A happy mind is a productive mind, and there’s no better way to make your mind happy than to surround it with stuff that makes you smile. It’s easy to move into your dorm room at the start of term and leave things just as they are, but with a couple stylish updates, you can transform your dorm room from a listless studying cavern to a productive, calming atmosphere that gets you into the studying groove.

During my very first (and only) dorm room experience, I discovered just how important actually taking the time to decorate your dorm room really was. I felt cramped and confined in my room–which was admittedly actually quite large for a dorm room–and so did most of my friends. A few days after we all moved into our rooms, I walked into my friend Tess’ single, and it was like the whole world stopped for a moment.

She had decorated her dorm room with bright, sunny sunflowers on the walls and closet doors–just a few, but enough to make a big difference. Just the tiniest bit of customization made her room feel like hers, like home, and I knew instantly that I needed to do something to mine, too.10424306

My changes were small, as we were only there for the summer, but they made a big difference on how comfortable I felt (and how easy it was for me to do my classwork in my room). I went out that weekend and came home with a couple glass dishes, a room fragrance, and a new blanket. And you know what? They made such a big difference for me that I even brought the blanket home at the end of term. It’s been with me ever since, and it ended up being the very first thing that my feral rescue cat treated like “home,” too.

Brighten up those walls!

One of the toughest challenges about a dorm room is that you can’t really alter the room in any significant way. If it comes furnished, that’s just the furniture that you have to use now; if it comes painted dark grey, that’s just what you have to live with. Paint, however, isn’t the only thing that can brighten up your walls.

Instead of belabouring the fact that you can’t change the colour of your room, focus instead in adorning the room itself to brighten it up. A great area rug can make the entire room feel cleaner and more chic, or a pair of really sunny curtains (like these wonderful yellow and white Gouchee Design Chevron Curtains) can turn drab walls into nothing but a backdrop.

10374034_1Don’t have a window? No problem! You can panel a skinny wall with curtains nonetheless if you find the perfect print, or you can opt for a few colourful paintings instead. The Nexxt Shutter 12″ x 12″ Purple Haze Canvas set at Best Buy is a great example of this: each painting is fairly small, but with three of them (or more!), you can change the whole mood of the room. I like brightening small rooms with bright, natural-looking prints to de-stress my mind, but there’s something out there for everyone!

Add a bit of personalization

Another great way to turn your room into your own personal study haven is by personalizing what’s already there. Add a couple fun throw pillows to the couch, or print out some of your favourite Instagram photos of home and throw them up.

The nexxt Array Collage Photo Frame is perfect for doing the latter, and if you have a friend or family member who’ll be going away to university this fall, a filled frame would make a great going away present to remind them of home. Plus, with that many different photo slots, it’s easy to swap out photos but keep the frame itself, perhaps adding bits of college life to the mix as the months go by.10380255

Decor doesn’t just go on your walls, though. Fun throw pillows like this Urban Loft Donut Decorative Pillow can be tossed easily on a bed or chair for a bit of extra back support and a lot of extra personalization. (This one is feather-filled but polyester-covered, so it’ll be nice and plush without getting wrinkly!)

For even more personalization…

If you’ve added drapes, pillows, and fun decorative touches to your dorm room and it’s still not enough, well, keep on going! (And hey, maybe call home once in a while to cheer yourself up.)

Try adding a few pieces of furniture to your room if you have the space, like a super cute floor mirror or a comfy arm chair. The Monarch Angique Oval Cheval Mirror is the perfect mirror to take a casual outfit snap in, and it has a really girly vibe that can brighten up a room without taking up too much floor space. (I’d angle it away from your desk, though… do you know how hard it is to study when you keep seeing someone moving in your peripheral vision? Even when I know that I’m just glancing at myself, it gives me major chills up my spine).

Or, try adding a comfy arm chair to your room for some dual-purpose personalization and back support. If you’re taking a lot of English or Comp Lit this term, a great chair is well worth the investment! It’ll give you a comfortable place to do all of your readings, and you’ll be able to get into “the zone” more easily each time you associate the chair with a great book.

Finally, if you’re not sure how to add that perfect finishing touch to your dorm room, consider doing something outside of the box. Add a couple empty picture frames to your wall, for instance, or throw up a dart board and use it as a place for notes and reminders. Go and pick up some flowers at the dollar store and tape those suckers onto your closet. No matter how small your dorm room is or if it came furnished or empty, there are plenty of ways that you can personalize it to get the most out of your school year!

Check out the rest of Best Buy’s Home Decor section here for even more room inspiration.

Rae Chen covers everything from handbags to speakers here on the Best Buy Plug-in Blog. They can also be found at thenotice.net, where they've been writing about beauty & wellness since 2007.