Leaving the nest and heading to college is a monumental thing, even more so when you come from a Latinx family. It can also be very overwhelming, especially when it comes to moving into a dorm. You are moving your entire life from the comfort of your home to a completely new and typically much smaller place. A space that you will also most likely have to share with another person. Naturally, you’ll want to be as prepared and organized as possible, to cut down on as much stress as you can.
We want to help make your transition to college go as smoothly as possible, so we’re sharing a bunch of helpful dorm decorating tips, as well as where you’ll want to shop for the coolest items and where you’ll find the best deals.
Where to Shop: IKEA
IKEA is known for having sleek, functional furniture, classic bedding, and decor — all at a good price. As a result, it’s become a popular, must-shop store for college students. They even have a Back to College section on their site and a link to TaskRabbit, should you want someone else to put together that bookshelf for you.
Item You’ll Want: FINNBY Bookcase, $29.99
Decorating Tip: Discuss Decor with Your Roommate
You may have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to your perfect dorm room, but remember that you’ll most likely be sharing your space with someone else. Have a talk with them to make sure you are both on the same page with the layout of the space, decorating and organizing common areas, and decor should you want to have a cohesive theme. Ideally, you should shop together and split the cost.
Where to Shop: DormCo
With a name like DormCo, you know this store has everything you are going to need for your dorm. This includes Twin XL comforters, shelving, headboards, decor, and hampers. You can even get various storage packs with everything you’ll need to contain all your stuff.
Item You’ll Want: 11PC Complete Dorm Organization Set – TUSK® Storage – Gray, $58.88
Decorating Tip: Cover the Basics
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When shopping for your dorm, you’ll want to be prepared with a comprehensive checklist. Your school may have a list you can grab, but ones like this are readily available online. Don’t worry if you can’t get everything in one swoop. Just start with the most essential items and separate the rest into feasible (and less stressful) mini shopping trips.
Where to Shop: Target
You already know Target is the place to shop for everything. We’re talking storage, snacks, furniture, bedding – you name it. You can check out their college prep section on Target.com for all things you’ll want for dorm life, including bedding starting at just $8.50.
Item You’ll Want: Jeco Inc. Faux Fur Accent Chair in Pink, $192.47
Decorating Tip: Have a Theme
If you want your dorm area to look cohesive, flawless, and chic, it’s best to have a theme. This can be a design theme, like a ’70s/boho/wicker/plant mood or you can focus on a small number of colors or patterns that will help you reign in your ideas and keep it streamlined. Check out Pinterest and Instagram for some great inspiration.
Where to Shop: Bed Bath & Beyond
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Bed Bath & Beyond is another great place for college shopping. They have school-specific lists there to help you stay organized and get what you need. You can also shop online by the style you’ve chosen for your space, which is a time-saver in and of itself.
Item You’ll Want: Over-The-Door Mesh Pocket Storage Organizer, $19.99
Decorating Tip: Not Everything Has to Be Immediately Perfect
Although you will feel pressure to have an Instagram-worthy, perfect dorm room, it doesn’t always happen all at once. It’s just like decorating a house – you get the necessities, add some cool decor, and accumulate all the extra cool and special pieces here and there as time goes on.
Where to Shop: Urban Outfitters
Although it may be pricier than other stores where you can get college dorm decor, Urban Outfitters’ stuff is just so fabulous and on-trend, you can’t help but want to shop there (plus, they also have several inexpensive options). A good tip is to get all the neutral basics inexpensively at places like IKEA and Walmart, and then get those unique and cool pieces at the more splurge-worthy stores.
Item You’ll Want: Acrylic Desktop Organizer Wireless Charging Hub, $60
Decorating Tip: Make Your Space Your Haven
It’s great that these days, dorms look more like well-decorated, homey spaces and less like sterile, generic boxes. The idea isn’t just to have a cute dorm room or apartment. It’s to have a haven, a place that speaks to you and makes you feel safe, cozy, and secure. One that truly lets the world know who you — and your roomie— are. Decorate accordingly.
Where to Shop: Wayfair
Wayfair is a great website where you can choose from over 14 million items for the home. Which means there’s a very good chance you’ll find several things you need – furniture, rugs, lighting, bed, and bath, and more – at a price point you’ll be happy with.
Item You’ll Want: Altus 3 Drawer Dresser, $91.99
Decorating Tip: It’s All About Organization
If you want to maximize the little space you have in a dorm room, you are going to have to get organized. Wasted space is a luxury here, so you have to find ways to make all your clothes, shoes, accessories, jewelry, papers, electronics, and books fit into your space without always being in your face. This is where smart organizers and learning simple hacks like how to fold your T-shirts to save more space can come in handy. Check out YouTube for some great life hacks and tutorials!
Where to Shop: Dormify
“Dorm shopping made easy” is a tagline over at Dormify and we are all here for that. Moving and starting over at a new school, is stressful enough as it is, so to have a website that has all your dorm needs in one place is golden. Added bonus? When you visit the site and sign up for email newsletters, you get 15% off your purchase and you get free shipping for orders over $75.
