6 ways to stay warm in your dorm room when it's freezing outside

Winter is coming

Dorm bed with pillows and string lights
(Image credit: Dormify)

Living in a dorm room can be tough, but freezing your ass off shouldn't be one of them. Plus, if this is your first time living away from home, you want to do everything you can to make your new living space cozy AF. 

Since so many college campuses don’t allow students to use space heaters, it can be particularly challenging to make your dorm feel warmer during the winter months. However, with these smart strategies and design hacks, you can make your room feel comfy despite the freezing cold weather. 

Here, you’ll find practical tips for making your dorm room feel like a warm oasis (vacay, anyone?) Plus, we’re sharing some of our favorite finds to hunker down and stay toasty with. 

1. Invest in a cozy rug 

One of the first elements to consider when you’re living in a cold environment is the type of flooring in your space. Flooring is often overlooked, but it can make a big impact on your overall living experience. If you’re assigned a dorm room that has concrete, tile, or wood floors, it’s likely that your feet will be the first part of your body to feel cold. 

To combat that experience, invest in a cute dorm rug that will provide some extra comfort and warmth during the winter. Fabrics like wool, nylon, and polyester are all smart choices when dealing with less-than-ideal temperatures. 

2. Make smart bedding choices 

There’s nothing more frustrating than being too hot or too cold while you’re trying to fall asleep. When temps drop and you want your sleep area to feel extra cozy, consider swapping your dorm bedding

Cotton, wool, down, and down alternative bedding are all good materials to use when setting your bed up for a cool season. Make sure your sheets, mattress topper, duvet, comforter, or quilt are made with those fabrics to ensure you stay snug while catching your z’s.  

3. Keep plenty of blankets on hand 

Who doesn’t love a good throw blanket? They’re useful, affordable, and they add a comfy vibe to a living space. While you don’t want to create clutter in your dorm, having a few quality blankets will help you stay warm during the winter.

The keyword here is “few.” Rather than hoarding 10 cheap throws, splurge on two to three that are high-quality — they’ll not only hold up well over time but they’ll actually keep you warm as opposed to blankets that are made with inexpensive materials. 

Another option to consider? Weighted blankets, which can be especially helpful when you’re feeling chilly.

4. Use closet staples to your advantage 

Sometimes there’s only so much a blanket can do. For moments when you need to be up and moving around in your space (or for when the weather is especially unpleasant), resort to your closet staples to keep you warm. 

Layer your favorite wool socks, throw on your UGG boots, or wrap yourself up in your best bathrobe to make the elements a little more bearable. 

5. Be strategic with the headboard you choose 

A metal headboard is a no-go when it comes to living in cool climates. To guarantee the warmest possible experience, opt for bed frames and headboards that are made with plush materials. 

There are plenty of fabric dorm headboards that are cute, comfy, and budget-friendly, just be sure to steer clear of leather since that can also feel chilly.  

6. Don’t underestimate good lighting 

Warm versus cool lighting often comes down to personal preference, however, it can also impact the way your space feels. When dealing with cool temperatures, warm lighting can offer the sense of a cozier space. 

While this is more of a mental swap than anything, don’t underestimate its power. Adding table lamps, floor lamps, and nightlights that all have warm colored bulbs can create the illusion of a more welcoming and temp-controlled atmosphere. 

Kara Thompson

About me: 

Kara Thompson is a Denver-based journalist with over five years of experience writing lifestyle content. She has written for a variety of publications, including townandcountrymag.com, elledecor.com, goodhousekeeping.com, and Parents, where she covered all things home, food, fashion, travel, and holidays. During her time on staff at Parents, Kara launched her own home decor and organization column named Save My Space. In 2022, she left her full-time job as an editor and started her own writing, editing, and social media firm, Kara Thompson and Co.

Tennis, New York City, bourbon cocktails, and her sister's German Shepherd are a few of her favorite things.