s also some restrictions on what you can and can’t do with your room. But having smaller digs doesn’t mean you can’t make your dorm feel like a home away from home.


The drab beige of the dorm walls is anything but homey. But since you can’t paint the walls or put many hooks up, there are other ways to help brighten up your space and make it feel more like you. Using command strips and hooks (if your dorm restrictions allow) to hang decorative canvases, ribbon boards, posters or flags on your walls is a great way to add a personal flair and a little bit of color to the room.

Another tip: forgo blackout curtains. Waking up early because of sunlight isn’t that bad, because you’ll usually have to be up anyway. The natural lighting will make it seem like your room has more space. Using lighter colors in your room will also make it seem more open, whereas using dark colors will make the already small space seem ever smaller.

Nothing says “temporary space” like a room with no photographs. Photographs not only help you remember your friends and family from home, they also mark a space as yours and give you a great conversation starter when new friends come over for the first time.

Add some comfort

Dorm room beds and couches are not comfortable. Adding some padding to your mattress and some soft pillows to your bed can make it feel better and less like a dorm bed when you lie down at night. A nice set of sheets and a good comforter will also be helpful for unwinding at the end of stressful week.

For most, living in a suite style dorm is a test run for living in an apartment, so don’t be afraid to collaborate with your roommates to add style to the place. If you have a couch, adding some pillows to that, too, will liven up your small common area. It might actually make you want to hang out there more, which will help make your entire dorm – not just your bedroom – feel more like your home.

Reflect your personality

Are you an artist? A photographer? An athlete? Let that show in your dorm room. It’s the only space that’s truly yours on campus so it should reflect who you are and what your passion is.

Frame some photographs from your high school band days, put your guitar up in the corner, put your favorite books or movies on display on bookshelf. The dorm is your home for the next nine months – make the space yours.

Get to know your roommates

My freshman year, when people came to our dorm, they were always surprised that my roommates and I actually hung out. We had game nights and Netflix marathons together. Every Sunday night, we made cookies and watched a movie. It created a sense of friendship that the whole dorm better. When I went back after class, it felt like going home because I knew I would be able to talk about my day candidly with people I enjoyed hanging out with.

You’re going to be living with these people for nine months. Getting to know them early on will make everything about college easier. Coming in everyday and simply exchanging some small talk will make the dorm feel less like home and more like an extended stay hotel room. Your roommates are most likely first year students like you, and are probably experiencing similar struggles in adapting to college life. Being able to talk openly with them will make you feel more comfortable in your dorm.

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