College is about the journey, not how pretty your dorm room is. Or something. But the journey doesn’t have to be an institutional yawn, so let us be your Exuberance Sherpas in tracking down ways to make your space feel cozy and fun.
You’ll be sleeping on the same bedding for months (we’ll trust you to wash it regularly), so invest in something that’s as visually appealing as it is comfortable—like a quilt and shams in a giddy floral, with a decorative pillow in the same tonal palette but a smaller print. Include a bright blanket for chilly nights. Subtle details—like the mini ruffle on the plain sheets—keep the look from lapsing into Crazy Professor with 15 Cats territory. Add a bed skirt to turn the area underneath into hideaway storage.
For the floor, we give a gold star to low-maintenance cotton woven rugs. A nightstand with open shelves helps the area appear larger and provides extra book storage—plus space for a few accents in colors from your quilt palette. We recommend hanging a couple of well-placed posters or photos on your wall, rather than covering every surface. And if you opt for a curtain, buy a simple tension rod and an inexpensive, solid panel.