College is a scary time of all kinds of unfamiliar experiences, but one constant — at least for the academic year — is the place you go home to. It’s usually not the most posh of circumstances, but some simple decorating touches can make all the difference.
Residents may get used to the way the house smells, but it’s one of the first things guests will notice. Wallflowers — plug-in, electric air fresheners from Bath and Body Works — are game-changers. Each season brings a different scent collection, but my standbys for common rooms are “Mahogany Teakwood” and “Leaves” — spicy scents are good picks here. Also keep a stock of nice scented foamy pump soaps for the sinks, which will subliminally encourage guests to wash their dang hands. For the love of God, get a hand towel for drying. And for the love of Harry Styles, wash the dang hand towel sometimes.
At risk of sounding like some dumb Pinterest quote, what truly makes a house a home are the memories made inside it. A Nerf basketball hoop over the door, an electric keyboard and Wii games in the common area afford great opportunities to bond with roommates and guests via friendly competition. It’s also a chance to get pissed and show the worst side of yourself when you lose at Just Dance, and that vulnerability and weakness lead to easier bonding! I also like to keep a stack of gossip magazines out, which makes for easy conversation-starters.
From our earliest days with the baby mobile, we enjoy looking up and seeing decorations suspended from the ceiling. It only makes sense to bring the suspended decor from the baby crib to your campus crib. Take the paper chandeliers my mom got me from Party City: They cost, like, $5 each, but really dress up the room.
Having a well-lit space is very important for activities and feeling awake overall. Add floor lamps and replace any burned-out bulbs in existing fixtures. Lamps are helpful for when you want to read the aforementioned gossip magazines in peace, but everyone else wants to sleep. String lights and candles really add to the ambience as well. I especially like to display candles I received as gifts, like the one my newly crafty dad made me out of a Corona bottle.
Where the magic happens
It’s fun to jazz up common areas to make them conducive to quality time with roomies and guests, but everyone knows that the real magic happens in the bedroom. Seriously, it’s where all of my most profound journaling takes place. I find it important to ditch any sort of theme and just hang any pictures or prints of words that resonate with me in any way on the wall, like a physical manifestation of what’s going on inside of my brain. Unlike the common areas, your room is not there to make anyone else feel comfortable, just you.
Most college living spaces have the atmosphere of a cold and shiny prison cell when we first move in. That constitutes a necessity for packing it with soft things, including throw pillows, throw rugs, and throw blankets sometimes known as simply a “throw.” Think of these items as the home decorating equivalent of a fun sock or nameplate necklace. An outfit wouldn’t be complete without it, and neither will your abode.
If the home is where the heart is, the heart is where the snacks are. When I was younger and my cousins came over to play, they would cry because they didn’t want to go home. My mom remedied this by letting them choose a snack for the car ride home from her constantly-stocked glass jar. What a nice send-off. I imagine this method would also work with college students as well. It’ll be needed when your house is so pleasant and welcoming that people start to set up camp.
Editor’s Note: This story was edited on Nov. 3 at 3 p.m. as the full version was not originally posted.