Everything You and Your Roommate Need for Your Dorm Room: A Checklist

I remember exactly how I felt when I started shopping for my college dorm room: I was excited to decorate a new space, I was nervous with butterflies to start school, and I also was incredibly stressed because I didn’t know where to start. When it comes to shopping for your first dorm room or a new living space in general, it’s important to take baby steps and purchase items in waves. This creates less of a risk of creating an impulse buy. In college, you know that your space is limited, so any unnecessary purchase can feel like clutter. The best way to be efficient with your space is sharing items with your roommate and coordinating who buys what shared items. I asked a bunch students about the items that they share with their roommates so that when the time comes, you’ll know exactly what essentials you need.

  • Good lighting accessories: Because the lighting in dorms can be inconsistent and sometimes overly bright, lighting accessories can help balance the atmosphere. “Warm toned string lights that are long enough to go around the whole room help with the general vibe,” says Boston University student Lucy Stowe.
  • A chore chart: Dorms are such a small space that it’s easy for them to get a little messy, fast. Sara Goldman, a student at BU, says that a chore chart is a great option. It’s the perfect way to keep roommates accountable and organized.
  • A bulletin board: This is an easy, inexpensive, yet collaborative option to spruce up the room. “It’s a great place to put tickets and other mementos from throughout the year,” says BU student Ally Kallfelz.
  • A Brita filter: Perfect for storing in the mini fridge and having keep water on hand at all times, “A Brita filter is underrated but super helpful,” says BU student Jess Oshanan.
  • Essential oil diffusers: To keep the room smelling fresh and to make it feel more like home, Geneve Lau, a student at Bu, loves the calming benefits of her portable essential oil diffusers.
  • Multifunctional storage: Once again, the space in a dorm is pretty small, so any extra storage counts. Arianna Bouchard, a student at BU, says she loves her multifunctional ottoman because it hides “my extra sheets and towels, it’s cute, functional, and it’s added storage.”
  • A mini vacuum: It’s easy for a dusty space to make a dorm room feel like it’s in need of a deep clean. For a simple cleaning session or to quickly pick up any emergency messes, BU students Siobhan Monahagn and Jenni Rudman can’t live without their mini vacuums.
  • An electric kettle: For tea drinkers and students who are trying to keep warm, BU student Zoe Hawryluk says an electric kettle is a great way to get boiling water without a stove, especially during the times when everyone is fighting off a cold.
  • A small printer: When you don’t want to take that extra trip to the library to print any handouts, BU student Deborah Yadidi recommends getting a small printer to share with your roommate.
  • A shoe rack: Since storing shoes is probably one of the most difficult parts of organizing a college dorm room, Yadidi also recommends a shoe rack. Not only are they perfect for organizing your own shoes, they’re also beneficial to your roommate for their own personal storage while keeping the communal space even cleaner.
  • Collapsible drying racks: Sophia Barbanel, a student at BU, says, “At Bed, Bath & Beyond they sell these drying racks to put your laundry on! For things that you don’t want to put in the dryer, it’s super useful.”
  • Command strips and hooks: These are perfect to keep on hand in your dorm room for you and your roommate. Alex Jalali, a student at BU, says that she loves to use her command strips for hanging art on her wall. Hooks are perfect for coats, towels, or any additional décor—just to name a few of the countless options.
  • A mini steamer: BU student Courtney Conyers loves her mini steamer “because ironing in a dorm room is impossible.”
  • A makeup mirror: Lindsay Rosenblatt, a BU student, recommends a good makeup mirror—perfect for making your going-out makeup routine a little easier so you don’t have to lug all your products to the crowded bathroom.
  • A caddy that holds hair tools: There are many storage options for beauty products, but Rosenblatt also recommends a caddy that perfectly fits a blow dryer, a hairbrush, and any hot tools.
  • A rubber mat for hot tools: To prevent any sticky situations, Rosenblatt also recommends purchasing a rubber matt made for any hot hair tools to rest on when you use them.
  • An air mattress: Ashley Justiniano, a student at BU, says “an air mattress is great to keep around because it’s compact. My roommate and I both like to use it if we have any friends come to visit.” 

Featured photo by @valveak.

What are some of your dorm room essentials? Let us know in the comments below!