It can be a challenge to decorate a space smaller than most one-room studios, but aesthetic alignment isn’t limited to spacious lofts or high-ceilinged houses. To get your Dorm Improvement Project underway, use this dorm room checklist as a guide:
1. Adjust the lighting. Don’t spend late afternoons studying under fluorescent motel bathroom bulbs. Find a home consignment store and pick up a kitschy 3-way lamp and a few fancy incandescents that can mimic both a sunny day and the buttery glow of a dinner cafe.
2. Splurge on better bedding. For any fried student, downy sheets and blankets aren’t a luxury but a preventative necessity. Better sleep means better grades, so don’t feel guilty about spending extra scholarship money on a pillowtop mattress pad. If extra cash is sparse, add it to your wish list – coziness is a classic holiday gift.
3. Build an efficient workspace. You’ll have to do some work eventually. Compartmentalize your desk decor and create your own scholarly system for staying on top of due dates, keeping track of weekend plans, and updating countdowns to semester breaks. Using a whiteboard or chalkboard decal to manage your To Dos (or To Don’ts!) is an excellent way to boost your productivity.
4. Provide ample seating. Most dorm furnishings include a threadbare desk chair – never mind where your friends will sit. Avoid the temptation to turn your bed into a crowded island by providing plush, stackable floor cushions or a roomy futon to accommodate visitors and relieve restless study sessions.
5. Find a good coffee maker. For those mornings when brushing your teeth feels like an insurmountable obstacle, a reliable alternative to heading out for your morning joe can help energize you for hours spent getting things done before you’re even presentable.
6. Trust in an alarm clock that won’t wake your neighbors. Never assume the aspiring disc jockey next door is a deep sleeper. Not everyone will share your schedule, so make sure you can wake up without relying on rooster-strength sirens.
7. Set up a dressing screen, especially if you have a roommate. If you don’t share space, a vintage dressing screen is still a very Faye Dunaway thing to own. Should you want to change into something more comfortable with company in the room, you won’t have to demand anyone turn away.
8. Combat cold tile floors and sandy sheets. Laying down a thickly padded, neutral-hued Berber area rug will solve disagreeable feet dilemmas. Keep the rug clean with a quick vacuum once each week and a vow to remove your shoes at the door when you come in from intramural co-ed football practice.
9. Stash some soled slippers under the bed. Because you can’t take the rug with you when you walk down the chilly hall to use the shared bathroom, you’ll need something warmer and more supportive than the socks you slept in.
10. Stack your shelves with books you actually WANT to read. Avoid textbook burnout and pick up the habit of reading for pleasure. Working your way through a novel before bed each night can be a soothing, guilt-free departure from official academic pursuits (and it can’t hurt to give your brain something to dream about other than the potassium-to-sodium ratio).