My college days may be in the rearview mirror, but I still remember the joys—and struggles—of living in a dorm. On the one hand, your best friends will likely be living right down the hall, but on the other hand, you generally have to share a bathroom with dozens of other people. Dorm life is definitely what you make it, and there are a few dorm room essentials that can help ensure your college experience is comfortable and loads of fun.
If I had to go back and do it again, these are some of the dorm room ideas that I would use to spruce up my space. Things like comfortable bedding, noise-canceling gadgets, and a mini coffee maker will make your dorm feel more like home—and keep you productive as exams loom. Plus, most of these items can be used for all your college years and beyond, even if you eventually move into an apartment or other small living space.
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If it’s your first year at college, chances are that you’ll get a little homesick at some point—I know I did! However, by making your dorm room feel cozy and welcoming, it will become a safe space to hang out and relax, and soon, it will become your home away from home.
1. Farmhouse Pottery Nordic Sheepskin, $195
Getting out of bed in the morning is hard enough when the weather is nice, but once it’s snowing outside and the floors are freezing cold? Forget about it! Make the experience a little more enjoyable by investing in a fuzzy sheepskin rug.
There’s nothing more relaxing than watching a movie by candlelight, but real flames are a big no-no in dorms. You can get that same effect with these faux candles with a self-timer so you don’t have to get up to turn them off.
All about hygge? Then you’ll definitely want this blanket with a knit pattern we love, as well as adorable tassels along the edges.
Late-night study sessions call for energy drinks and a bright task light! You’ll want a product that illuminates your desk without bothering your roomie, and this lamp has a built-in LED bulb that you can adjust to three brightness levels with a simple touch.
Dorms are notoriously cramped, so you may have to be selective when packing—especially if you’re sharing a room with multiple roommates. If you’ve pared down your belongings as much as possible and are still worried about how you’ll fit everything in a tight space, try out one (or all) of these genius storage solutions. I might use a few for my own apartment…
If you’re hemming and hawing about whether to loft your bed, do it. Sure, you may have to jump up to sit on your mattress, but the extra storage space is totally worth it. If you loft your bed high enough, you may even be able to store a mini fridge or laundry hamper under there.
2. The Container Store Elfa Utility Board, $29.99+
You can keep all your desk essentials organized with the help of a customizable pegboard. This one from The Container Store has compatible clips, hooks, and containers where you can store small items like paper clips and pens easily.
3. BedShelfie Bedside Shelf, $44.99
You probably won’t have space for a bedside table in your dorm, but the BedShelfie is here to save the day. This unique bedside shelf attaches to the rail of your bed, and it can hold up to 15 pounds! It’s the perfect spot to put your phone, nighttime drink, laptop, and other essentials.
4. Yamazaki Home Over the Door Rack, $30
Behind-the-door storage comes in handy when you’re pressed for space. This hanging organizer is a great choice for hanging extra toiletries, accessories, clothes, and even your snack collection.
5. HOUSE DAY Black Magic Space Saving Clothes Hangers,
If your teeny, tiny dorm closet isn’t nearly big enough to hold all your clothes, these closet organizers will help you make the most of every square inch. Each one holds up to five hangers, which means you can store way more clothing!
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I’m a finicky sleeper, so it was tough adjusting to a busy dorm (my room was right next to the bathroom, too). If you can relate, there are a number of essentials that will make it much easier to get a good night’s sleep, even on nights when the building is busy.
1. Brooklinen Luxe Hardcore Sheet Bundle,
It doesn’t get any more comfy than these silky-smooth sateen sheets, a favorite of our market editor. It’s unbelievably snuggly and comes in a rainbow of colors to match any decor.
2. Lucid 2″ Memory Foam Mattress Topper, $54.99
The mattresses provided for you in college are thin, old, and hard—and who wants to sleep on that?! However, you can make the surface much more comfortable with this mattress topper. Memory foam is a great option, as it provides the perfect amount of cushioning and support.
3. Big Red Rooster 6 Sound White Noise Machine, $23.71
There’s always something going on in dorms. To block out all the distracting noises so you can get to sleep, you may want to invest in a white-noise machine, which will lull you off to dreamland with gentle sounds.
Unless you want to be woken up by the sun streaming in your window at 6 a.m., it’s a good idea to purchase some room-darkening curtains. Trust us, they’ll come in handy!
If you want your dorm to feel like home (and hopefully minimize homesickness), you’ve got to make it your own! Yes, Command hooks are a must-have, but you can also think outside the box when it comes to decorating—think temporary wallpaper, live plants, and unique photo displays. Here are some of our favorites.
1. City Maps Peel & Stick Wallpaper, $65
Dorm rooms are usually painted a snooze-worthy white or tan, but you can add your own personal flair to the room with the help of this temporary wallpaper. (Why wasn’t this a thing when I was in college?) There are a lot of options available that are easy to put up and mess-free to take down, but check with your roommate first so you don’t ruffle any feathers.
2. Bloomscape ZZ Plant, $69
I’m a die-hard plant lover, so it should come as no surprise that I think every dorm room needs a few plants. Personally, I’d recommend a spider plant or ZZ plant for your dorm, as they can withstand quite a bit of neglect, just in case you leave them in your dorm over winter break.
3. Wire Wall Grid Panel, $20+
No dorm room is complete without a few reminders of home. We love the idea of using a wire wall grid and mini clothespins as a photo display.
4. The Holiday Aisle Mini Curtain String Lights, $34.99
Your dorm room will feel oh-so-warm and cozy after you decorate with these string lights. Each curtain is about five and a half feet in length and you can connect up to three to cover a large wall.
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There will probably be days when you don’t feel like eating dining hall food, and luckily, these mini appliances are compact enough to use in a dorm room.
1. Keurig K-Mini Single Serve Coffee Maker,
Should you roll up to your dorm with a full kitchen in tow? Definitely not, but you can at least pack your own mini Keurig to brew up a cup of coffee before class. Just remember to clean it occasionally.
2. DASH Mini Rice Cooker Steamer, $23.99
You might be surprised at all the different meals you can make with just a rice cooker. Sure, you can make rice, but most rice cookers can also be used for oatmeal, steamed veggies, ramen, hard-boiled eggs, and more—perfect for those times you don’t feel like trekking to the dining hall.
3. Zwilling Enfinigy Personal Blender,
You can whip up smoothies and shakes with this adorable mini blender. It holds 19 ounces and comes in a two match-with-anything colors, plus the blending jar doubles as a to-go cup.
There are a whole lot of distractions in college dorms. If you want to make the most of your study time, you have to be able to tune it all out and focus. These might help.
1. Beats by Dr. Dre – Beats Fit Pro True Wireless Noise Canceling In-Ear Headphones,
If you like to study at your desk, noise-canceling headphones will be your best friend. They’ll allow you to focus on what you’re reading or writing, no matter what your roomie or neighbors are up to.
2. Kitchen Safe Time Locking Container, $69.90
Can’t seem to put down your phone? You might want to install an app-blocker on your phone to keep yourself off social media. Or you could lock it away in a time-controlled container.
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