How to keep your dorm cozy without breaking the rules

Lauren Corona

It's possible to make your dorm room almost as cozy and comfy as home.

Living in a dorm is a mixed bag. While it can be a super fun experience, it can also be hard to make a dorm room feel like home, especially if your college has a large number of rules about what you can't have in your dorm room.

Of course, you want to keep your dorm room cozy -- both physically warm and with a comfy, home-like feeling to it -- but you need to abide by the rules, too.

We've got some tips on how to keep your dorm cozy without breaking the rules to help you out.

Find out the rules

So, you don't want to break your dorm's rules? First off, find out what these rules are, particularly if it's your first year of college and you're not sure what's allowed and what isn't.

The vast majority of dorm rooms ban any items that could be deemed a fire hazard -- this generally includes space heaters, candles, kettles and coffee makers to brew warming drinks, which puts a damper on keeping cozy.

That said, some dorms have more relaxed rules, so there's a chance that you might be allowed to use a space heater to warm your room. If not, some colleges give out approved space heaters for use when the temperatures drop too low.

Make blankets your friends

If you want to keep cozy, don't skimp on the blankets. An extra couple of layers will keep you toasty on cold nights and are great for snuggling up under while watching movies. The right types of blankets also give a cozy appearance to your room, just like home. If you're thinking about picking up an electric blanket, these are against the majority of dorms' rules, unfortunately.

Invest in a rug

A thick pile rug can make your dorm room look and feel far cozier. Rugs are particularly great if your room has hardwood, tile, or laminate flooring, which can feel cold underfoot, especially first thing in the morning when you wake up for your early classes. You can find rugs in all kinds of sizes, so you could even pick one to span the bulk of your room, if you have the budget for it.

Bring photos from home

What feels more welcoming and homey than photos of your friends and family? Sure, most people store their photos on devices and in the cloud these days, but you can get some printed out and put them in frames for display. Some dorms have rules about putting holes in the walls, so you might not be able to hang them the conventional way, but you can use hanging strips, instead, which are designed to come off the walls without leaving a mark.

Use alternative heating devices

A space heater is probably off the table, unless your dorm has lax rules, but there may be some alternative heating devices that you're allowed to use.

If you're lucky enough to have a kitchenette in your dorm or you have a shared kitchen near your room, invest in either a hot water bottle or a microwavable heating pack to see you through a cold night.

You can also buy hand warmers or pocket warmers, which generally aren't considered a fire risk. These kinds of products might not heat the whole room but can save you from feeling freezing in bed, or while studying or hanging out watching TV.

Block any drafts

If your whole dorm building is chilly, it's likely that drafts coming in from the hallway, and even through the window frame, are causing some problems.

It's easy to block drafts coming in from under your door by using a draft stopper, but sealing drafts around your windows is trickier. You can use rags or duct tape to block window drafts, though it isn't the most elegant solution.

Pick some soft lighting

Nobody likes harsh fluorescent lights, but this is sometimes the only lighting option you have in a dorm. Luckily, it's easy to create softer lighting. Start with a couple of desk lamps and/or floor lamps.

You can use them in different configurations to change the mood and brightness of your room. If you'd like the option to have minimal lighting, you could also invest in some string lights -- preferably LED string lights, since they don't get hot which decreases any fire risk. White string lights are the most versatile option, though colored lights can be fun.

Consider wall hangings

You probably won't be allowed to paint your room, but you could add a splash of color with a wall hanging. You could go classic college student with a wall hanging featuring Indian and other East Asian designs, but there are other options if you don't want to be a cliche.


Lauren Corona is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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