Item You’ll Want: Charging Task Lamp, $24
Decorating Tip: No Fire Hazards Allowed
Obviously, if you are living in a dorm (or anywhere), you want to be safe, and protect the safety of those living around you. This means not leaving candles on and unattended, leaving hot hair or kitchen appliances plugged in when not in use, and avoiding other fire hazards. Dorms have been known to not allow most appliances, non-flame-resistant curtains, extension cords, candles, incense, certain lights, and more, for this reason, so make sure to check with your school before you do your back to school shopping.
Where to Shop: TJMaxx
TJMaxx isn’t just great for getting stylish clothing, shoes, and accessories on the cheap. There is also furniture, bedding, lamps, cool artwork, pillows, kitchen items, and more. Plus, you can also get some of your school supplies shopping done there too because TJMaxx always stocks nice notebooks, pens and pencils, and other stationery-type items.
Item You’ll Want: KENSIE 6pc Quick Drying Towel Set, $24.99
Decorating Tip: Don’t Make Holes in the Walls
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New gallery wall alert! I've had such a lovely afternoon moving things around my office and making things look a little cuter! For me, a little art on the walls is always the finishing touch, but I get super nervous poking holes into the plaster because it feels SO final! Like if I want to move something 1 inch to the left, I can't unless I want to fill the hole, sand it down and repaint that section of the wall. Nightmare!!! Instead, I've started using these 3M @commandbrand strips which are strong enough to take the weight of even hefty frames, but gentle enough so that they can be removed from the wall without damaging the paint or plaster. Perfect for anyone, like me, who hates putting nails in their newly plastered walls or if you rent a flat and the contract states 'no blu-tack or nails on the wall' (we've all been there!), these are the perfect solution and they are super quick and easy to use. PLUS if you DO want to move your palm prints ‘up a bit’ or ‘left a bit’… you can (you might just need to use a couple more strips)! It's so much fun to create a beautiful living space you feel really proud of and no fresh plaster or strict landlord should be able to stop us! Am I right?! AD @3m #3mcommandstrips #3mcommand #donodamage #donodamageuk
Many dorms won’t allow you to put a bunch of holes in the walls (or any), and you might want to move things around as the semester goes on. A perfect solution is to use those 3M Command strips, hooks, and other, similar items. You can hang up what you want and move it around whenever — without leaving several holes.
Where to Shop: PBTeen
Pottery Barn Teen has an entire dorm section on their website, where you can nab dorm bundles, all-in-one bedding, storage solutions, bins and baskets, wall decor, and more. Added bonus? Everything is nice enough to keep long after you’ve graduated. You can totally use them for when you decorate your post-college apartment.
Item You’ll Want: Lilly Pulitzer Tassel Tapestry, $39
Decorating Tip: Use Bed Risers/Lifts
An easy tip for creating extra storage space is to add 3, 5, or 8-inch risers/lifts to the bottom of your bedposts. This will give you some room under your bed to add containers that you can use to throw in clothes, shoes, books, or anything else extra you have lying around your dorm. Added bonus? Some even have outlets and USB ports in them – so you don’t have to be reaching for that iPhone cable.
Where to Shop: Hobby Lobby
If you have a theme, Hobby Lobby has practically everything you need to decorate within that theme. As well as, craft supplies to make your own decor. They also always have 40% off coupons for one regular priced item, which you can use for all your finds if you separate your purchases. You know what else? You can save up to 80% off of clearance right now online.
Item You’ll Want: Palm Leaves Pillow, $14.99
Decorating Tip: Make Your Storage Do Double Duty
In a dorm your space is limited, so you don’t want to cramp it with too many pieces of furniture or overload it with storage solutions. That’s why you should look for items that do double duty, like this basket that doubles as a cute nightstand or side table. Like we said, wasted space is not an option.
Decorating Tip: Use Your Vertical Space
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The right furniture can make a big impact in a room… in this case it’s a large dresser paired with a tall #kallax bookcase… both from @ikeausa. In small spaces, especially in #nyc apartments, making use of every inch means going vertical. Swipe ➡️ to see the before image. Comment below… what would you do differently if you had 4 or 6 more drawers?
Another great decorating tip for dorms is to use your vertical space. Your overall space is limited and once you have all the furniture you are going to need and use, you’ll find that there is a lot of wall space you can utilize. Just don’t go overboard! This is where things like shelves, hanging organizers, and other smart storage containers will come in handy. You don’t need to hang those posters — use the space wisely.
Where to Shop: Walmart
Walmart has tons of great deals, all the time, and they’ve organized their site to make your back-to-school shopping easier. They have hubs for school supplies and Walmart has free next day delivery for eligible orders of $35 or more.
Item You’ll Want: Better Homes and Gardens Greer Loft Storage Bed with Spacious Storage Shelves, Multiple Finishes, $189
Decorating Tip: Create a Dorm Kitchen Area
Your dorm may be teeny tiny, but it’s still best to treat it as an apartment. Everything should have its place, including your kitchen items. Create a kitchen space where you know you’ll have all your food, your mini-fridge, your eating utensils, and other necessary cocina things.
Where to Shop: Etsy
You don’t want everything in your dorm to be what everyone else has. Sure, the basics are no big deal, but you want to add some items that are unique, cool, and take your decor to another level — style-wise. This is where Etsy comes in. There are so many cool handmade and vintage products that you can nab at virtually any price point. And you’ll be supporting a local artist while you’re at it.
Item You’ll Want: BeachBlues Copper Pink Grey Office Storage Mason Jars (4 jars), $37