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College Packing: Dorm Room Essentials for Your Freshman Year and On

College Packing: Dorm Room Essentials for Your Freshman Year and On

Moving into the dorm rooms is a significant milestone for every first-year college student. It's an exciting (and potentially nerve-wracking) time, but it also comes with the challenge of transforming a small, often clinical space into a cozy and functional home away from home. To help you create a comfortable and stylish dorm room, we've compiled a comprehensive list of essentials that'll make you forget that “homesickness” is even a thing.

Introduction

There’s no other way to put it: your dorm room is your new home, and setting it up right is key to feeling comfortable and at ease in a brand-new space. This guide covers all the must-have items to turn your dorm into a personal sanctuary, including some great options that I wish I'd known to bring with me back in the day.

Dorm Room Bedding Essentials

Let's start with the most important part: your bed. After long days of classes, studying, and campus activities, you'll need a cozy place to crash. Is it the day of your midterm? You might even be coming back to your bed to shed a tear or two. Nevertheless, you want it to be as comfortable as possible.

“If your child has a vested interest in design, get a floor plan of the room and see what they allow. Even essentials can feel “couture” if you customize."Lj Savarie, designer at Savarie Interiors

Mattress Covers and Toppers

Let’s face it, mattresses in dorms are used by many people over many years and they are often coated in a vinyl or plastic coating. We think an essential way to start is to cover your mattress with a soft, cotton mattress cover. If you really want to make your mattress more comfy and cozy think about also adding a mattress topper.  Some mattress covers come with a padded top which may be easier than buying two separate items. Either way, we think these are both good investments in creating a comfy dorm bed.

Dorm Bedding: Comforters, Duvets, Sheets, and Pillows

Invest in a high-quality comforter that fits your school’s climate and personal style. In fact, we have a whole section of our site dedicated to dorm bedding! A good comforter will keep you warm during the cooler months and comfortable during the warmer months. Plus, the right comforter can be a focal point of your room’s décor, setting the tone for the rest of your space.

One thing about comforters is that they are bulky to wash!  So, consider a duvet cover instead.  It’s a fabric envelope that holds a comforter or duvet inner.  The great thing about it is it keeps the inner protected and you only need to wash the cover regularly, which is much less bulky and easier to manage.

Pair your duvet or comforter with soft, breathable bed sheets. The quality of your sheets can make a big difference in your sleep quality. Look for sheets with the right feel for you. If you start to get all confused with thread count, consider reading our thread count blog to help you make sense of all of that information.

Dorm Room Bedding Essentials: Best Seller - Cross Stitch Quilt Set

A good set of pillows, including a mix of sleeping and decorative pillows, will add both comfort and chicness to your dorm room. Don't underestimate the power of a good pillow; it can make all the difference during those all-nighters and lazy Sunday mornings.

“With these high beds, the twin-size quilt won’t hang down long enough. But a queen hangs a little longer on the side so you don’t see what’s stored beneath the bed. I have clients that are married and in homes and they’re still using my quilts from six years ago in college”Dawn Thomas, the principal designer at After Five Designs

Extra Blankets and Throws for Dorm Room Comfort

Nights in the dorm rooms can get surprisingly chilly, so having extra blankets and throws is a must. Also, you don’t have a lot of spaces to sit and hang out in your room, so you will find yourself on your bed a lot. Having a cozy blanket to pull over you while you study or hang with your roommate, or just chill, will be really welcome. Throws and blankets can also add a touch of personality and extra warmth to your bed. They’re perfect for those late-night study sessions or binge-watching your favorite shows. Plus, they can be draped over your bed or a chair to add a pop of color and texture to your room.

Dorm Storage Solutions

Dorm rooms are notorious for their lack of space, so smart storage solutions are essential to making the most of it. Keeping your room organized will not only make it look better but also help you stay on top of your academic game.

