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The Top 6 Survival Tips To Transform Your Dorm NOW

College is an exciting time, full of new faces and adventures around every corner. College courses are challenging, but living comfortably in your dorm shouldn’t have to be. How to survive college dorm life is a question so many incoming freshmen struggle to answer, and it seems like everyone has tips for living in a dorm today. With these six hot dorm tips for college freshmen, your first year of dorm living should be an easy ‘A’.

1. Cover the Walls

Wall to wall painted cinder blocks in a dreary eggshell white never seemed so daunting as they do in a college dorm. Sparknotes even wrote an article about how off-putting some of these dorms are.

Fear not incoming freshmen! Though it may feel like a prison cell in the beginning, those white walls are a blank canvas made for you to decorate to your heart’s desire.


The fastest, and probably easiest way, to personalize any empty wall is by taping up a few posters. Whether they’re of your favorite bands, gorgeous cityscapes, or a few inspirational quotes, posters are a cheap way to bring color and a personal touch into your dorm room.

Create a gallery wall out of multiple posters for that extra at-home-touch. Not sure where to begin? wrote an article on how to decorate your dorm room walls with posters and photos.


Similar to posters, tapestries are a quick way to bring pops of color and style into any room.

Generally, you can get tapestries in larger sizes than posters, therefore they are a better choice if you want to cover a bit more or the entire wall.

We love this one from with a Bohemian feel. 

Tapestry for Dorm Wall

2. Decorate the Floors

Many dorms don't come carpeted, and the ones that do are typically covered with unattractive and stiff wall to wall carpets. It’s an easy tip to overlook, but if you want to achieve that home-like vibe in your dorm, this is one of the tips for surviving in a dorm that you are not going to want to forget.


Wall to wall, or just for the foot of your bed, rugs can really make or break a dorm. Fluffy faux lambskin rugs will create a minimalist-Scandinavian feel, while a flat Moroccan styled rug will bring in more boho vibes.

Rugs come in some many different styles and colors these days; you’re bound to find a style that suites your personal taste.

3. Light Up Your Room

Traditional dorm rooms are too often poorly lit with a single fluorescent light glaring from the ceiling and only one window for natural light. To eliminate the cold, harsh light be sure to follow some of these tips for living in a lighted dorm:

Christmas Lights

Don’t be fooled, these strings of twinkling lights can be used year round, especially in a dorm.

dorm lights

Nowadays, Christmas lights come in an assortment of colors, and the string itself can be found in either green or white, allowing you to add even more personality to your new space.

String them up along the walls and wherever you feel could use a little extra decorative lighting. Here’s a cool idea on how to hang your Christmas lights from

Desk Lamps

Many dorms won’t provide you with a desk lamp, and the ones that do often provide unpleasant fluorescent lamps.

The last thing your dorm needs is more harsh white light. Replace this unpleasant provided desk lamp with a lamp in a bright shade of your favorite color!

Not only will this add an extra pop of color to your desk, it will provide softer lighting to write your essays under.

Table Lamps/ Floor Lamps

Yet another subtle way to eliminate harsh fluorescent dorm lighting from your room is through the use of table and floor lamps.

Whether beside your bed or in the corner of the room, these lamps can add a lot to a dorm providing warm and welcoming lighting through stylish statement pieces.

Buy a cute lamp shade, or even build one yourself, to fit your personal style and make your room truly your own. Here are some DIY lampshade ideas from

4. Blanket the Bed

Dorm room beds are notorious for their stiff mattresses and unappealing hospital-like appearance. Being the focal point of any bedroom or dorm, you’re going to want your bed to make a statement, as it will be the first impression people have on you and your room.

Mattress Pads and Toppers

First things first, if you you really want to know how to survive dorm life, you’ve got to start by making your bed as comfortable as possible. Nothing is worse than sleeping on a stiff mattress and waking up with a sore back before taking exams.

The best solution to the dorm bed fiasco is getting a mattress pad or topper. They add that bit of extra cushion to allow you to get the quality of sleep that you need and deserve after a long day of classes and adventures.


Nothing pulls a bedroom or dorm room together like a matching bedding set. Coordinating your bedsheets with your comforter and pillow case might seem arbitrary, but when it comes to having a homelike dorm that really stands out, matching bedding can make or break your room.

Not only can color choice and style add that personal touch to your dorm, it can tie together the entire room when coordinated with your rug(s), lamp(s), and wall decor, and any dorm-related Pinterest board will tell you that.

For a beautiful selection of modern dorm bedding, be sure to check out our amazing variety of dorm bedding sets. For more design tips on how to make your bed an eye-catching focal point, check out this short article by

5. Extra Storage

It is all too easy to overpack for your freshmen year of college. Everybody’s fallen victim to the “I’ll make it fit” mentality at least once in their lifetime. To avoid suffering from a cluttered, chaotic room, be sure to follow these dorm storage tips for college freshmen:

Under Bed Totes

HGTV even says that finding storage in unexpected places is essential to dorm survival.

The underside of a dorm bed is a goldmine for extra storage.

Packed too many shoes?

Place them neatly in a flat tote under the bed for easy and simple slide-out storage.

Don’t have any room for your seasonal clothing?

Fold up your sweaters and fleece-lined leggings and tuck those away in a tote under your bed as well to keep your room looking neat and organized all the while avoiding clutter.

Extra Shelving

Though you won't be able to mount any extra shelves onto the wall, bringing an extra bookcase or free standing shelving unit will definitely help you avoid that clutter fiasco.

Use the extra shelving to store your textbooks, or get creative and use them to store shoes,makeup, or hair products.Buzzfeed has an article featuring creative ideas for bookshelves, some of which could definitely be used in the dorms.

Just be sure beforehand that you have enough room for whichever shelving unit you decide to bring.

6. Make It Your Own

It’s all too tempting to get caught up in the trends of room decor and try to mimic those pinterest-worthy rooms to a ‘t’, but one of the most important tips on how to survive college dorm life is making sure that your dorm is truly your own and meets your personal needs. Sarah Fudin over at understands the importance of bringing life to your dorm room as well as making it entirely your own. Follow your taste rather than stressing to keep up with the freshmen ‘Jones’s’, and you are sure to end up with a dorm that you can call home!



  1. Laure J. (2009, Sept. 8) “How to: Make a Bed a Focal Point”
  2. Amy (2011, Aug. 26) “How to Decorate Your Dorm Room With Photos and Posters”
  3. Frank T. (2013, Jan 9) “How to Create Custom Dorm Lights and a Dimmer”
  4. Hackett K. (2011, Apr. 9) “Quick and Easy Do-It-Yourself Lampshades”
  5. Wang P. (2012, Jul. 5) “25 Awesome DIY Ideas for Bookshelves”
  6. Fudin S. (2011, Sept. 14) “9 Tips to Survive Dorm Life”
  7. Autry I. (2016, Jun. 16) “Dorm Storage, Seating, and Layout Checklist”
  8. Anonymous (2016, Jun. 16) “Sparklife College: Dorm Life”



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