When I entered college three years ago, the thing that got me really excited about the whole college experience was the prospect of decorating my dorm room. I got this giddy feeling every time I entered a store that sold dorm room decorations, and I browsed the internet for hours looking for the perfect bedding. I love decorating, but I think one of the biggest reasons I was so excited was because I was horribly nervous about moving out of my home and into a dorm. However, the thing of it is, a dorm becomes your home. While you may only be in the room for nine months, it feels like you lived there a lot longer come May. So, I wanted to share my essentials for taking that blank, mundane dorm room, and making it your home away from home.
I believe the key to making a great home within your dorm room is finding durable, attractive, and comfortable bedding. Your bed is, more than ever, the focus of your bedroom space. The Twin XL bed becomes your sleeping area, your hanging out area, and, in some cases, your homework space. It is a bed and a couch and a desk all wrapped into one. So, the key to a great room is great bedding. There are tons of companies that sell bedding for dorm rooms. One company that catches my attention is Parachute, which is a company that rethinks the basics of bedding.
All Parachute bedding is designed in LA, and made in Italy. The quality is great (Egyptian cotton?!), and is sure to last you all four years of college. I’m known to change my bedding frequently, and I think part of the problem is I have trouble finding the perfect bedding. Usually I think it’s not as comfortable as it should be, or I get sick of the pattern. What I like about Parachute is that their bedding is designed for comfort, and they keep the colors simple and calming. The colors are neutral, which means you’ll be less likely to get sick of it within a year. Their bedding is also available in linen texture, which is one of my favorites. I feel like it’s sophisticated and light, but so comfortable and has a lived-in vibe.
One last thing I really want to highlight about Parachute before diving into my dorm essentials is their Give Back aspect. As you’ve probably realized from reading my blog, I love companies that have a give back component, which is why I buy glasses from Warby Parker and I buy shoes from Toms. Parachute is partnered with Nothing But Nets, which is an organization that couples a great night’s sleep with the prevention of Malaria. Whenever Parachute sells a Venice bed set, they donate one bed net to a person in need. Awesome, right?
Something I always pack to take to school with me is my favorite mug. Having a coffee cup is one of the biggest things about living in the dorm! I use mine for coffee, tea, and snacks. Even if you don’t drink coffee, having a coffee mug is a must. When I was a freshman, my hall had tea and cookies once a week, and I took my mug every single week. Sitting around drinking coffee with your floor mates is a great bonding time! Also, having tea or coffee while studying is great.
Microwave and Mini Fridge
Having a movie night in your room? In need of an energy drink? Well, a microwave and a mini fridge are an absolute must for living in the dorm. Even if you’re not doing major cooking (thankful for dining halls), you’ll want small snacks and drinks kept in your room. This is especially true during finals, when you won’t want to trek to a different part of campus for food or drink.
Cute Wall Art
Having blank, white walls gets really boring really fast. Be sure to bring fun posters of things you like. Oftentimes, in addition to adding color to your room, the decorations spark conversation with other floor mates as they’re walking by if your door is open while hanging out or studying. Wall art goes a long way in a dorm room, and just getting things that make you you will make you feel more at ease and at home.
Whether you’re watching a movie while your roommate is studying, or trying to study while your roommate is being loud, headphones are a game changer in college living. They’re also great to take to the library. Sometimes libraries are treated more as a social event than a studious event, so having headphones is helpful to show you’re in serious study mode. I bought a good pair of headphones last fall, and I wear them almost daily! You can also have a speaker for when you and your roommate want to have dance parties during study breaks, or just play music while hanging out.
Photos of Friends and Family
Probably the easiest way to bring home to college is putting up photos of your friends and family. My first year of college, I put up a photo collage next to my bed so I had the people who meant most to me near me at all times. Even though homesickness usually wears off fairly fast, you’ll have hard days, and it’s nice to be able to see photos of your people!
Coffee Maker (Believe Me)
Even if you don’t drink coffee, having a Keurig is awesome because you can make tea or hot chocolate, and no hot plate is necessary so the machine is not forbidden in the dorm. Coffee machines are a must. Almost everyone I know has a Keurig in their room, even if they don’t use it everyday. Something about a warm beverage make you feel at home!
Command strips are a must because you’re not allowed to nail things into the wall, and the awesome strips help you decorate your space without making marks on your wall. Command strips are great because they allow you to really customize your space. When you think about how many people came before you in the room, and how many different looks your room’s had, it’s really kind of cool. The space can be so versatile and customized depending on who lives there. Make the room yours!
Don’t allow your room to be covered in clothing. Keep your dirty clothes out of the way, and leave more room for activities (name that movie?). Laundry bins are life savers because they allow you to keep clutter out of the way. Dorm rooms are tiny to begin with, so make sure you’re keeping dirty clothes off the floor.
A headboard can change the entire appearance of a dorm room. For some reason, a headboard makes a space feel more home-y. My brother-in-law-to-be made me a headboard for my room this year, and I’m so excited to have it, finally! I wanted to have one last year, but never got around to buying one or making one.
Fun Throw Pillows
Throw pillows may seem frivolous, but having a few extra pillows make your bed feel more comfy, and offer good support for when your bed is acting as a couch on hangout night. Pillows can add personality, function, and comfort. Parachute has super comfortable pillow shams, so I would recommend picking one of those up to add to your pillow display.
Having a good throw blanket is a must. Whether you’re heading to the football or rugby game, cuddling up with Netflix, or spending too many hours in the library, you need a good blanket. A super soft and durable throw is something that you will be packing every single year for all four years. Parachute has neutral throws that I think are versatile, and will work well with the bedding you choose, and will endure. The stripe throw is pictured above, and I’m obsessed!
Parachute Duvet Cover
I always choose duvet covers for my bedding because their typically my favorite style of bedding. However, I always get annoyed because my filler ends up bunched into one side of the cover. The Parachute design, which has ties in all four corners, prevents this annoyance, and keeps your duvet looking plush and perfect all year.
Fun & Funky Desk Lamp
Whether by your bed or on your desk, you need to have an amazing lamp in your room. The fluorescent lights in dorm rooms can be harsh and annoying, so having a great lamp will add softer light, and gives you the option of having less light in the evenings. Lamp light more closely resembles lights in a home, so getting away from fluorescent light at times will resemble a more home-style atmosphere.
Bedside or Desk-side Storage
Organization of your room is a major component in making your space feel like a cozy environment. I typically use under bed or bedside storage to keep clutter and personal items. Storage is something I always incorporate into my dorm room, and it’s something important to consider. I usually mirror my organization style in my house to my organization in my dorm room, which also helps me feel close to home even when I’m not!
What are your dorm room essentials?