30 Dorm Room Ideas for First-Time Dorm Dwellers
Moving into a dorm room for the first time? Check out these dorm room ideas for what to buy, how to organize, what styles and décor to choose, and more!
What’s Wrong with this Picture?
Every new co-ed needs a shower caddy for their shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, etc. It needs to be waterproof and have drain holes of some sort. So this guy has that covered, but he’s missing shower shoes (inexpensive flip-flops work great). You don’t want to walk around barefoot in a dorm bathroom. Second, the red towel. When he washes this towel, everything else in the load will turn pink. Choose an unusual color or pattern for towels so it’s easy to tell which ones are yours, but stay away from really dark, vibrant colors which will bleed.
Not Sure About Style? Pick One Color
Don’t stress out over the infinite number of dorm style guides – we’ll make it really easy for you. Pick one bright color – a blue, green, yellow or other common shade. That’s it. Coordinate your bedding and décor so that it includes or complements that color, and you’re done. This makes it easier to match whatever your roommate chooses, and easier to maintain your style when you inevitably move around to different living spaces in the coming years.
Photo: Kanashkin Evgeniy/Shutterstock
Choose a Silent Fan/Heater
Cold dorms need heaters and hot dorms need fans. Because noise can be an issue, it’s important to find a silent version. While a little pricey, we suggest this quiet Dyson hybrid model that can both heat and cool down a dorm room as needed. However, before purchasing be sure to check out your dorms specific regulations when it comes to space heaters.
For Rugs, Go with Traditional Weave
Dorm rugs are still trending toward faux fur and shag, but we advise against these styles: They are very difficult to clean and easy to damage without constant care. Instead, go for a traditional weave or braid: These rugs are designed to be durable and can match most other dorm patterns.
Plus: How to Clean Area Rugs
Put Your Walls to Work
Wall decorations, especially colored tapestries, are very common in dorms and make a good choice for decoration. But save a spot to put up a bulletin board where you can tack important papers, reminders, messages and more. Bulletin board squares are fun to space out along your wall, but a whiteboard hybrid may prove more useful over time.
Go Modular with Both Shelves and Storage Cubes
Choose dorm room storage ideas that are easy to stack and re-organize as needed. Wire cubes or the IKEA Kallax system are a particularly popular option because they can be stacked in any shape based on the design of the dorm room, and used for anything from dress shoes to sports equipment. They are relatively easy to decorate or hide behind a curtain if necessary.
Got Photos? Make a Picture Garland
While the collage is timeless, the new dorm trend is a picture garland, which is essentially an artful swoop of string that allows you to attach rows of photos with something as simple as a clothespin. This makes it easy to switch out photos as new life events come along.
Choose a Long-Reach Floor Lamp
Always Save Some Wall Space
Don’t fill up all of your walls with shelves, picture boards and posters as soon as you move in. You will come across art, photos, school-pride items from the bookstore that you’ll want to hang up, so save some room for them.
Forget Chargers, Use a Charging Mat
Chargers are annoying: Instead, use a charging mat that lets you just put down your mobile device to immediately start charging it wirelessly. Most Qi-enabled mobile devices have chargers that can do this, so set one up by your bed or desk.
Replace Floor Pillows with Poufs
Recruit Hanging Pouches Everywhere
Hanging pouches are useful almost anywhere in your dorm room. Put a hanging pouch on your bed for convenient storage of tissues, books, earbuds and more. Attach hanging pouches to your door for clothing or show storage. Use one in the bathroom for hygiene products. So versatile!
Bored with Overhead Lighting? Try Copper LEDs
Organize with Drawer Dividers
Drawers aren’t always easy to keep organized, especially after a few early morning classes. To help out, make these simple dividers and dorm room storage ideas to help sort smaller articles of clothing. Other drawer dividers are a great way to sort supplies, cosmetics, and other small items that tend to rattle around.
Plus: How to Line Drawers
Use Mirrors for Two Purposes
A mirror is important so you can always do a quick check for bedhead before you face the world. And, a mirror reflects light which creates a more spacious feel in your (tiny) dorm room. Full length body mirrors that hang on the back of any door are also a great option.
Lift Up Your Bed – a Little or a Lot
If your dorm’s management allows you to lift the bed, then do it! Simple bed lifts can prop the bed up by a couple inches and give you enough room to scoot bins underneath. Some people prefer to convert to a full loft bed for even more space.
Photo: Ksenia Palimski/Shutterstock
If You Need a Fridge, Make it Do Double Duty
Get at Least One Plant
Plants aren’t just about adding some green growth to the dorm – although that’s a plus! Leafy plants also help to keep the air fresh. If you don’t think you’ll remember to care for a plant, choose a cactus or other succulent that only requires occasional watering.
Put Up a Mail Organizer
Have a Bottle of All-Purpose Cleaning Spray Handy
It’s very easy to whip up a spray bottle of lemon cleaner with a little citrus oil or citrus peels and a dash of vinegar. Keep the spray handy and you’ll find that you can use it for just about everything (don’t try to drink it, though).
Above Door Shelf
The space above a doorway is an overlooked storage bonanza! It’s the perfect spot for towels, blankets or a small suitcase. Consider adding a shelf or cubby over the doorway, as long as it’s okay with your dorm’s management.
Plus: Build a Shoe Organizer
To get the most out of your closet space, use a lightweight piece of chain to stagger hanging clothes. Just loop the first link of the chain over the first hanger, and hang subsequent hangers on every other link after. Hang up to six shirts for the rod space of one.
Don’t forget the door when counting your closet space! Try an over-the-door shoe organizer on the back side of a closet door to organize scarves, belts and other accessories. Or of course, shoes too! Would you rather have your shoes out where you can see them? Then consider making this modern shoe rack.
Clothing Storage Solutions: Maximize Drawer Space
Add-On Clothes Rod
Here’s an easy way to add space for hanging clothes (or at least clothes that don’t require a tall space). Hang a second clothes rod from the upper rod with lightweight chain. Attach the chain to screw eyes directly or use S-hooks or carabiners. Carabiners make adjusting the height of the extra rod a snap.
Closet Glove and Hat Rack
If you go to school in a cold climate, finding a good spot to dry wet hats and mittens in a dorm room can be tough. Tossing them into a plastic bin gets them out of the way, but they never dry and it’s no fun putting on damp mittens. This simple back-of-the-door glove and cap rack allows wet things to dry and keeps easily misplaced items organized.
Where do you store your belts? How about on this inexpensive and easy-to-make belt holder? All you need is a wooden hanger and some cup hooks. If some of your belts have unusually thick buckles, just widen the cup hook slightly with needle-nose pliers. This is a great way to hang small handbags, too.
Reuse and Recycle Food Tins
Before you throw out empty tea, coffee and cookie tins, give them a quick rinse. Reuse them to uniquely store office supplies, photos and junk drawer items. The square shape is harder to tip than a round pencil cup.
Coffee Storage Cart
A storage cart like this one from IKEA or this one from Target are a perfectly versatile way to organize your coffee supplies. This storage solution will make your early morning routines a breeze. You can also store a wide variety of other dorm supplies on this cart, like your toiletries, laundry detergent or any type of kitchen supplies.
Versatile Storage Ottoman
A storage ottoman is an incredibly versatile way to create extra storage in any dorm room. A dorm ottoman can be used as a footrest, extra seating and as a place to store anything from clothes to snacks to keep you motivated for all of your late-night study sessions. A storage ottoman like this one from kohl’s will get the job done right.