“Wondering where you are going to store everything in a small 12-by-14-foot dorm room? Use under-bed storage, wall-mounted shelves, and storage ottomans to make the most of limited space while keeping things organized.”Frances Lacefield Hovis, designer and founder of Room 422

Under-Bed Storage for Dorm Essentials

Maximize your space with under-bed storage bins or drawers. They’re perfect for shoes, extra bedding, or seasonal clothes. This often-overlooked space can be a lifesaver when it comes to staying organized. Look for storage solutions that fit snugly under your bed, maximizing every inch of space. If your dorm room allows it, you can also consider lofting your bed. This adds to the potential of your under-bed storage–allowing you to opt for larger bins and therefore more storage.

Over-the-Door Organizers and Hooks

Over-the-door organizers are lifesavers for holding shoes, toiletries, and other small items. Hooks (on the walls or inside closets) are great for towels, bags, and coats. These simple additions can free up valuable floor and desk space, making your room feel more spacious and organized. Plus, they’re easy to install and move around as needed. A pro tip from us? If you’re afraid to nail/drill things into the wall, then use command strips. They’re quick to install while being a breeze to take down when it comes time for your move-out.

Decorative Baskets for Dorm Room Organization

Keep your room tidy with decorative baskets. They add style while keeping your things organized. Use smaller ones on your desk for everything from textbooks to snacks. Opt for baskets that match your room's decor to keep things looking cohesive and stylish. They can also double as decor pieces, adding texture and color to your room and desk.

Dorm Room Furniture Must-Haves

The right furniture can make a huge difference in your dorm room’s functionality and comfort. Think pragmatically when doing so by considering pieces that can serve multiple purposes beyond “furniture”.

"As much as ramen cups stacked on top of a microwave are a college dorm mainstay, they don’t have to be the focal point of your room. Hide your fridge, microwave, and snack stockpile in a cabinet. If you place it between the beds, it also becomes a nightstand.”Dawn Thomas, the principal designer at After Five Designs

Space-Saving Furniture

Multi-functional furniture, like seating that doubles as storage or foldable desks, is a great way to maximize your limited space. My first-year roommate in college used a TV tray table to study in bed! Consider items like those or ottomans with hidden storage or desks that can be tucked away when not in use. These pieces help you make the most of your space in both style AND functionality.

“A lot fits under that little desk. A hair dryer, straightener, extra paper, or other school supplies can fit under there if it’s organized. And then we add a skirt to the bottom of the desk to hide that storage.”Dawn Thomas, the principal designer at After Five Designs

Ergonomic Study Chairs and Portable Lap Desks for Studying Essentials

A comfy study chair is essential for long study sessions. Consider an ergonomic chair that supports good posture, reducing the risk of back pain and helping you stay focused for longer periods. Portable lap desks are also handy for studying in bed or on the go. They provide a stable surface for your laptop or books, making it easy to study wherever you feel most comfortable.

Cushioned Seating for Dorm Room Comfort

Cushioned seating like poufs or bean bags is great for hanging out with all the friends you’ll be making. Look for some poufs that that open and provide additional storage – those can be a game changer on the storage side and also provide extra seating and a cool look to your room. If your dorm room errs on the smaller side (meaning you don’t have space for a bean bag), then consider getting yourself a seat cover for your desk chair. It’ll surely save your bum from soreness if you plan on pulling all-nighters at your desk to study.

Decor and Accessories

Personalizing your dorm room with decor and accessories makes it feel more like your own space. This is where you can really let your personality shine through.

“Dorms are small and sterile spaces that often feel very institutionalized. Style a faux fiddle in a corner or add a real plant by a window for visual appeal. You can also hang succulents in macramé hangers or grab small pots of greenery from the checkout aisle of HomeGoods for your desk or dresser.”Jenny Reimold, designer and owner of Whim & Willow Designs

Art, Mirrors, and Photos

Decorate your walls with art, mirrors, and photos. Mirrors will make your room feel bigger, while photos add a personal touch. Use removable wall hooks or adhesive strips to hang your decor without damaging the walls. Choose artwork that reflects your interests and style. Mix and match different pieces to create a gallery wall that’s uniquely yours.

