25 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.

 

25 Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips

 

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Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips #1

The first step to creating your dream dorm room is to make a list. Start with a FREE Printable Dorm Shopping Checklist. After purusing Pinterest and other sources of ideas, go through your checklist and decide which items are your dorm room essentials. The dorm shopping list is available in the Almost Empty Nest Printables Library. You may sign up below this post for access.

Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips #2

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.

Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips #3

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 these baskets for shoes and other clothing accessories. It is so much easier to throw your shoes in a basket than it is to put them in little slots.

Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips #4

Think about how you want to get your laundry to the washers and dryers. My daughter chose this gray laundry basket for several reasons – one because her room colors were going to be gray and light blue.  (It also comes in a blue/green color.) Also, the laundry facility in her dorm is close to her room, so she did not have to carry it very far. It hold quite a lot of clothes and can be easily carried back and forth to her dorm room. If you are going to have to leave the dorm to wash your clothes, you might consider a backpack style laundry tote like this one.

Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips #5

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 modular units from Container Store. You can pack your clothes right in the drawers and set up the unit when you get there and bonus – it fits perfectly under a lofted bed.

Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips #6

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)

Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips #7

This beautiful basket also came from the Container Store. She put it under her bed to store extra towels, throw blankets, and things.

Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips #8

Take maximum advantage of the space under your bed. These rolling carts store a LOT of items and fit perfectly under the bed. The carts are available in 7 different colors

Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips #9

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! This mattress topper is a 4 inch memory foam that we purchased from Amazon. Her bed was a twin bed. Most dorms have twin xl beds. Here is a similar topper in a twin xl.

Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips #10

A padded headboard to lean on with plug-ins is a great item to have and will be enjoyed and appreciated every day. This one came from Pottery Barn.

Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips #11

Buy a functional tote to go to the shower. Make sure it has holes in the bottom to drain out water. This cute tote is available in several colors.

Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips #12

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

Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips #13

It is a long way to the ground from a bed lofted to the highest setting. Bring a stepstool or other way to get up on your bed. We went back to the Container Store and bought this doubly functional Poppin Storage cube.

Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips #14

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.

Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips #15

Do not leave home without a collection of Command Hooks in various sizes. You can hang everything from a drapery rod to a place for your bath towel with these babies.

Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips #16

An over-the-door hook set is also great for purses, bath towels, jackets, and other items.

Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips #17

We returned to the Container Store and purchased a refrigerator 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. 

Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips #18

Prepare to do a little cleaning when you get there. Some things will be move-in ready, others not so much. Others have not been painted in several years (like this wall) and the scuffs are not going to come off! I worked hard, but did not make much progress.

Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips #19

To have a long 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. Dormify carries long bedskirts just for dorm rooms.

Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips #20

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 measureaments you will be able to select exactly which items will fit in a drawer. I have pieces from this modular item 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.

Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips #21

Don't forget a first aid kit. A small 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. See How to Make a DIY Dorm First Aid kit HERE.

Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips #22

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.

Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips #23

Put together a Move-In Survival Kit. A bit of prep and a few tools will help dorm move-in day go smoothly. You can read more about what to bring and how to survive the day HERE.

Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips #24

Take some encouraging scriptures with you. These printable Bible verses will be wonderful additions to a bulletin board and are available in the Almost Empty Nest printables library. You may sign up below for access. 

Dorm Room Ideas and Shopping Tips #25

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!!  

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