Back to School: Dorm Room Tips

How College-Bound Students Can Furnish Their Dorm Room

College offers many exciting opportunities, but there is perhaps nothing quite as exciting as decorating your own dorm room for the first time. Whether you dream of a room covered in movie posters or are aiming to flex your interior design muscles, your dorm can be a reflection of your personality and your goals.

With that said, college can be a stressful time, so your dorm room should also be a place of comfort and relaxation. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all there is to buy, look no further than our handy checklist below. It’s a great starting point for you to build your dorm around.

Regardless of whether you’re heading across town or across the planet for college, Reality Changers can help you prepare.

Searching for Style

There are a few must-have items that no college student should be without. Dorm rooms should be functional first, but that doesn’t mean you can’t put your own unique spin on the usual decor. Of course, you’ll need all the essentials like stationery, office supplies, a desk, a chair and the like, but accessories are also good for making your space to study and work more personal to you. The internet is a student’s best friend, it’s where you can source all these things and more if you know where to look. Sites like are popular choices for sourcing such things that are ideal for home offices, workstations or study spaces. As you prepare, keep in mind both functionality and style. Be on the lookout for:

  • Bed linens
  • Clothes hangers
  • Laundry basket
  • Bath linens
  • Shower tote
  • Bathrobe
  • Storage boxes or crates
  • Desk lamp

This list is just the tip of the dorm room decor iceberg. There is always more to buy but be careful in selecting more than you need. Dorm rooms are notoriously small, and while it’s easy to fall in love with complete bedroom sets, you may simply not have room for it all. Start off your academic year by getting the essentials. You can always add more throughout the semester!

If you want to view more items to remember before moving in, check out College Board’s complete checklist here.

Calm Room, Calm Mind

Feng shui is the Chinese art of harmonizing one’s surroundings for maximum peace, relaxation and happiness. There’s a lot to do the summer before college, so don’t stress about becoming a feng shui master. Instead, channel a little of that energy into your dorm room. Understanding basic feng shui principles can help ensure that your room is cozy and peaceful.

Start by decluttering. While you might have thought moving out of your home meant an escape from chores, you’ll immediately see the benefit of cleaning your space. By folding clothes and putting them away, taking trash out to the dumpster, and making your bed, you’ll have a clean slate and a clear mind to study.

Next, take advantage of your room’s natural light. Open your curtains to let in some sunlight during the day. Fresh air is crucial to the success of feng shui, so on particularly mild days, consider opening up your windows, too. Bring some of the outdoors in with a houseplant or two. Not sure you have a green thumb or the ability to keep a plant alive long-term? Buy a fake plant instead! We won’t tell anyone it’s not real.

DIY Ideas

There are a ton of fun DIY projects you can spend your summer working on with friends and family to help decorate your new home.

Posters are a staple of dorm rooms around the world but selecting one that speaks to your exact style can be difficult. Have a favorite photo? Blow it up and create the poster of your dreams. There are a ton of guides online for doing so. Not sure your photo is large enough to be blown up? No problem. Distorted images, particularly vintage ones, can look especially cool on a dorm room wall. You could consider looking at some of the banksy art for sale. They’re prints, of course, but the street art and urban aesthetic is certainly a very cool one.

Note: Be sure to check the residence hall rules about how to attach your favorite images to the wall.

If posters aren’t your style, look to the thrift store for inspiration. A section of the store that is often overlooked, there are tons of cool works of pre-loved art to adapt and make your own. Even the most boring of thrift store prints can become unique and exciting with these DIY upgrades. At Rock Thrift store in Point Loma, Reality Changers students can get up to a $25 voucher to shop thanks to our recent financial rewards partnership with Sambla Norway. Whether you’re looking for new clothes or decor, Rock Thrift is a great place to start your search.

You don’t need to be especially crafty to try your hand at DIY projects. Industrial trends can make a boring dorm room look totally chic. The best part? These materials can often be found for cheap at hardware stores. Take a look at this cinder block nightstand. Not only is it convenient and useful, it’s sure to make you the envy of your hall.

Don’t Forget Lighting

Dorm rooms are often lit by the same fluorescent fixtures found in classrooms and offices. While certainly functional, these lights can be harsh on the eyes. It’s not exactly relaxing or conducive for studying. Optimize your productivity by investing in alternative lighting options. A bedside lamp can be cozy to read by at night, and a desk lamp can provide the precise amount of light necessary to keep you going late into the evening, even after your roommate has crashed.

No matter how you choose to decorate, it’s important to make your dorm room feel like the new home it is. Whether than means bringing your favorite items from your childhood bedroom or investing in new pieces, you’ll be ready to tackle anything that comes your way.

Include a plug about Alumni Network to support students’ first years in college.

Your first few weeks of college can be intimidating, but with Reality Changers on your side, you can accomplish anything you set your mind to! Our Alumni Network is eager and ready to help support anyone in need of advice or guidance during their time of need. Get inspired by the journeys of our alumni, and you may find yourself a part of the group before long!


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