Your dorm room, your castle

By University Advancement and Communications Posted: August 8, 2022 9:00 a.m.

It may only be temporary but there’s no reason to not make your dorm cozy, comfortable, and even an expression of your personality.
It may only be temporary but there’s no reason to not make your dorm cozy, comfortable, and even an expression of your personality. Photo: Housing Services

You’ve heard the expression “your home is your castle”, but what about your dorm? It may only be temporary but there’s no reason to not make it cozy, comfortable, and even an expression of your personality. At its core, of course, a dorm room is all about function: you need it to be organized enough to get some deep studying done, and tranquil enough for catching up on sleep. How to strike the balance – and make your dorm room your castle? Read on:

Furniture

One of the perks of living on campus at the U of R is that your room comes furnished with the essentials (which means you won’t have to move lots of bulky stuff from home). Your dorm will include a twin bed, desk, study lamp, chair, and a set of drawers. The centerpiece will be the bed, which you’re free to personalize with the comforts of home. Bring a couple of sets of bed linens, so you always have a clean set on hand between laundry days. Pack a comforter to keep you cozy all winter and a lighter blanket or throw to use for an extra layer or something to curl up in when you want to lay low and watch a movie. Bring a pillow or body pillow (which can double as a head pillow if you’re so inclined). And if your prescribed dorm mattress isn’t quite doing it for you, you can always get a foam mattress topper – you’d be amazed by the difference they can make (be sure to check the size of your dorm room mattress before you shop). And don’t underestimate the power of a few well-placed throw cushions to make a place feel homey.

Students posing for the camera wearing U of R branded clothing.
Consider using a cooler and brighter bulb for use in your study lamp and warmer bulbs in your other lamps for when you’re not hitting the books. Photo: Housing Services

Lighting

Yes, your dorm will come with overhead lighting, but the solution to making your room a cozy place you’ll look forward to returning to at the end of the day is lamps. You don’t have to spend a bundle, and if you enjoy thrifting, some very fetching and affordable lamps can be found second-hand. If you’re able to bring a favourite one from home, it’ll instantly make your dorm feel more comfortable and familiar from day one. Even more crucial? The colour temperature of your lighting: Consider using a cooler and brighter bulb for use in your study lamp and warmer bulbs in your other lamps for when you’re not hitting the books. Turn off your study lamp when you’re ready to pack it in for the day, and it will create a psychological break between study-time and down-time.

Storage

Living in residence will offer you a master class in figuring out creative storage solutions Think about your space in terms of square footage and accessible surfaces. This includes under the bed and stacked against the walls. Beds in U of R residences are adjustable in height, which can increase that amount of vertical storage space. Some dorms – especially in the first-year residence – have dressers that can be split, allowing for added under the bed storage – or side-by-side for extra surface space. Depending on which residence you are in and what size room, you may be able to fit a set of narrow book shelves. This will not only increase your storage but provide place to display framed pictures and other sentimental things. If you’re in a single dorm and have your own bathroom, find an over-the-door hanger for your bathroom door to hold hanging toiletry pouches, a robe, towels, etc.

Décor

While you’re not at liberty to nail things onto your dorm room walls, you can adhere posters and other light items with easily-removable mounting putty. This will save both your walls and your security deposit. In addition, most dorms are furnished with a bulletin board near the desk, and this is another way to infuse your space with a bit of colour and personality. The trick to keeping a bulletin board looking good is sticking within the perimeter of the board. You can stack as much stuff as you like on the board itself, just decide where the edge of frame is, equidistant to the perimeter of the board, and don’t go beyond it.  

Student smiling and posing for a photo in campus housing.
Think about sustainability when outfitting your room: Use what you already own; borrow what you can; and if you absolutely have to purchase something, try to find it second hand. Photo: Housing Services

Plants

Plants help clean the air and are lovely mood-lifters. Don’t have a green thumb? Succulents are a great and relatively low-maintenance option for bringing some green friends into your living space. Aloe vera and jade plants are inexpensive and readily available at most supermarkets.

General Design Tips

Have you heard of the 70/30 rule? The general idea is that you allow 70 per cent of your living space to work a certain theme or colour scheme, and the remaining 30 per cent is to be mixed up with contrasting items or colours – or left blank. In the case of a dorm room, where space is at a premium, you should probably try to leave that 30 per cent blank. If you find that your room is more than 70 per cent occupied, it’s time to rethink things and start culling: either donate or recycle the stuff that’s causing clutter – or move it back home to mom and dad.

Hint: when outfitting your dorm room, first consider using what you already own; borrow what you can; and if you absolutely have to purchase something, try to find it second hand. This practice helps to keep stuff out of the landfill, and extends the life of useful things.

The Best Tip of All: Tidy Up!

Make your bed every morning and take a few minutes at the end of your day to tidy up your space before bedtime. School can be stressful. Tidying up helps create a sense of control – and will set you up for the next day in a better frame of mind than waking up in a mess.