Rugs and Curtains

A cozy rug adds warmth and comfort, and curtains provide privacy and control light. Choose colors and patterns that complement your bedding and overall theme. Rugs also help define different areas in your room, like a study space or lounging area. Curtains not only add to the decor but also help you control the natural light, allowing you to sleep in if you decide to party too hard on a Friday night.

"For future use and versatility, don’t measure the curtains to the length of the dorm windows, which tend to be short. I do mine longer because when those nine months are over, the drapes are too nice to sell for half of what you paid for them. Instead, use them in your first apartment and they’ll work with more window heights.”Dawn Thomas, the principal designer at After Five Designs

Dorm Room’s Lighting Solutions

Good lighting is crucial. String lights, desk lamps, and novelty lights can brighten your room and welcome a cozy atmosphere. Opt for warm-toned lights to make your room feel more inviting. A good desk lamp is essential for late-night study sessions, while string lights add a magical touch to your dorm room. Novelty lights, like neon signs or light-up letters, can be fun if you want to add a bit of pizzazz to your wall or desk.

Tech Gadgets and Accessories

Tech essentials keep you connected and entertained. From staying on top of your studies to enjoying some downtime, the right gadgets can make a big difference.

Power Strips and Extension Cords

With multiple devices to charge, power strips and extension cords are a must. Look for ones with surge protection to keep your electronics safe. Make sure they have enough outlets to accommodate all your gadgets, from your laptop and phone to your desk lamp and mini-fridge.

Portable Speakers and Headphones

Portable speakers and headphones are great for music and studying. Choose quality products that offer good sound and durability. Whether you’re hosting a small get-together or need to focus on your studies, having the right audio equipment is key. If your showers are communal, it’s also nice to have a speaker so you can listen to music while showering. Noise-canceling headphones are a GAME-CHANGER when you need to drown out distractions.

Alarm Clocks or Smart Devices

An alarm clock or smart device helps manage your time and ensures you wake up on time for classes. Look for features like multiple alarms, snooze buttons, and even sunrise simulation to make waking up easier. Smart devices (i.e. a watch) can also help you stay organized with reminders, schedules, and more. Of course, if you want your phone to be the all-in-one device to handle these you can do that too!

Bathroom and Laundry Essentials

Sharing a bathroom can be tricky, so having the right essentials is important. These items will help you stay clean and organized.

Shower Caddies, Towels, and Bathrobes

A shower caddy keeps your toiletries organized and easy to transport. Invest in soft, absorbent towels or maybe even a comfortable bathrobe. This makes those early-morning or late-night trips to the bathroom much more manageable. Choose a caddy with plenty of compartments to keep everything in place, and have a dedicated spot in your dorm room where you keep it. That way you’ll always know where it is, and it’ll be hard to forget. It’s the worst to get to the showers and realize you forgot all your supplies!

Compact Laundry Hampers and Drying Racks

A compact laundry hamper keeps dirty clothes organized, and a drying rack is useful for air-drying delicate items. Look for hampers that are easy to carry to the laundry room and drying racks that can be folded away when not in use. This will help you stay on top of your laundry, which can sometimes pile up with all the other things going on in college.

Safety and Maintenance

Ensuring your dorm room is safe and well-maintained is an underlooked essential. These items will help you stay prepared for an unexpected emergency situation.

First-Aid Kits and Basic Medications

Keep a first-aid kit and basic over-the-counter medications on hand for minor injuries or illnesses. This will save you a trip to the campus health center while ensuring you're prepared for minor health issues. Stock your kit with band-aids, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, and any personal medications you might need.

Cleaning Supplies

Stock up on cleaning supplies specifically for small spaces. Disinfecting wipes, a handheld vacuum, and a multi-purpose cleaner help keep your dorm clean. Regular cleaning not only keeps your room looking nice but also helps prevent the spread of germs. Make cleaning a regular part of your routine to keep your space fresh and inviting. It’ll also make your mom happy to know that you keep your space clean!

Conclusion

Setting up your dorm room is a chance to make your little corner of the world truly yours. With these essentials, you'll have a space that's not just functional but also bursting with personality and style. From snuggling into cozy bedding after a long day to keeping your life organized with smart storage solutions, everything on this list is here to elevate your dorm experience.

