Hanging up string lights can easily make a common room feel more like home. PHOTO COURTESY FLICKR USER ALI EDWARDS

A big part of going away to college is buying all of the decor for your dorm. Throw pillows, lights, chairs, pictures and more are used to make an unfamiliar space feel more like home. Lots of time goes into planning, and the setup can take a while. At the end of move in, your desk is organized, your bed is made, and everything is packed into closet organizers or drawers. But just down the hall is a room that everyone forgets, and it stays empty with cinderblock walls and florescent lighting: the common room. It’s also a place where you might spend a lot of your time, so why not also make it feel inviting and cozy? Here are some ideas if you’re planning to do just that:


  1. Hang up some string lights.

Fluorescent lights are fine during the day, but can be a little harsh at 2 a.m. To create a more ambient mood, you could hang up some string lights either on the wall or closer to the ceiling. It really creates a relaxed atmosphere.


  1. Decorate the walls.

Personally, I am not the biggest fan of the pasty beige that’s used to paint the walls of the Warren common rooms. A way to counter this is by putting up some posters, or artwork, or anything that you enjoy. It really helps to make the room feel less dreary and more like a comfortable space.


  1. Invest in a fan.

The more people in one room, the hotter it gets. Because it’s in the center of the floor (far away from all windows), ventilation is crucial. Even if you have a really elaborately decorated common room, what’s the point if it’s always hot and sweaty?


  1. Share supplies.

Leave a roll of paper towels on the counter, and set up a system for people to buy a new one once it runs out. Or if you bought some kind of food and realized that you don’t want it anymore, leave it on a table instead of throwing it out. Once multiple people start contributing, it really helps the floor feel like a community.