College Dorm Room Essentials

As much as we all might hate to admit it, back to school season is quickly approaching, and whether it’s your first time living away from home as a freshman, or you’re a seasoned dorm pro, there’s a few things your dorm room needs. Now that I’ve spent two summers in high school and one year in college in on-campus housing, I’ve got the dorm room essentials down to a t.


Dorm room shopping major hack: a lot of stores that are amazing for picking up dorm room things such as Target, JCP {I can’t say I recommend them for everything, but they have some really awesome home basics!}, PBteen, etc. will ship to a store in the area your school is in! Example: growing up in Minnesota and going to school in New York, it obviously wasn’t really plausible for me to buy everything I needed for my dorm room here in MN and take it with me to NYC. We would’ve spent more in checked luggage than we would’ve saved by buying everything in MN! *Most* college dorms don’t allow you to ship anything to them prior to the day you move in, or they’ll send it back, so shipping to the dorm wasn’t an option. To eliminate the stress of having to buy absolutely everything in NYC AND save money with online prices, we arranged for everything to be shipped to nearby stores. My duvet base, mattress topper, and mattress pad got shipped to the Manhattan Mall JCPenney’s, my bedding was shipped to the Pottery Barn store in Chelsea {when that was a thing. I’m 99.9% sure that location moved like a month later}. We arrived to the city a day early and everything was all ready for us to pick up and bring to my dorm the next day! It saved us money and time not having to track down all those things when I got to New York! I’ve found that sometimes you can ship to store when you’re physically at a store or ordering over the phone with a store vs. on a website. If you don’t see the option on the website of the brand you’re trying to order from, be sure to call your local store and ask!



This collage is clickable! Click the product you like to shop it directly.


Bedside Rug

This is the rug I had beside my bed all of freshman year, and it was probably one of the best things I got for my dorm! Trust me, stepping onto cold dorm floor or old carpet first thing in the morning is most definitely not how to wake up on the right side of the lofted bed. A little carpet goes a long way in making a space feel friendlier and more like home. The rug I got is under $20, and can be shipped to store!


Storage Cubes and Bins

You know those storage cube shelves that come in all sorts of different dimensions like 3 x 2, 2 x 2, 4 x 1, etc.? If not, click here to see what I’m talking about. The 2 x 1 is about to become your best friend. I had one of these and it fit perfectly under my partially lofted bed. Storage cubes are an easy, inexpensive way to create more storage in your dorm room, and are also a piece of furniture that can be taken with you to an apartment when you’re ready to move out of the dorm. This is the one I bought. The structure itself was under $30 and the individual bins were just $8.99! In all honesty, I just stacked things on the shelves and used the bins I bought for it for two different purposes: 1. to throw shoes into and 2. for all random household things I needed but didn’t necessarily have a good spot for such as extra dish towels, extra Command hooks, first aid things, etc.


Command Hooks

It’s been said to death, but Command hooks and strips are a MUST for any dorm room. Here’s the breakdown of how I used Command freshman year:

Photo Strips: Used to hang frames and canvases.


Clear Hooks: Used to hang string lights on my wall. These are a complete necessity if you’re planning on hanging string lights!


Medium/Large Hooks: Okay, so I used one of these to hang my school bag, one of these to hang my keys and drape my earbuds over it, one for a hand towel {I kept my bath towel in our bathroom, but if I didn’t, I would’ve used one for that too}, one for a lightweight layer or coat, one for whatever handbag I was carrying, and one for an umbrella. Six might sound like a lot of hooks when they come in packages of two, but truth be told, they really helped me make sure that I never forgot anything when I was leaving my room!


Throw Blanket

I thought I could get away with just my duvet but wowwww was I wrong. The moment the outside temperature dropped below 75 degrees I was freezing. My recommendation is to find a throw blanket that’s heavy enough to keep you warm but light enough to use alone when a duvet is too hot. I might’ve dragged my throw blanket down to our lounge on more than one occasion to study because I was down there until 7 or 8 am at times. Sorry Mom, I promise freshman year wasn’t completely just one big all-nighter in the study lounge. It was more like 75% study lounge and 25% art studio.


Pencil Cup

Not so much a true pencil cup, but something slightly larger than a pencil cup and smaller than a bucket. This acrylic one is a perfect example of the size I’m talking about, because it’s basically identical to the one I have {mine has cute gold polka dots, but whatever}. I got mine for all of $7.99 at T.J. Maxx and I’m pretty sure that this is the #1 thing I got. The rug is a close second.


Here’s what you do with said pencil cup:

Put all of those things that you’re constantly trying to find but never can in it. All the little things you tend to lose, all the smaller products you use daily, the first things you need in the morning but don’t want to take to the shower or leave in your bathroom, you get the idea. Included in mine:


-Sewing scissors





-Hand cream {this is hands down the best, in case you were wondering}

These are all items that would have for sure been thrown all over my room or strewn on my desk if I didn’t have something like this to put them in. Of all my bins, organizers, and drawers, this was the one I reached for the most.


Floor Lamp

I’ve lived in three different dorms in three different states, and of them, only one of those dorm rooms had decent lighting installed for when it got dark.

University of Miami Coral Gables: Good natural light, good installed light.

Boston University {575 Commonwealth}: Horrible natural light, horrible installed light.

The New School {Stuyvesant Park Residence Hall}: Good natural light, awful installed light.

Bottom line: buy a lamp. Before I had one, my room was SO dark and it honestly started affecting my mood. Mom to the rescue, she ordered this lamp to be sent to my dorm, and it solved all problems {with free shipping, no less}. It’s currently on sale for $17.50, retails for $24.99, and is all sorts of worth it.  As a matter of fact, if the guys from Buzzfeed’s Worth It decided to test three different lamps at three drastically different price points, this would be the winner.

What I appreciate about this lamp is how it has three different lamp heads that move. Originally, I wasn’t quite on board with the design and to be honest, it’s still not my fave, however for the sake of functionality in a dorm room, it’s perfect. Roommate trying to sleep? Okay, one head on instead of all three, turned away from her. Need more light to see a small detail? Two heads on turned towards where you need the light. It’s SO helpful.


Mattress Topper

News flash: dorm beds are awful. I know, shocker. That’s probably the first time you’ve heard that. I have all sorts of back issues leftover from dance, so having a mattress topper was a must for me. This is where JCPenney’s really became helpful. The price for their memory foam mattress pad was at least a third of the price of buying it elsewhere. It’s the exact same quality if not better than the one I bought at Target the year prior, AND we were able to ship it to the store to pick it up.


Living in a dorm had its pros and cons, but these dorm room essentials made it so much easier!







Headed of to college soon? Know someone that is? Pin the image below to save this post for when you’re dorm shopping!

Minneapolis and NYC lifestyle and style blogger Eva of Eva Darling on college dorm essentials what to buy for university freshman year floor lamp storage box organization memory foam mattress topper plush chenille minky throw blanket clear acrylic kate spade pencil cup shag floor rug inexpensive cheap


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