I know I’m pretty late to the back-to-school party at this point, but I always forget that everyone else goes back to campus a whole month before I do! (Quarter system life.) Nonetheless, I figured it would be fun and helpful to share a post detailing some of my dorm room essentials from over the years, since moving in and decorating is always my favorite part of a new school year. I’ll be a senior this fall, and all of these items are pieces I got freshman year—they’ve stood the test of time and have proved useful every living arrangement since. Anything in pink text is a hyperlink to make shopping super easy, so without further ado, here are my 15 dorm room must-haves!
I can’t remember what compelled me to get this rolling storage cart my freshman year (the four grey bins in the right side of the closet), but boy, am I glad I did! This storage cart is well-made, the wheels on the bottom make it easy to transport, and the cart makes for the perfect additional storage space for athletic wear, pajamas, bras/underwear, etc. Take it from a clothing collector—the provided dorm room dresser is not enough space.
Okay okay, I admit, I brought WAY too many clothes and shoes to school freshman year. But these shoe racks are amazing for fitting in your closet or under your bed! They stack on top of each other (there are two pictured here), and they’re very well-made. Yes, they’re a little more expensive, but they actually last—those flimsy white shoe racks break really easily and will ultimately be a waste of money. I recommend investing in pieces that will last you throughout college and into your first apartment so that you don’t have to keep repurchasing the same cheap products.
You can buy these exact shoe racks here.
Again, I brought too many clothes, but these multi-tiered hangers have still been super useful in every closet. I love using them to display my shorts and skirts instead of wrinkling my clothing and using up valuable space in a dresser drawer.
Find these multi-tiered hangers here.
Just in case the shoe racks aren’t enough space for you, I also recommend one of these hanging shoe holders for sandals and flats (heels and boots, on the other hand, fit better on the racks).
I never had the traditional ‘college experience’ of sharing a shower with twelve other girls on my floor, but sharing a suite-style bathroom with just three other girls was cause enough for me to wear shower shoes every time I went to the bathroom.
Like shower shoes, robes are a bathroom necessity in college, especially because they mean less time spent in the grubby bathrooms (and less risk of dropping your clean clothes on the shower floor). Skip the hassle and just wear your robe back to your dorm room, where you can get dressed more comfortably.
If you haven’t caught on yet, shower necessities are all about convenience and spending the least amount of time in the bathroom as possible. I have loved this style of shower caddy over the years for quickly and easily carrying my goods to the bathroom and back (it’s also perfect for camping or moving all your bathroom products that need to stay upright).
You can buy my favorite kind of shower tote here.
Gross subject, I know, but this toilet spray is a necessity if you want to be comfortable going to the bathroom in a shared space. The product also comes in small, portable sizes for your purse to take with you everywhere you go. I swear by it!
I never thought I needed a husband pillow until my parents got me this reversible sequin one freshman year. I use it ALL the time to sit on my bed and binge Netflix (or to do homework, which I know you’re not supposed to do in bed—tsk tsk).
Here is a similar neutral option without sequins (while the reversible sequins on mine are fun, my hair often gets caught in them).
If your bed is lofted and you’re even relatively short, you’re going to want a step stool (not to mention, it’s super helpful for hanging decorations). In fact, a stool should always be a no-brainer—I used mine a ton in my apartment’s kitchen last year to reach the tall cabinets and will undoubtedly use it a bunch this coming school year, too.
Here’s my exact step stool.
I got this grey laundry bag freshman year (which has backpack straps!), and it has been the perfect thing for lugging my laundry up and down to the laundry room. The straps make it so easy to carry, and I even used to haul this bad-boy onto the Denver light-rail for an hour-long ride to do laundry at my aunt’s house.
You can buy my exact laundry bag here.
It amazes me how many college students use their cellphones as alarm clocks. I recommend investing in a real alarm clock for two reasons: one, you should be turning your phone off every now and again to help it run smoother; and two, more importantly, sleeping next to your phone (where you’re tempted to look at it before bed and when you wake up at night) is not good for your sleep cycles. We all know this. I always turn my phone off at night and use my Bose sound system as my alarm, but any ol’ alarm clock would do—anything to get away from the phone for a while.
That black cylindrical thing on the middle shelf in the pic above is a rotating fan, and boy, have I gotten a lot of use out of it over the years. I used to walk across campus after class and arrive in my dorm room super hot and sweating, so I’d plop down right in front of this fan until I cooled off. My freshman year roommate also loved using it for white noise when we slept!
Here are a few good fan options.
I know this is nothing new, but I love Command products—whether that be hooks for hanging garlands or towels, Velcro strips for hanging picture frames or mirrors, and everything in between. I also discovered a new kind of clip last year that worked perfectly for hanging my big ball string lights around the perimeter of my bedroom wall. They really do have a product for everything, and if you follow the directions closely, they leave no damage.
You can shop a whole slew of Command products here.
Okay, so maybe twinkle lights aren’t an absolute essential in most dorm rooms, but they sure are fun. Last year, my apartment bedroom didn’t have any lights at all, so my twinkle lights were a necessity after dark. During my freshman and sophomore years, I loved to turn them on when watching movies, doing facemasks and relaxing, etc.
The possibilities for string lights are endless. Here are globe string lights similar to mine, and here are really cool curtain string lights that I’ve been seeing in dorm décor inspo everywhere lately.
To see more of my dorm room decorations and room layouts, check out the blog posts below!
My Dorm Room Tour! (Freshman Year)
Back to School Series: Dorm Sweet Dorm (Sophomore Year)
Apartment Bedroom Tour (Junior Year)
It’s funny to see how cluttered my dorm room was freshman year! I made so many decorations and couldn’t wait to hang them up, but now looking back, it’s kind of a lot… My décor style has definitely matured since then, and I’ve outgrown this color scheme. However, with just one year of college left, it’s not worth changing my bedroom decorations now—my room will be blue for one last time this fall! Since I’m finally living by myself this year, I’ll be able to decorate the common spaces in my apartment, too, and I’m so excited for the new color scheme and décor I’ve chosen for those areas. Stay tuned for those blog posts mid-September.
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For those of you heading to college for the first time this fall or those returners looking to replace old dorm supplies, I hope you found this post helpful! I also want to point out that I have preferred Bed, Bath, and Beyond for all my dorm and apartment products since freshman year. They offer so many coupons and—you didn’t hear this from me—most store tellers won’t care if the coupons have already expired. Last year, when I was buying a ton of kitchen and bathroom supplies for my apartment, I think I used 20 coupons before they cut me off, and I saved nearly $200. I highly recommend BB&B!
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