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25 Brilliant Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips

by | May 29, 2024 | NPP Recommends, Dorm Room

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25 Brilliant Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips

Planning a dorm room and collecting dorm room ideas is a fun and exciting experience. You want to make sure you have all of the dorm room essentials and a good way to organize your things in a super small space. I have helped set up two dorm rooms – one for my oldest son and one for my daughter. This 25 Dorm Room Ideas post contains ideas and inspiration from my daughter’s dorm room.

dorm room ideas
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25 Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips

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3 page dorm shopping checklist

Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips #1: Download our Printable Dorm Shopping List

The first step to creating your dream dorm room is to make a list. Start with a FREE Printable Dorm Shopping Checklist. After perusing Pinterest and other sources of ideas, go through your checklist and decide which items are your dorm room essentials.

abby at cs

Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips #2: Prepare to spend a lot of time researching and shopping

Decisions…. decisions…. Shopping can be overwhelming even with a good list. Prepare to spend several hours shopping.

My daughter and I drove to the Oklahoma City Container Store and spent well over 2 hours as she looked at all of the possibilities and decided which items would work the best for her.

Other best dorm shopping spots are Target and IKEA.

baskets

Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips #3: Don’t try to organize every little item

One thing you need to think about is how much you want to organize. It is possible to go overboard coming up with an organization system for every small item you own.

If you know that the chances are slim to none that you are ever going to routinely put your things in small compartments, go for bigger storage options. My daughter chose baskets similar to these Large Tapered Canvas Baskets. It is so much easier to throw your shoes in a basket than it is to put them in little slots.

laundry basket

Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips #4: Laundry baskets

Think about how you want to get your laundry to the washers and dryers. My daughter chose the gray laundry basket in the picture, but Container Store does not carry this basket anymore.

You can check out all sorts of laundry solutions at the Container Store and on Amazon. This Mesh Laundry Hamper is cheap and will get the job done.

drawers

Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips #5: Buy quality storage items

Buy quality items that will last past your first year. A lot of places sell plastic drawers, but none are as functional and as well made as these Like-It Modular Drawers. My daughter went to college in 2019 and these drawers are still being used in her medical school apartment.

Pack your clothes in the drawers and set up the unit when you get there and bonus – it fits perfectly under a lofted bed.

colors

Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips #6: Coordinate your bedding and room decor

Lay out your bed items at home to make sure it all coordinates exactly how you picture it. (Headboard, Sheets, and Throw Blanket: Pottery Barn, Decorative pillow: West Elm, Duvet: Urban Outfitters)

basket

Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips #7: Cute functional baskets

This beautiful basket also came from the Container Store. She put it under her bed to store extra towels, throw blankets, and things. It is another item she is still using 5 years later.

Here is a similar Seagrass and Cotton Basket.

rolling cart

Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips #8: A rolling cart is the best

Take maximum advantage of the space under your bed. These rolling carts fit a lot of items!

mattress pad

Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips #9: You need a mattress topper

Although no one will ever see it, get the best quality mattress topper you can. You will spend a lot of time on your bed because there are not a lot of other places to sit!

Hers was a 4 Inch Gel Memory Foam Mattress Topper from Amazon.

headboard

Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips #10: Get a comfortable headboard

We bought a tufted headboard with outlets from Pottery Barn. I looked at several sites and cannot find a headboard with outlets anymore.

One thing that caught my eye was this Twin headboard pillow. It looks super comfy and does not require any installation.

shower caddy

Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips #11: Shower totes

Buy a functional tote to go to the shower. Make sure it has holes in the bottom to drain out water. Because it has been 5 years, some of our items are not available anymore.

Check out the full College Shop at Container store and also Amazon for many shower tote options.

shark bathmat

Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips #12: Don’t be afraid of a bit of whimsey

Don’t be afraid to add a bit of whimsey. My daughter found this shark bathmat at Target

bed

Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips #13: A step up for the lofted beds

It is a long way to the ground from a bed lofted to the highest setting. Bring a step stool or other way to get up on your bed. My daughter is 5’8″ and she still wanted something to step onto to get into her bed.

