They tell you everything you just HAVE to have, and leave other things out. I mean, how are you supposed to know what you really need and what’s unnecessary. From an upperclassman RA in a freshman dorm, here’s a list of what you ACTUALLY need for your college dorm.
Now obviously, bedding is a necessity. But there are so many choices… knowing what you actually need can be challenging. Here’s a list of items I have for my dorm room bed and have served me oh so well. Check out the links for some of my personal favorite products:
- Full-size duvet insert: Full size? But dorm room beds are twins! Of course, this is personal preference but I love a bigger comforter to cuddle up in, as well as the look of one on my bed. Since the full-size duvet has more fabric, it often hangs lower off the bed, hiding any clutter underneath and making your bed a statement piece. Now– why the insert you ask? I personally find that a comforter insert and comforter cover is perfect for college because covers are so much easier to wash than an entire comforter or quilt. I wash my cover every couple weeks and only dry clean my insert once a semester! It’s so much more convenient, and keeps my bedding fresh!
- Full-size comforter cover: If you have a full-size duvet, you’ll obviously need a full-size cover. My favorites are from Urban Outfitters– there are so many to choose from and often go on sale!
- Twin XL fitted sheet: This you can get almost anywhere. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, your comforter will cover it up!
- Two bed pillows & two pillowcases: All you need is two– no need to go overboard! Choose pillowcases that match your comforter, or choose a solid color that goes with your color scheme!
- Throw blanket: Invest in a great throw blanket. You’ll use this every day for those college naps, movie nights, or even just to add extra comfort to your bedding! Anthropologie has some great ones, but if you’re looking for something a little less expensive, try Target or IKEA!
- Accent pillow: No need to go crazy with the pillows, just add one or two that adds a little style to your bedding.
- Bed skirt: This is a MUST. Dorm rooms are often tight on space, and under-bed storage becomes necessary. Buying a bed skirt hides your clutter and really cleans up the room!
2. Desk Necessities
Only bring the necessities for your desk– you don’t want to add extra clutter since dorm room desks are often small already. Here’s what you need for your study space, that can also be transformed into your makeup counter!
- Hutch: If your desk at school doesn’t already have one, a hutch is a must-purchase! Hutches are major space-savers and provide so much storage.
- Desk chair: Dorm room chairs aren’t always the comfiest, and when you’re up until 4 am writing that paper you procrastinated, you’ll want to be comfortable. Invest in an upholstered office chair and thank me later.
- Whiteboard or bulletin board: Stay organized, keep track of dates, and use magnets to display your favorite polaroids! Either lean against the wall behind your desk or attach with heavy-duty command strips (they will be your life-saver).
- Desktop drawers: Hide your clutter but keep it cute with a set of desktop drawers. With so many options, you’re bound to find ones that match your style.
- Desktop pen cup: Use a mug, a mason jar, or a cute concrete pen cup from Etsy! Keep all of your pens, pencils, and highlighters in one place with these adorable organization tools. And if you’re a makeup-lover, grab and extra for your brushes.
- Organization trays for drawers: Bring some organization trays for your desk supplies and makeup. One tray for scissors, tape, glue, and pens, and the other for lipsticks and mascaras. Having an organizational system will keep your desk uncluttered and neat.
- Makeup mirror: Set in the corner of your desk and pull out in the mornings and before your nights out while transforming your desk into your personal makeup counter. Versatility is a necessity in a college dorm, and a small LED makeup mirror is essential.
- Desk lamp: Get a desk lamp that gives you the perfect amount of light for late-night study sessions but isn’t harsh on the eyes. This one has a USB outlet too! How perfect?!
- Power strip: Let’s see, we have a laptop, a desk lamp, a phone charger, flat iron, string lights, Keurig… Yeah, we’re going to need a power strip. Set by your desk and allow for easy access to all of your electronics.
3. Closet & Under Bed Storage
If you’re like me, you have a lot of clothes. Closets in college aren’t always the most generous, so you have to get creative with your space. Here are some things that helped me maximize my dorm room space and allow for the closet of my dreams.
- Over-the-door mirror: Over-the-door mirrors are huge space-savers and perfect for dorm living. You’ll definitely want to have one of these.
- Over-the-door shoe rack: If you’re like me and you have way more shoes than you need, an over-the-door shoe rack is a life-saver and definitely a good investment.
- Collapsible hangers: Collapsible hangers will change your life! Make the most of your space and hang more than double than you could with regular hangers.
- Laundry bin: My favorite kind of laundry bins stand up on their own so you can throw your clothes in from across the room but are soft enough to sling over your shoulder and carry to the laundry room. Bonus points if yours have pockets for tide pods and dryer sheets!
- Under-the-bed drawers: Depending on the height of your bed you can choose taller or shorter drawers, but whichever you choose will provide a great space for your folded clothes and perhaps unsightly clutter.
