Moving into your first dorm is a super exciting time. Of course, any time you move into a new space it can also be kind of overwhelming. How do you cram everything you need into a small dorm room and maintain your personality? It’s not as daunting as it seems, believe it or not. All it takes is a little touch of home for the barren four walls of your dorm to magically transform into a place full of life and happiness. Designating a chill zone, staying organized and even utilizing car air fresheners can drastically improve the feeling of your new home away from home. Here are six ways to make your dorm room cozier.

1. Find Scents You Love

Freshening up the way your dorm smells is one of the easiest ways to change the entire atmosphere. Picking out a candle scent that reminds you of your favorite places or memories will instantly brighten up the way your room feels and bring back those comforting feelings. Make sure if you are using candles in a dorm that you remember to look into candle care. Open flames require an attentive person nearby and alert at all times.

If you are unable to keep candles in your space or don’t want the added responsibility, reed diffusers are a great alternative. Reed diffusers use fragrance or essential oils absorbed by reeds to disperse fragrance throughout the room. This means there’s no flame, so you won’t have to be concerned if you fall asleep after an all-night study sesh. For tighter areas like closets, you can also use a car air freshener. You can easily dangle one from the bar in your closet or anywhere you need an extra pop of fragrance. Car air fresheners are usually pretty discreet, and their size allows you to hide them in places completely unseen.

2. Designate Your Spaces

Designating a particular area for a certain function is a life-saving way to manage your space. Maintaining certain areas for work and other areas for relaxation can help your brain transition from one activity to another and detach from the stresses of study and schoolwork. 

Pick out an area in your dorm that you want to be your safe, cozy area. Make sure you keep the energy in that space focused on relaxation or participating in activities you enjoy. For example, you could pick up a super cozy chair and place it in the corner of your dorm. Put your favorite blanket and stuffed animal there so you can curl up and read a book. Then, pick a spot for you to designate as a studying and work area. A great example is using a desk free of too many distractions. Once you leave that area, leave your stress behind with your textbooks!

3. Stay Organized to Maximize Space

Moving into a cramped dorm can feel like trying to cram your entire life into a shoebox. Luckily, there are tons of ways to make sure you have everything you need and maintain organization. Staying organized will help keep your space looking and feeling uncluttered. With less chaos in your dorm, you’ll feel a lot more focused and a lot less stressed. 

There are lots of places within our living areas that we overlook when it comes to storage space, such as the vertical space in the room. Adding some taller pieces of furniture that aren’t too wide will keep your floor space open while utilizing space higher up in the room for storage. This also goes for the walls. Find some nice organizational pieces that hang on the walls to use less floor space and keep your things contained in a unique and style-friendly way. 

4. Add Some Green

You might think that having plants in a dorm room is a recipe for disaster, but that’s not the case. There are plenty of plants that don’t need direct sunlight and can thrive in a moderately lit dorm. Creeping figs are one such plant. They work great as hanging plants near a window and are gorgeous. Dragon trees are another popular house plant that needs to stay away from direct sun exposure. These both are easier to care for than some plants because they don’t need to be watered until their soil becomes dried out. 

Air plants are another easy option. Since they only require an occasional soak in water, they make great decor for people who can’t keep up with the caretaking of greenery. Even still, you can always invest in some realistic fake succulents or other plants to brighten up a room and you’ll be guilt-free because they won’t die.

5. Decorate in Your Personal Style

Some people feel like a dorm room is a temporary living situation, so they choose not to decorate it. This leads to a huge disconnect from your environment, however. Bringing your own personal style into your space is the most important part of making it feel like home. Fill your walls with posters, photos of family and friends, decorations that fit your style and anything else you like. It’s far easier and more enjoyable living in a space that’s exactly how you like it instead of living in a space that doesn’t spark the joy within you.

6. Refresh Your Mood

The soundtrack to your life doesn’t need to be the AC unit. Set up some Bluetooth speakers around your room and play music to set the atmosphere. It doesn’t need to be an all-out house party at all hours of the day, of course. Playing some music just to complete your daily routine can improve your mood and make your day feel a little less mundane. 

Music has been shown to reduce anxiety as well as improve mood and memory. Winding down at the end of a long day to some relaxing music can greatly improve your quality of sleep too. Whatever you decide to play, it’s going to be way better than listening to silence or your neighbors.


Finding ways to make your dorm room feel cozier isn’t as tough as it seems. Start by considering these six tips, and the rest will come naturally. You’ll be at home in no time.


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