You may have selected your classes and figured out whether or not to rush, but if you’re headed to college for your freshman year, there are still plenty of tough decisions to be made. Such as: What kind of bedspread should you buy? And how will you fit your massive wardrobe (you need options, okay?) in the tiny closet and dresser that your school somehow deemed suitable for one person’s belongings?
No need to panic. With a few smart purchases, it’s easy to create a space where you can comfortably study, hang with friends, and get enough rest so you definitely don’t oversleep and miss your 8 a.m. final. Even if you’re working with a palette of sad white walls and outdated walnut furniture, the right duvet, lighting, and organizational tools will go a long way in helping you ace your dorm room design.
Whether you have a roommate or not, chances are, you’re not going to want to study into the wee hours of the morning without your harsh overhead light turned on. A small, stylish desk lamp is a must.
You don’t need a massive desk organizer. You don’t even need a binder for every single class. A simple tray, file holder, and pencil cup will keep the surface tidy so you can stay focused on your flash cards.
On a college-distributed twin XL mattress, a twin or twin XL-size comforter is just fine. While it may be tempting to settle for a solid color, we suggest going bold with pattern—it will make a small room feel way more fun.
If your school offers twin XL mattresses, you are going to need twin XL sheets—plain and simple. Pro tip: Buy two sets so that you can always sleep somewhere clean, even when you keep procrastinating about your laundry. And don’t forget a cushy mattress topper for underneath!
Hardwood floors aren’t a guarantee in dorms—in fact, they’re a rarity. Cover up cold tile or sad linoleum with an area rug that also brightens your space. If you’re prone to spilling things (be honest with yourself, now), stick with a dark color scheme.
Over the door, under the bed, and even in your drawers: There are plenty of spaces you can maximize for extra storage, as long as you have a few handy tools. Try the KonMari folding method if you want to keep things really tidy.
You’ll need a place to corral your skin-, hair-, and body-care products, especially when you’re sharing a shower with the rest of the floor. And please, for your own sake: Buy a pair of shower shoes.
Printed photos of family and friends will help combat inevitable waves of homesickness, but add some 3-D art to really pull the place together. Framing your favorite works is always worth it—and you can use Command Strips to keep them in place, no hammer necessary.
Fridges and Fans
Keep your cool with a mini fridge for your leftover Chinese food–turned–midnight snack and a fan that will make spending the end of summer in a dorm without AC a little more tolerable.