To prospective university housing residents: Good job on getting an on-campus house, but your work is hardly finished. It's time to make your living space a home.
  1. Lighting reconnaissance
    You need address the lights almost immediately. Preferably, you do this preemptively (I did it the year before). Peak into your on-campus house once it's assigned to you. It will come with one, maybe two lamps, at best. You will need many lamps. I recommend goodwill for this. The house will have built-in fluorescents that will make you nauseous. Unfortunately, these lights cannot be tolerated. Your peers will not be wise to this, but you will. On day one, you are prepared with lamps.
  2. Lamp installation and placement
    I recommend 3 lamps per living space. Usually I go with two standing and one table lamp. For a college house, you will need Christmas lights. Hang 1-2 strands of white lights around your bay windows (or biggest window). This will cap off your ambiance.
  3. Area rug
    Get a large, dark area rug. You need at least 10 x 15. Brown is good because it doesn't reveal the grime that results from hundreds of college student footsteps. I would place this in the living room. Vacuum often.
  4. Islands
    You need islands. If I know anything, it's that your on-campus house will come with MINIMAL counter space in the kitchen. Consult craigslist and Storables. I got a restaurant-grade, stainless steel island for $50 (3 x 6). These will make your kitchen 100 times more serviceable (and are great for your coffee station!).
  5. Mugs
    Try not to be a college cliché by having a hundred cheesy white mugs with images and jokes on them. Get some nice ceramic mugs. You'll be using them a lot, and guests will love to compliment you for them.
  6. Cleanliness
    A mess does not feel like a home. We likely grew up with relatively clean parents. You will not like living in squalor. Dirty dishes are probably the most visible sign of domicilial decay, so do them frequently. Don't be petty about whose dishes are whose, just do all the dishes. It doesn't take long and you probably don't have a job anyways. Moreover, stay up on sweeping, vacuuming, and mopping. Invest in some Clorox wipes - use these for surfaces such as counters, tables, stoves, and islands.
  7. Hooks
    Purchase a few cheap coat racks (they can rest on a door) and some command hooks to put on the walls. These hooks will provide an abundance of easily accessible coat and jacket storage. If your housemate leaves their jacket on the couch, you will require only a few seconds to throw it on a hook. Hooks also work great for purses and bags. This will keep your home feeling tidy. Along with this theme, get a shoe rack.
  8. Napkin holder, thick salt, pepper grinder
    Permanently store these items in the center of the dining room table.
  9. Blanket basket
    We all love to cozy up on couches with blankets and hot drinks, but stray piles of blankets hanging around the house are a tidiness nightmare. Invest in a several moderately sized, comfortable down blankets (nothing wool!) and one wicker basket for blanket storage. Since you won't want to fold your blanket after every use, you can stuff it in the blanket basket!
  10. White walls?
    Something you need to address almost immediately is the inevitably vacant and pallid walls. Fill the wall space with inoffensive art, flags, and tapestries. This will immediately cozify your space and put you a step ahead of your on-campus neighbors.
  11. The curtain conundrum
    Find some nice sarongs or saris. Cut your garish metal blinds and wrap the fabric around the banisters. The casual drapery will provide filtered soft light and supply luscious luminance to your home.
  12. Large coffee table
    I recommend finding a large, hearty coffee table. Preferably, this table is smooth with no rustic divots or artsy metal. Keep this clean. A coffee table should be a serene and pure surface — an glistening stage for your morning cup.
  13. Ottomans
    An unsung hero of comfort, the ottoman provides a bounty of options. With its positional and spatial versatility, there's nothing an ottoman can't do. Get a few small ottomans, maybe with wheels, to station in your living spaces. If you're like me, you like to put your feet up. These are great companions to the blankets, but they also double as extra Friday night seating.