Whether it’s your first time away from home, or you’re a veteran of the dormitory, it can still take some time before that smelly, dusty, warehouse-esque room starts to feel like home; it isn’t always about fresh-baked cookies and familiar faces. Here are a few tips to help you find your home away from home. Don’t worry, before you know it, you’ll be dreading your parents’ house!

Make it Unique

Add an area rug. Hang a tapestry. Decorate your door. Just add a few minor decorative touches to make sure your room looks different from all other rooms in your building. Something large and colorful, like an area rug or a hanging tapestry, will definitely help you to know you’re home when you enter your dorm room. Large pieces of art and color change the look and feel of the room. Another great addition is a wall-sized mirror to make your room seem even larger.

Wake Your Sense of Smell

Some believe that our sense of smell is our strongest sense, and it is linked to conscious and subconscious emotions. Use it to your advantage by getting a delicious, yet subtle, air freshener for your dorm room. You’ll be surprised how quickly you start to recognize the smell. As you become accustomed to the wafting scent of Fresh Cotton, one day you’ll return from a long day and your dorm will suddenly smell like home.

Add Pictures

You probably miss your old friends, your family, and maybe even your prom date. The best way of dealing with this separation from home is to start throwing up pictures. I don’t mean perfectly posed graduation shots, but rather, find the ridiculous ones, and hang them all over your side of the room. As the semester continues, you can add pictures from nights out with all your new college friends.

Lights Off!

Who has fluorescent lighting in their bedroom at home? Hopefully, nobody. The best way to combat the terrible lighting of dorm rooms is to add a few additional lighting options. Make sure you have desk lamps for your studies, and get some rope lighting for the ceiling, or simply hang some colorless holiday lights. Try to place the switch close to the door so you can choose the soft lighting when you first enter your room.

Don’t Look For Home

Remember, you’re making a home away from home here, so it will feel like home to you, but it won’t be the home you grew up in. There’s a big difference. Don’t get the same candles your mom gets, and only select a few of the same décor accessories from your old room. Embrace your roommate’s style, and accept all the changes that come with college life. Welcome new friends into your room. Learn to do your own laundry, find your own food, and get your schoolwork done without your mom’s chiding. College isn’t the same as high school, and your dorm room won’t be the same as your parents’ house. That’s a good thing. Trust me.

[Photo credit: Christie Kurtz]