Your first assignment of the semester: Move into a new room and make it feel like home. It takes creativity to live well in a small space, but you don’t have to figure it all out on your own. Here are some ideas from students at St. Edward’s University who’ve mastered the art of arranging their residence hall room for maximum livability.

Coordinate on the big items.

Each residence hall has a community fridge and microwave, but life’s easier with your own microwave and fridge in your room. “I went out to dinner with my parents a lot after move-in, and I always took home leftovers,” says Digital Media Management major Ethan Calamia ’20. “It was nice not to have to worry about where to put them.” But only bring what makes sense for you. Duplicates of big items, including TVs, waste space, so decide in advance which items to bring. Residence Life staff recommend fridges 3.2 cubic feet or smaller. But get one with a separate freezer door, says Biology major Chantal Neutzler ’19. “The freezer inside a one-door fridge is too small for a pint of ice cream.”

Add a touch of comfort and style — but after you get to campus.

Many students recommend buying a rug to cover cold floors (a dark-colored one is best for hiding dirt, says Neutzler). Some add curtains, though curtain rods aren’t provided, and you’ll be charged for any holes left in your walls. If you want to add window coverings, you’ll need to use tension rods or curtain holders attached using easy-to-remove wall stickers like 3M Command Strips. But wait to buy curtains or a rug until you’ve seen your actual room and measured the area you want to cover.

You can raise your bed to create more space below.

The beds in Hunt, Le Mans and Johnson halls can be lofted high enough to fit a desk underneath — a good way to gain a little extra space. In the other halls, beds can be raised enough to fit your dresser and storage underneath. If you do raise your bed, a small stepstool or ottoman will help you climb in after a long day.

Bring some simple cleaning supplies.

You can borrow a vacuum cleaner and broom from your hall’s front desk, but plan to bring some simple cleaning items, like paper towels. “Any mess can be cleaned up really quickly with those," says Social Work major Isabel Prado ’20.

Consider bringing a lamp.

Some students prefer the warm glow of a lamp to the lighting in the residence halls. Prado and her roommate decorated for Christmas with a string of LED lights and ended up leaving them up afterward, a practical touch as well as a decorative one. “My roommate went to bed earlier than I did but was not bothered by the tiny lights,” Prado remembers, “so I could have them on with the main light off, and do homework in my room without bugging her.”

Invest in an over-the-showerhead caddy.

“I had shampoo in a shower caddy that I kept outside of the shower, and that was annoying because it would get full of water and there would be water everywhere,” Neutzler says. Make sure your roommate agrees — and get a caddy big enough to hold both your supplies.

Don’t bring too much.

That’s partly because you’ll acquire more things throughout the year. “Your room is going to be smaller than you think,” says Business Administration major Lauren Louk ’21.

“You will receive free shirts and swag throughout college, and you will probably go out and buy a few things with friends,” adds Prado. “Getting everything to fit can be a challenge.”