Dorm Room Decor and Essentials For College

Back by popular demand – all the dorm room decor and essentials your college student will need!
It might seem a little early, but now is the best time to tackle this list of dorm room and college living essentials.

Door room decor and essentials for college.

Dorm life has come a long way from the plastic milk crates and wipe off memo boards that I remember from my own college life experience.

Although, I will say, most dorm rooms are still the same small spaces I remember.

I first posted this round up of door room decor, essentials and school supplies several years ago!

Before I even had kids in college, the original round up was done with the help of our former babysitter.

Now that I have my own college students, I’ve updated this post dramatically!

Early Preparation Is Key

Getting kids off to school, especially college freshmen – is fraught with all types of emotions and anxiety, no surprise there.

I tend to cope with this stress by getting everything as organized and ready as possible.

I know I’m not alone here.

In fact, if you like a list to work off of, and really, who doesn’t? I highly recommend this college packing list!

Today, I’m mostly going to focus on a few things you might not think of.

Since I think sheets and bath towels and so forth are pretty obvious.

Although, if this is your first time and you’re new to this – please note dorm beds are almost always a twin xl size.

This is an important detail when it comes to buying your student a mattress topper or mattress protector and a mattress pad (highly recommend both!) dorm bedding and a duvet cover.

While we’re discussing dorm beds – most kids like to capture some extra space by raising the bed.

A great way to do this is with these bed risers.

So many places carry them, including Amazon Prime – which is where we got ours.

OK, so let’s get into it!

mini fridge for dorm roomMini fridgethis is my daughter’s top pick, as the choices in the dining hall weren’t always great. However, many schools have services which will rent your student one, so you might want to hold off on purchasing this.

Dorm Room Decor Essentials

Here are my top picks for college dorm room essentials.

Start with a fan!

Most dorm rooms don’t have air conditioning and move-in day, regardless of where the school is, is often hot and airless.

We went with this one after a lot of research.

BIG TIP: pack your fan LAST, as you’ll want it in the dorm room FIRST ~ trust me.

Best advice ever, from a friend of mine who did this a few times already…

Another great tip, bring along a tool kit.

Preferably one with a hammer, a tape measure, scissors and allen wrenches…this one has it all.

You might want to bring your own, but you should really get a set to leave with your student.

You’ll also want to make sure your kid has some rubber flip flops or a set of shower shoes!

No one wants to go with bare feet into a school shower, especially if it’s a communal bathroom situation.

Below are a few more key items.

over the door 11 hook organizer rack

As most college students will tell you, these are small dorm rooms, with limited closet space.

dorm room shoe rack.white 2-tier adjustable shoe rack

These kids really don’t have much space in their college dorm room, so the one single thing I want to recommend are these command hooks.

These adhesive strips were such a life saver Freshman year as we used them in so many different ways!

dorm room storage ottomanstorage ottoman

With storage options at a premium, any product – like this storage ottoman, is also always a good idea.

It’s also pretty helpful when it comes to getting up into those raised beds!

And, of course it’s nice because it also provides extra seating.

white brick temporary wall paper dorm room decor essentialBrick peel and stick wallpaper gives those cold walls less of a dorm room feel.

One last thing – My daughter also loves her string lights!

Not really a necessity, but they did look very cute!

Experienced parents, let me know in the comments, if there’s something critical I need to add here! Thanks. And to all you parents out there- good luck !

PS: See also – under fifty dollar home accents, for even more ideas on how to zhush up any dorm room or apartment.


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Leave a Comment


    • Sue De Chiara wrote:

      Thanks! yes to both, and at least one extension cord…you’re so right!:)

      Published on 7.23.21 · Reply
  1. Christa wrote:

    Casper twin xl bed topper, carried at Target- makes a HUGE difference.

    Published on 7.21.20 · Reply
    • Sue De Chiara wrote:

      Good to know! Thanks so much for the tip!

      Published on 7.21.20 · Reply
  2. pve design wrote:

    Way to "Zhush" up a dorm room. Makes me wishing I were heading off to college, again! (Not) You'll laugh but at the end of my son's Freshman year, I tossed nearly all the linens in a dumpster that was outside the dorm. I was scared to bring it home. Boys.
    Girls are so different.

    Published on 7.25.14 · Reply
  3. what an elegant dorm room with that pillow. In love with mine!

    Published on 7.24.14 · Reply
  4. Now that's a cork board we would have loved to have in our college days! So great to see you today and catch up and we hope your sitters heed your sage decorating advice. Their rooms will be the best in the dorm!
    C + C

    Published on 7.23.14 · Reply