Dorm Room Essentials

Dorm Room Essentials

By Leah Benoit. CREATED Aug 17, 2012

Not sure what to bring to your new college dorm? Pick up some of these dorm room essentials to create the perfect home away from home. Stores like Target and Meijer have entire sections dedicated to Back -To-College supplies this time of year, many with special promotions - like free shipping on dorm items purchased online - in the summer months.




Most dorm rooms have long twin sized beds. If you have a full or queen sized bed at home, your sheets and comforter might be a tad too big for your space. 


Stores like Meijer, Target, and WalMart offer bedding for dorm sized beds in fun patterns and colors with prices that won't break the bank.



Botanica Complete Bed in a Bag, Black and White Floral Print

$34.88 online



Room Essentials Rugby Stripe Comforter Set - Blue

$39.99 - $44.99


Essential Home 4 Piece Comforter set Twin XL- Brianna





You'd be amazed what a difference a carpet or rug can make in a dorm room. Covering up dirty wooden or tiled floors can really make a room feel warm and welcome.


Stores like Meijer offer dorm-sized rugs that are inexpensive (you won't feel guilty about tossing it at the end of the year if you have to). 


Many carpet stores sell cheap carpet remnants that you can purchase. Know the dimensions of your room so they can cut it to the size you need.  Just split the cost with your roommate and you'd be amazed how little it costs - depending on where you go it could be as little as $20 per person.


*Note: Before purchasing carpet, check and see if your school allows carpeting. Also know that you will likely have to install and remove it yourself. 


Futons and small furniture 


Most dorms come with basic furniture - beds, desks, and maybe a chair or two. Make your room more comfortable with furniture of your own. A futon is the most popular dorm room accessory - it is sized to fit in a small room, is inexpensive, and folds out into a bed if you need it to. If you have the space, a smaller chair gives you  and your guests more space to sit.



Room Essentials Black Storage Futon

$159.99 online


Oversize Oval Chair, Multiple Colors

$99.00 online 




Mainstays Silver Metal Arm Futon, Black Mattress





When you're living in a small space, storage space is essential. Check out these inexpensive space savers to keep your new room organized and stylish.


Plastic or fabric storage bins


These bins can be purchased individually or in bulk. Most stores offer them in a variety of colors and sizes. Most plastic bins are styled to be stacked, and some fabric bins offer separate containers that allowed to be stacked as well. 



Sterilite 3-Drawer Wide Cart, Black

$18.97 online


Itso Polka Dot Tapered Fabric Bin

$5.99 online price


IKEA Skubb Storage Box, Set of 6, White




Closet organizer 


These are storage compartments perfect for holding shoes, extra clothing, or accessories. They are made of fabric and are easy to collapse and store for when you move back home or don't find you need them. Most are designed to hang on the back of a door or on a closet rack. 



Whitmor Hanging Accessory Shelves, Blue

$13.97 online price


SFT-01256 Over The Door Clear Shoe Organizer/Storage Rack, Natural

$19.49 online

Bed Bath & Beyond

Gearbox 10-Shelf Shoe Organizer

$14.99 each, various colors



Lock box 


Does the idea of sharing access to all of your things with someone new make you nervous? You're not alone. A lock box is worth investing in if you have items that you don't feel comfortable leaving in your room when you aren't there - a laptop, wallet, or other valuable items for instance. Stores like IKEA sell small mini-lockers that will give you some piece of mind without taking up space. 



IKEA PS Cabinet On Casters, White





Smaller things you'll need

No-damage wall adhesives 


Stock up on these! No-damage wall adhesives allow you to hang things like mirrors on walls that can be easily removed with no damage. Popular brands like Command Strips also have no-damage hooks to hang your towels, coats, and whatever else you need. These are inexpensive and can be purchased at nearly any store. Look for them in home improvement or picture frame aisles. 


Shower caddy 


A shower caddy is a small plastic carrying case for all of your bathroom essentials. They are also made to be hung on a shower head and stored in the shower. These are incredibly useful for keeping your items separate from your roommates if you are sharing a bathroom (suite-style bathrooms) or if you have to carry all of your stuff to a community bathroom. 


Plastic shower caddies are $10 and can be found anywhere that sells bathroom supplies. In-shower caddies are a bit pricier, as they're usually made of steel or a non-rusting metal of sorts. 



Mainstays Shower Caddy



Cero Spa Chrome Shower Caddy



Clothing hangers


You'll likely be sharing a closet and dresser, so if you're used to storing all of your clothes in one or the other figure out a method to separate them into either a closet or dresser. You'll need lots of hangers!


Desk lamps 


Small desk lamps are cheap and can be found almost anywhere - grab one! You never know if you'll need it for late-night study sessions. 



Desk Lamp - Lollipop Red



KROBY Floor Uplight, Nickel Plated, Glass



Home Bike Gooseneck Desk Task Lamp




Cleaning supplies 


Dorm rooms get dirty, simple as that. Stock up!


Other tips


Communicate with your roommate! Discuss who will bring what before you move in so you don't end up with multiple items (and no space). It will also prevent you from purchasing things you don't need - why buy a futon if your roommate already has one?


Find out if your dorm has furniture that can be lofted. Lofting your beds can save a tremendous amount of space. Some dorms come with lofted beds while others come bunked. Some universities allow you to build your own lofts. Find out!


Know how your cable and internet works! Some universities offer cable to students living on-campus, so all you'll have to bring is a television and a cable cord. Will your room have wireless? If not, you'll want to invest in an a router or an Ethernet cord.


Not sure where to start? 


Here's our list of stores that offer the best deals on college dorm essentials. Preview their products and prices online before you shop!

  • Meijer
  • Target
  • Macy's
  • JCPenney
  • K-Mart
  • Walmart
  • IKEA