The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Dorm Sweet Dorm: How to Make Your Room Cozy!

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University of Massachusetts dorm room

This might sound a little sad, but I’m convinced my dorm room was a huge reason I was able to make friends so fast my freshman year. Ok, yeah, now that I’ve typed it and re-read it, it's definitely not the most conventional brag. Nonetheless, it’s been almost three years and I’m still proud of what I was able to pull off. 

I am not an artsy person. Despite what my friends may think (because of the vibeyness I was able to fake), I am nowhere near creative enough to turn a plain Jane room into a humble abode. What I am good at is Pinterest! If you’re not familiar, Pinterest is like an online, public, aesthetically appealing bulletin board. With the help of Pinterest and Home Goods (if I only had a day left to live, I would spend it in this store), I was able to figure out ways to turn a bland, unfamiliar room into my happy place.

Here are seven things that will make your room the coziest on your floor:

  1. Bulb/string lights: I'll be real with you. You can actually feel the fluorescent lighting in the residence halls draining your energy. They are rough on the soul and severely diminish selfie quality (no worse feeling than feeling yourself and then seeing your face on front-cam in bad lighting). Luckily, there’s an easy fix! Any kind of lights (string, bulb, strip) that add color and warmth to your room will automatically make it feel 100x homier. 
  2.  Pillows and blanket throws: Ideally, you’ll want to pick a color scheme that you’re pretty sure you wont get sick of in the next few years. Dorm decorating is important, but nobody said it was easy on the wallet! I kept it simple with shades of white and beige. Don’t be scared to mix up patterns and textures!
  3.  A shaggy rug: There’s nothing worse than being forced out of a peaceful slumber in your warm, cozy bed by an obnoxiously loud alarm, and being greeted by the feeling of a cold, hard floor on your feet. This is where a shaggy rug steps in to save the day. Not only does it make your room look cozier, it’s practical because it makes getting out of bed slightly less painful! Plus, if you're like me and drop your phone onto your face and off your bed at least once a week, it may even save you a screen-repair fee!
  4. Desk and closet organizers: Have you ever noticed how Pottery Barn displays look very desirable to live in, but don't actually look overwhelmingly “lived in"? That's because all of the gum wrappers, loose change, half-eaten bags of chips, and partnerless socks are neatly stored away! Desk and closet organizers are an affordable way to keep everything organized and out of sight.   
  5. Personalized pictures: In the age of social media, almost everyone has pictures. You definitely have pictures. So have those pictures printed and hang them on your wall!  Shutterfly is a great resource, and, if you download their app, you get unlimited free prints! I recommend going in with your friends and splitting the shipping. Having familiar faces watching you (in non-creepy ways, of course) can trigger nostalgia, which in turn can cause the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of pleasure and overall well-being. Sorry for getting all sciencey on you — I’m not even a science major — but I read that on the internet (so you know it's true).
  6. Grab some stickies and get creative: Freshman year, my roomie and I had way too many sticky notes, and way too much time. Naturally, instead of using these resources to do schoolwork, we decided to write a heartwarming message to our peers! Sure, it might have taken us a little too much time to figure out how to position the letters properly, but once we got the hang of it, we made it our tradition to switch up the messge every so often. These messages faced outward on our window so people walking by could read them. It also gave us a good laugh when we photobombed people taking pictures of our window!
  7. Essential oil diffuser: Finally, an item to please one of your most important senses — smell!  Unfortunately, candles aren’t allowed in residence halls. And don't try to sneak them in, either (you don't want to be THAT person who makes the entire building evacuate because your cinnamon sugar candle sets off the fire alarm). Luckily, oil diffusers are in-line with safety code and smell amazing! Their reasonable price and longevity makes them well worth the investment.

Your environment has a huge impact on how happy you are. Having an organized, vibey, good-smelling room makes your home away from home the perfect environment to thrive in. Probably the only downside of having an amazing dorm is that you never want to leave (my roomie and I would literally sprint through campus after our last lectures in order to get cozy and nap in our room. There was a good 48-hour stretch where we absolutely did not leave and ate way too much Dominos). Nevertheless, having a room that feels like home is a definite way to ensure your transition into college is easy and exciting.

Check out the portrait gallery for pics of my dorm rooms throughout the years


Residential Life
Transitioning to College

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