We went back to the Container Store and bought a Poppin Box Seat. It is super sturdy, can be used as storage, and as a step up into your bed.

coffee bar

Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips #14: The Coffee bar

There are so many cute and functional storage ideas for your K-Cups. My daughter’s roommate set up their coffee bar with this jar and adorable sign she found at the Magnolia Silos in Waco.

command hooks

Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips #15: Command Hooks

Do not leave home without a Command Hooks Variety Pack. You can hang everything from a drapery rod to a place for your bath towel with these babies.

over the door

Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips #16: Over the Door Hooks

Over the Door Hooks are great for purses, bath towels, jackets, and other items.

refrigerator cart

Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips #17: Refrigerator Cart

We returned to the Container Store and purchased an Elfa Cart after realizing my daughter had no where to store her food. It is very sturdy and easily held the micro-refrigerator required by the school. 

It can be used as general storage in a closet or under a desk in an apartment.

You can also find a refrigerator cart on Amazon, but I think the Elfa Cart is far superior.

cleaner

Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips #18: Bring some cleaning supplies

Prepare to do a little cleaning when you get there. Some things will be move-in ready, others not so much. Some all-purpose cleaner and some paper towels will be good for wiping out anything missed by the previous occupants.

long bedskirt

Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips #19: Long bedskirts

To have an extra long dorm bedskirt or not have a long bedskirt? It’s a big decision. I wanted to buy one for my daughter because I thought it would make the room look more finished. She did not want one because word on the street is that the girls end up tucking them in their mattresses because they are in the way when accessing your things.

Be sure to get the measurements from the school. An extra long dorm bedskirt comes in sizes between a 30″ drop and a 50″ drop.

drawer organizers

Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips #20: Measure everything

Many university websites list the dimensions of the room, closet, furniture, even interior drawers. These measurements will be your best friend when you are selecting items like desk and drawer organizers

With the measurements you will be able to select exactly which items will fit in a drawer. I have pieces from this metal drawer organizer set in my own desk at home and was able to plan exactly which pieces to purchase and how to arrange them to get maximum use in my desk.

Make a DIY College First Aid Kit with red first aid kit and supplies

Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips #21: Dorm first aid Kit

Don’t forget a Dorm first aid kitA small DIY Dorm first aid kit can be easily put together with the items needed for minor scrapes, headaches, menstrual cramps, diarhea and other small emergencies a college student might have. I have made first aid kits as graduation gifts before.

navy duffle bag

Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips #22: Luggage that stores flat

Duffle bags are perfect for weekend travel and for move-in and move-out. They hold a lot of items, store flat, and are an easy way to move clothes, shoes, towels, sheets, etc. in or out of the dorm.

survival kit

Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips #23: Bring a college move in survival kit

Put together a College Move-In Survival KitA bit of prep and a few tools will help dorm move-in day go smoothly.

Bible Verse Cards for High School Graduation printable cards

Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips #24: Take some encouragement

Take some encouraging scriptures with you. These Printable Bible Verses will be wonderful additions to a bulletin board.

send off

Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips #25: Don’t forget the sunglassses

And finally, keep it all in perspective. Dorm rooms are temporary. They should be a comfortable and stress-free zone for a new college student to rest, hang out with friends, study, eat some meals, and absorb college life. Pinterest perfect should not be the only goal when shopping. Buy what you need and some things you want.

Moms, honor your kid’s wishes about their room and kids, be respectful of mom and dad’s pocket books and “suggestions.” Sometimes they have been there and know a few things. And DON’T FORGET SUNGLASSES FOR THOSE GOODBYE PICS!! 

Emily and Abby
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All Moved in and Ready for the Year!

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College Move-In Day Checklist

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