Especially when you're living away from home for the first time, you want your college dorm room to be a place that feels dozy. You'll be living there for a whole school year, and you want to be able to really settle in and feel like the space complements who you are. If you don't know where to start, use these design basics to turn any basic dorm room into a space of your own.

Look for Inspiration

You don't have to rely on your own imagination to decide how to make your dorm room feel comfortable and cozy. Instead, look to what others have done for design ideas. Browse magazines, college catalogs, websites, and other resources and jot down notes on what aspects of the dorm rooms stand out as particularly appealing to you. Keep these in mind as you gather supplies to create your perfect dorm room.

Attend to the Bed

In a dorm room, that XL twin mattress can serve more functions than you may initially anticipate. You'll find yourself not only sleeping there but also using it as a couch when friends drop by or as a study area when you get tired of your desk chair. Gather a collection of plush throw pillows to help you and others sit comfortably on your bed. When shopping for comforters, consider durability and stain resistance because you'll spend a lot of time on the comforter, not just under it.

Take Advantage of Mirrors

Small spaces benefit from mirrors to add the illusion of space and to help maximize limited natural light. Consider adding a mirror on the wall perpendicular to a window to help shine light back into the room. In addition, you want to have a place to check yourself out before you rush out the door for your morning classes.

Add Ambient and Task Lighting

Most dorms come equipped with overhead fluorescent light fixtures, and these often make the room look more like a stark prison cell than a comfortable bedroom, study space, and lounge. A floor lamp makes a perfect addition to overhead lighting to avoid shadows, or an alternative to it when you want softer lighting. In addition, get a desk lamp and a reading lamp for your bed so you can study late without disturbing your roommate.

Hang Artwork

Blank white walls aren't very exciting, but you can put your own personal touch in the room with the help of your favorite artwork. Poster prints are perfectly acceptable for college dorm rooms, but if you want an extra touch of class, frame them to make the space feel more permanent. You can also create arrangements of several small, related pieces of artwork if you don't want to invest in a big piece or can't hang something that heavy.

Your dorm room is your own space for personal expression, but if you're sharing it, don't forget about your roommate. Communicate about your styles and preferences before you get to campus so you can bring together a cohesive space and don't duplicate shared items. However, don't be afraid to put your personality into your portion of the dorm room, because after all, you live there too!

Dorm Room Design Tips