4. Kitchen & Meal Prep
Creating a little kitchenette in my dorm saved me so much time and money during my freshman year, and is a great way to make sure you stay healthy and on budget. Here’s what made this easy:
- Keurig: If you’re not addicted to coffee already, get ready for college! Just kidding. Sort of. Even if you’re not a coffee drinker, Keurig is perfect for hot chocolate, tea, or even heating up water for instant oatmeal! They come in cute colors too, so pick one that matches your color scheme and get brewing!
- Mini fridge: A mini-fridge is a must to keep your healthy and fresh snacks cool. Usually, universities have limits on how big your fridges can be, but a small cubical one will do just fine for your first year at college.
- Storage cart: This is perhaps one of my favorite pieces I brought to college and the one I was most grateful for. Pick up a cart to house all of your snacks, mugs, cups, and plates in a compact yet stylish way. There are so many options to choose from, have fun shopping!
- Utensil caddy: Keep all of your utensils handy and organized with a utensil caddy. Before I got one of these I always found myself hunting around my dorm for spoons and forks. Stay organized and keep utensils clean!
- Dish rack: Chances are, you’re not going to have a dishwasher nearby, so when you wash your coffee mug and cereal bowl, you’re going to need a place to dry them. Grab yourself a dish rack and keep on top of your fridge.
5. Shared Space
There are a few things you’ll want for the space between you and your roommate’s beds, as well as some essentials for cozy. Here’s the list:
- Rug: Dorm room floors are never cute. Invest in a large area rug and enjoy walking around your room barefoot. Home is where the shoes come off!
- Storage ottomans: Storage ottomans are a great seating option for small spaces, as well as extra storage! Place it between you and your roommate’s beds, and use as storage, a coffee table, and seating for your visitors!
- Beanbags/floor seating: Beanbags and soft floor chairs are great for dorm rooms due to the limited space for added heavy furniture. Pick up a beanbag for each side of the room and you’ve got your cozy seating!
- Curtains: Oftentimes, blinds in dorm rooms aren’t the cutest and don’t provide for much privacy. Pick up some lightweight curtains you can hang with either a suspension rod or with command hooks, and instantly elevate your space.
6. Shower & Bathroom
If you have a communal bathroom, you’ll want to invest in a shower caddy and shower shoes. Going back and forth between your dorm room and the bathroom can be a pain, but if you have everything in one place, it’s not so inconvenient.
- Caddy: Pick up a shower caddy to make trips to the communal bathroom more convenient. Choose one that can get wet so you can bring it into the shower with you with all your essentials on hand.
- Shower Shoes: Dorm bathrooms aren’t always the cleanest, and you’ll want to keep things clean and sanitary as you shower with a pair of shower shoes. Rubber Birkenstocks are my personal favorite, but a cheap pair of basic rubber flip flops from Target work perfectly too.
- Bathrobe: A bathrobe is essential, especially if your communal bathroom is a decent walk away from your room. Buy one that’s thick and full-coverage. Too many times I have walked down the hall in just my towel while it seems the entire population of freshmen boys decides to walk at the same time. A bathrobe is a must.
- Towels: Bring a few of each size for laundry days and store in the bins under your bed. Towels are a classic staple but are often forgotten on move-in day.
Saving best for last, you’ll want to bring some decorations to make your dorm room home. Here are my decor essentials– there’s no need to go overboard since you don’t want your room to appear cluttered, but making your dorm your own is important, so choose wisely!
Tapestry or wall hanging: Now if mandalas are your thing, go for the classic mandala tapestry. But if you want to try something different, try a woven tapestry or wall hanging. Etsy has so many handmade options to choose from, but you can also find a fair selection at Urban Outfitters or Target!
Photo clips: Personalize your space with a collaged photo wall (painter’s tape is great and doesn’t peel off paint), or buy some photo clips to hang your favorite prints and polaroids.
Plants & water spritzer: I am a crazy plant lady, I admit it. Plants bring so much life to a space, so naturally, I had to bring my plant babies to college! Cacti and succulents are great for college since they don’t require that much watering or attention. Get yourself a couple little cacti and invest in a little water spritzer to keep them healthy.
Posters & command strips: Add some personality to your walls with poster prints and command strips! My favorite company to buy prints from is Rifle Paper Co., but Urban Outfitters and Etsy have great options too.
Hanging shelves: These shelves from Urban Outfitters are lightweight and super easy to attach with a command hook. Place small decorative pieces on your shelves and add some texture to your wall decor.
Jewelry tray: Keep your everyday jewelry in one place with a trinket dish or jewelry tray. There are so many options and sizes to choose from, so get creative!
Twinkle lights: Dorm room lighting can be harsh and unsightly. Set the mood and keep the lighting soft with some twinkle or bulb lighting. Hang above your window or along the top of your walls to add a cute and functional accent.