“Personalization is the biggest trend we are seeing in dorm rooms. Gen Z is all about creating a space that reflects their personal style, which has led to the creation of niche micro-trends such as coastal cowgirl, cottagecore, and Barbiecore. Don’t settle for cookie cutter or be afraid to let your authentic personality shine through in your new space.”Amanda Zuckerman, cofounder and president of Dormify

Check out Levtex Home’s dorm products, especially their bedding. The stylish and cozy designs will turn your dorm room into the coolest room on your floor. Seriously, there's nothing like collapsing into a well-made bed after a full day of lectures, study sessions, and making new friends.

Dorm Room Bedding Essentials: Best Seller - Camden Quilt Set

Remember, your dorm room is YOUR personal sanctuary. It's where you'll cram for exams, chill with friends, and maybe even have a few late-night heart-to-hearts. By choosing the right essentials and adding your own flair, you can create a space that's not just practical but also totally you. So go wild with the decor, make it cozy, and let your personality shine through. Enjoy every moment of decorating and making this space your own – and get ready for some of the best years of your life!

FAQ

How can I make the most of the limited space in my dorm room?

Maximize storage with under-bed bins, over-the-door organizers, and multi-functional furniture. Use decorative baskets and bins to keep miscellaneous items organized. Consider using storage containers to neatly pack and store your dorm essentials, ensuring you make the most of every inch of your college dorm room. Hanging organizers and stick-on hooks can also help keep your space clutter-free and functional.

Where can I purchase Levtex Home bedding and decor?

Levtex Home products are available on their official website and selected retail partners. Check out their online store for a wide range of stylish and cozy options. You can buy everything from twin duvet covers to soft bed sheets to complete your dorm bedding set. Their dorm room essentials will help you create a comfortable and stylish living space.

What should I look for in dorm bedding?

Look for comfort, durability, and style. Opt for breathable materials and ensure your dorm bedding includes essentials like a good set of bed sheets and a comfortable duvet or comforter. Investing in quality dorm room essentials will make your bed a cozy retreat after long school days.

How can I personalize my dorm room on a budget?

Use inexpensive decor like wall art, photos, and string lights. DIY projects and thrift store finds can also add a personal touch without breaking the bank. Adding room essentials like cozy throws and dorm storage solutions can make your space both functional and stylish. Consider multifunctional items that serve both as decor and storage to maximize your small space.

What are some quick tips for maintaining a clean and organized dorm room?

Keep a regular cleaning schedule, use storage solutions to reduce clutter, and stay on top of laundry and trash. Having the right cleaning supplies on hand will make maintenance easier. Dorm essentials like a compact laundry hamper and shower shoes can also help keep your space tidy and organized. Utilize small storage bins and organizers to keep your school supplies and studying essentials in order.

Are there any prohibited items I shouldn't bring to my dorm?

Check your dorm’s specific regulations, but common prohibited items include candles, space heaters, and certain cooking appliances. Always adhere to your dorm’s safety guidelines. Make sure to pack essential items that are allowed, such as a microwave and countertop organizers for your school essentials. Knowing what to avoid can help you pack efficiently and ensure a smooth move-in day.

Written by Spencer Spring

References

1. "17 Stylish and Space-Saving Dorm Room Ideas" on Architectural Digest - https://www.architecturaldigest.com/gallery/dorm-room-ideas

2. "10 Dorm Room Ideas for a Personalized Home-Away-from-Home" on Better Homes & Gardens - https://www.bhg.com/decorating/lessons/how-to-decorate-a-dorm-room

3. "We’re Designing Our “Dream” Dorm Rooms If We Could Go Back (+ College Dorm Survival Tips)" on Style by Emily Henderson - https://stylebyemilyhenderson.com/blog/dorm-room-ideas

4. "Try These Design Hacks in Your College Dorm (and Avoid Breaking Any Housing Rules)" on Architectural Digest - https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/design-hacks-to-try-college-dorm