Outfitting a dorm can be a pricey proposition. In 2013, college students spent an average of $836 on their living spaces. The shopping list from Bed Bath and Beyond includes at least 100 “college necessities on its checklist.
What’s really essential for dorm rooms? Take a cue from dorm living through the decades—extra seating, comfy bedding, good lighting and personal décor figure through the years. A dorm room has always been a place to study, chill, eat, and live college life. Electronics like tablets and computers may or may not be included in your costs—that’s certainly changed.
Save money and move in/out stress by living simply—this will only be home for 9 months. Buy only the absolute necessities, and live in your dorm for a while to determine what else you really need. Then you can plan to purchase those items on sale, used, or for cheaper online. Less is more!
Dorm Smart’s checklist gives some helpful guidelines. IKEA is an affordable place to outfit your dorm at.
7 dorm essentials
1. Hot pot/Electric Kettle
It boils water–but an electric kettle’s simplicity belies its usefulness. Have hot water at the ready for tea, instant coffee, oatmeal, canned soup, or for dorm cooking…get creative!
Bonus: Eating in your room can save you money. Have a set of dishware and silverware (enough for 1-2) and some healthy snacks and food that don’t require refrigeration for the times you can’t make it to the meal hall.
Hamilton Beach Electric Kettle at Amazon
2. Small Table
A small side table, folding table or nightstand provides an extra surface to set things on, like food, books or a lap-top–and keeps clutter off your desk.
The classic $7.99 LACK table from IKEA
3. Extra Seating
Dorm rooms come equipped with a simple desk chair, but one extra piece of seating, like a butterfly or folding chair gives friends and visitors a place to rest and can be re-used into a first apartment–unlike a beanbag!
TERJE folding chair, $19.99
4. Extra lighting
Most dorm rooms come with harsh fluorescent lighting. Don’t stop at clamp light or desk lamp options. A small lamp provides essential task lighting and a cozy glow, along with style.
VARBY LED table lamp, $12.99 and TERTIAL work lamp, $8.99
5. Floor Cloth or Rug
The tile floor in many dorms doesn’t makes for a cold atmosphere, and cold on the feet, too. Warm up your dorm with a rug or floor cloth. Hardware stores sell large carpet remnants, find a gently used rug, or make your own floor cloth for some visual punch.
ULLGUMP rug at IKEA, $19.99
6. Box/Window Fan
Consider it essential if your dorm lacks air conditioning. Fans makes stuffy rooms bearable.
Lasko 20 in 3-speed fan at Home Depot
7. A Touch of Home
Decor is what makes a dorm feel personal. Plants, wall art, unique small decor items, and framed art are all classic. Don’t forget the 3M command strips, or poster putty to hang any art and protect the walls!
50 cheap Dorm decor ideas from Apartment Therapy
Laken’s Boho dorm
There’s probably more that can be nice to have in your dorm, but these are the time-tested basics. Before you hit the stores, try shopping:
- Your home
- Resale/Consignment stores
- Estate/Moving sales
- Garage sales
- Freecycle/the “Free” section at Craigslist
- Your school’s recycling department–some colleges/universities accept donations of students’ unwanted dorm goods. Call and ask first.
Need more inspiration? Vintage Dorm style at Modcloth shows making a dorm cozy is nothing new.