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There are lots of easy, cost-effective ways to put a personal spin on your dorm room and make it your own.

Credit: Jashley Bido

A college dorm room isn’t exactly the coziest place — sterile would be more accurate, with plain walls, dim lighting and boxy wooden furniture. Luckily, there are things that you can do to make your room a little more welcoming at the end of a long day — even on a budget.

1. Nails, tacks or even most kinds of tape are all out of the question for students living on campus, since the school places hefty fines for any paint damage. Washi tape, featured on many a Pinterest board, is a popular alternative; colorful and patterned, it also comes off easily. Use it to give the standard Penn dorm room bookshelves an eye-catching edge, or to border pictures and posters or make geometric wall decals.

2. Empty tea or coffee tins, cardboard tubes or any other small container can be useful as storage: Decorate them with paint or colored paper to make them more eye-catching. If you have leftover glass bottles, take off any labeling and put them somewhere where they can catch the light.

3. If you have a fridge, glue magnets to the backs of small ornaments to make decorative refrigerator magnets that you can use to hold up photos or shopping lists.

4. Succulents are popular dorm room plants for students and for good reason: They’re small, relatively cheap and hard to kill. They also come in a variety of shapes and colors, from prickly cacti to pink-and-purple Echeveria.

5. You can buy a variety of wall decals online that’ll come off easily when it’s time to move out. Put your own spin on them by using paint or permanent marker to embellish a simple quote or silhouette. Placing smaller decals in a regular pattern can also give the look of wallpaper.

6. Bulletin boards might seem too heavy to hang up, but thinner corkboard can serve a similar purpose. Alternately, try covering cardboard or thin pieces of paper in pieces of fabric, a lightweight way to pin up pictures or notes. Just be careful not to press too hard.

7. To dress up your — let’s face it, usually not fully operational — blinds, stretch a wire or piece of twine across the top of your window and hang a light piece of fabric like a scarf as a lightweight, easy-to-remove curtain. You can also use a thin stick and adhesive-backed hooks.

8. Don’t just focus on your walls; dressers, desks and wardrobes create large, blank expanses that can feel drab or oppressive. Anything that you can put on a wall can go on a dresser; try hanging a corkboard on the inside of a wardrobe to hang light jewelry like necklaces or earrings.

9. Don’t feel limited in what you can use for posters. Use smaller pieces of paper to create a mosaic, or create your own collages. Instead of heavy and expensive picture frames, you can use a colorful piece of poster board as backing to create the effect of a frame.

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