Decorating your dorm room to be cute, comfortable, or even just livable can be a challenge. Colleges have a lot of rules that make it difficult.

The UCSD dorm policy said no holes in the walls—so no push-pins, no nails, no screws—and the only kind of adhesive we could use was blue painter’s tape, which is not very sticky. The only exception to the nail rule was a small strip of wood over the bed where you could nail or pin things up.

These photos are from my sophomore year, when I had a single room. I didn’t have to share with decorating ideas with a roommate, so I had a lot of fun. I know it still isn’t much, but it is light years from where it started! Feel free to steal some of my ideas to help your room feel more like home.

Couch by day, bed by night. My room was small, so there weren’t a lot of seating options. I made my bed into a “couch” during the day by piling it with pillows. I bought some cheap sheets from IKEA in a pattern I liked and sewed up some different sized pillows—a long body pillow to go along the back, two big pillows (also good for floor sitting) and two smaller pillows. It was very comfy, and a very popular lounge spot for my friends.

Easy Ways to Decorate Your Dorm RoomLight it up. Fluorescent lighting depresses me, so I made sure I had a lot of other lighting options. I hung colored lights over my window and bed, and brought a desk lamp. I also hung a Chinese lantern from the ceiling by attaching it to the fire sprinkler pipe that ran over my desk. (If you want to do that, check to make sure it’s ok with your school).

Colorize. White walls and grey carpet aren’t very stimulating, so I added as much color as I could. I painted an ocean scene on a grass beach mat to hang over my bed, and a blue photo frame. I also displayed books, photos, magazines, notes, posters, and cards with bright colors. Together with my bedding and colored lights, it looked much cheerier than the dull room I first walked into.

Want to see some truly fabulous dorm rooms? Head over to HGTV’s Rate My [Dorm Room] Space to see how some really talented kids have outfitted their dorm rooms.