Turn your room into a home

How to make your dorm room cozy and comfortable

by Gabrielle Marush

You pick up your key, grab your duffle and start making your way down the hallway to your new digs. You open the door and despite your expectations, a dim white box of a room is in front of you. And how many people are living in here?

The first day of the fall semester comes with the challenge of settling into your new home. But it's not so easy turning those stark walls and standard-issue furniture into a welcoming, cozy room.

However, with a few tips from interior designer Rachel James, who runs her own interior design firm in Virginia, and GW students, loving your room all year long should not be a problem.

"Organization is a priority," James says, who advised against trendy products with minimal utility. "Assess what you have before you go out and buy it."

Have a plan and stick to it. Junior Tara Ward-Kellish went for a brown and pink theme in her Ivory Tower room last year. "I painted pink inspirational quotes with brown polka-dots," she said. Ward-Kellish continued those colors throughout the room with wall decorations, pictures frames and throw pillows on the couch.

James suggests wall decals as a substitute for paint. They are easy to put up and take down at the end of the year and come in hundreds of fun designs.

Don't shell out major cash. Ward-Kellish said most of her frames, posters, vases and kitchenware were purchased at a dollar store. But she was willing to invest in pricier pieces she knew she would keep for a future apartment.

Consider bunking your beds to save space. "You want to take advantage of the height of the room however you can," James said. If you are still not so keen on that idea, try putting your beds into an L shape.

Storage is crucial. James suggests shelving units, over-the-door racks and wall hooks. Products such as 3M Command adhesive hooks can be put up and taken down without damage to the wall. And things like storage ottomans can be used as both seating and places to put things away.

Junior Summer Zhang, a house proctor on the Vern, recommends bringing sentimental items from home to adorn your room with. Pictures, letters from family members, stuffed animals and your favorite posters will all add a sense of comfort.

The right lighting will really brighten up your space. James says to avoid fluorescent lights and go for floor lamps instead. Zhang also recommends decorating in cheery, warm colors like yellow, muted red, soft blue or orange.

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