Living in a dorm room can be institutional, sterile and cramped. But if you take the initiative to make the space your own, it's possible to have a comfortable space.
It's hard to strike out on your own and be an individual when you're away at college and living in the same standard-issue, white-walled, boring dorm room as everyone else. But with a few decorating tips and a little ingenuity, it's possible to have the pad that everyone wants to crash in.
Color is the quickest way to add character and life to a dorm room. First, check the policies of your school's housing department and see if they allow painting. If they do, consider doing something wild like painting one wall a deep red (don't do the whole place too dark, or the room will seem even smaller!)
At most schools, they're not going to let you paint the walls, but consider your other options: find a couple of rolls of bright, fun wrapping paper or fabric and post them to the walls so that they cover one entire wall. It's a great way to integrate color, and also a great conversation starter.
Consider other ways to integrate color, like through a bright throw rug in the middle of the room, bright fun curtains on the windows or fun accessories. You can match a bedspread with two or three wild colors with matching accents, like a wastebasket, art piece on the wall or toothbrush holder. Let your imagination run wild!
Make it Accessible
If you want people to hang out in your room and see the great decor, make sure they have that option; leave your door open, invite people in and make sure your furniture is arranged in a way that allows for good conversational flow and makes people feel welcome to come in and flop down.
Try setting your bed up along one wall so that it can serve as a bench for people to sit on. Try integrating a bean-bag chair or low cushions that people can comfortably sit on. Even adding a rug can make the floor a more interesting place to stretch out.
Pay attention to the light in the room - it should be well-lit enough that people can see each other and talk, but not so bright that it's not relaxing. Since a lot of dorm rooms are outfitted with fluorescent fixtures, try not to use them and instead, bring in a couple of table lamps, at varying levels throughout the room.
Keep it Clean
Living in a dorm room is tough, for sure. You often sleep, study, hang out, eat and do just about everything else in the confines of this little room. But consider how refreshing hanging out in a nice, clean space is and make a point to keep your space not only clean but neat and smelling good.
Try vacuuming at least once a week, clean up after yourself and don't keep a huge food stash that has the ability to attract insects and pests.
When you want to have people over, consider lighting one or two scented candles (if it's allowed) or making a good-smelling food like chocolate chip cookies to fill the room with happy scents. Only so much pizza can be consumed before the whole place starts to smell like stale olives.
Overall, remember that if your space is organized and clean and vibrant, you'll be more likely to succeed in that environment and more likely to attract friends from up and down the hall.