For many students a dorm room can be the first time that they are living on their own. There is an excitement about being able to create your own space and start your adult life. Many students spend a great deal of time purchasing "checklist" items for their dorm rooms, items such as bedding, shower caddies and storage cubes. However, your new space functions as far more than simply a place to lay your head at night. It is simultaneously a bedroom, office, living room and entertainment space. Therefore you may find yourself wanting to make your room look more like home, and less like a cinderblock cubicle. The good news is there are some really easy ways to do this, even on a college student's budget! 

#1 Lighting

When I think about what makes something "homey" one thing that comes to mind is soft lighting. Most college rooms have a single fluorescent light overhead which can be harsh, and very clinical. Instead of using a traditional desk lamp, you may opt for a table top lamp. They can be found in many department stores rather inexpensively and are offered in a variety of sizes and colors. You could also invest in a floor lamp. When coupled with a comfortable chair, a floor lamp can create a reading nook for those late night study sessions. Finally, a bedside lamp will allow you to work comfortably in bed without disturbing your roommate. When shopping for bulbs choose a 40-60 watt bulb. This will give you that comforting glow. If you purchase an energy efficient bulb, you shouldn't have to replace them during the school year. When having company you can turn on all of your lamps. When you are alone in your room, turning on just one or two lamps in the area that you are using can be very calming, not to mention energy and cost efficient!

#2 Cozy Throws and Comfy Pillows

Nothing makes you feel more at home than curling up with a book and a cozy blanket. Fleece, flannel and other cozy blankets can be found in various department stores and bedding shops for relatively little money. To make you feel more like you are in a real home, purchase a small basket from your local home goods or crafts store. Roll up several of your favorite blankets and display them in the basket next to a reading chair to form a cozy nook. You can also place it next to your bed so you can grab them quickly if you get chilly. Throws can also be used to add a pop of color, and by having them in a basket, guests can access them easily when visiting your for Tuesday study sessions or Sunday movie marathons. 

In addition purchase several throw pillows for your bed and any chairs that you have. Not only will it make this furniture more comfortable, but you can use the throw pillows against the wall to make your bed feel more like a couch. This will make your guests feel like they are in your living room, instead of a bedroom. Pillows can also be used to add color and texture to your space. To save money, try taking old throw pillows that family members no longer want and covering them with fabric from the sale bin at your local fabric store.

Although throws and pillows may seem like a luxurious investment, once you purchase them you will have them all four years, and maybe even after college! 

# 3 Plush Area Rugs

Instead of purchasing one large area rug for the center of the room, consider purchasing several smaller rugs in the same color scheme. This will allow you to visually divide your dorm room into several spaces such as your office space, sleeping space, and entertaining space.

Look for neutral colors as these can be the most calming and homey. Use patterns and texture to give your rug some interest. Finally, make sure that your rug feels comfortable and plush beneath your feet. Here are two great rugs for making your dorm room feel cozy: 

Ikea 302.290.77 Tejn faux sheepskin, white
Amazon Price: $17.99 Buy Now
(price as of Jul 17, 2016)
This rug would be great for a reading nook, or beside your bed.
FADFAY ® Super Soft Solid Color White Carpet/Floor Rug/ Living room carpet/Area Rug(can be customized) 80*120cm
Amazon Price: $15.00 Buy Now
(price as of Jul 17, 2016)
Imagine waking up and stepping on this every morning? No slippers needed!

#4 Candles or Candle Tart Warmer

What if you could come home from class to the smell of fresh baked cookies? Or have the smell of warm apple pie wafting through your dorm room on a Sunday afternoon. No matter what type of scents you like, a candle can make your dorm room feel more homey. Whether you prefer floral scents, wood scents, or scents that remind you of home cooking, smell is one of our most powerful senses and can really make you feel warm and cozy inside.

If your dorm does not allow you to burn candles, or have an open flame (and many don't), you are not out of luck. Electric tart warmers can do the trick! You simply plug them in, and using a lightbulb they heat and warm a scented wax tart. These tarts can be found in almost all of the same scents as regular candles, and cost a fraction of the price! Best of all there is no open flame so many dorm rooms allow you to use them, though you should always double check. Here is an example of a  great electric tart warmer for a very reasonable price:

White Ceramic Electric Candle Tart Warmer
Amazon Price: $11.50 Buy Now
(price as of Jul 17, 2016)

#5 Flowers and Live Plants

One of the easiest ways to brighten up your dorm room and make it feel more like home is with flowers and live plants. Purchase one or two small green plants at the start of the semester and place them near your window. You'll be surprised at how homey having plants can make you feel. Additionally they can add great color to your room.

If live plants aren't your thing, try purchasing fresh flowers every other week. Although fresh flowers can seem like an added expense for a college student, the cheerful colors can really elevate your mood and make your space feel more like a home. You can find fresh flowers for less than you think! Do a little research and see if there is a farmers market near campus and see if there is a vendor that will give you a discount for weekly purchases. You can also find flowers in most grocery stores if you do not live near a green house. By purchasing local, seasonal flowers you should be able to fill your vase for around $5.00-$6.00 each time. Be sure to take proper care of your flowers to make them last the longest. 

On weeks where you are unable to purchase flowers try filling your vase with some colorful fruit such as lemons from the cafeteria. This will give you the same burst of color in a pinch, and you can use them for lemonade when you are done.

These are only a few of the many ways that you can make your dorm room feel like home. If you take some time and think about what elements of your current home that you will miss the most in college, you can try to recreate them in your dorm room. While nothing will ever compare to home, you can certainly decorate your dorm room to feel more homey!