Back to School: Tips for Living in a Dorm Room!

I don’t know why I never posted these last year, but it’s better late than never, right? Now I’m not going to live in a dorm this year (I got an apartment with one of my friends and two other girls), so this post is just to show new freshman how some dorms are set up and to give some helpful tips. (EDIT: This post ended up being super long; sorry about that! I ended up having a lot more tips than I thought I did haha.)

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This is my desk area (The bulletin board above my desk was completely filled by the end of the year. I filled it with tickets, letters, flowers, and other memories from my first year of college), where I spent most of my time in my room. I must say, I pretty much lived in my friends’ rooms, so I wasn’t in my room too often (pretty much only to sleep). Some tips for the desk area:

1) Your bulletin board will look a lot better with pictures. Trust me.
2) The side wall of your desk might just be magnetic. It took me weeks to figure that out. haha
3) Get drawer organizers…mine were horrible. I wish I’d done this at the beginning of the year because I felt like I could never find anything.
4) Figure out the best way to organize your school books before you organize your drawers. At first I kept mine lined up against the back, but they were always falling over. I ended up cleaning out one of the drawers and keeping them in there.
5) Get a desk lamp. The overhead light on the desk is super bright, so whenever Lucy (my roommate) went to bed, I would switch over to the dimmer desk lamp.
6) Hang up a calendar somewhere. It’s much easier to glance up and see your schedule in front of you than to have to lug out your agenda every time you need to know a date.
7) The compartments above the desk are fantastic for storage. I kept everything that I didn’t need that often up there.
8) Get a hook for the wall in between your desk and your closet (if you have this set up). I didn’t think about this before moving in, but luckily Lucy did. The hook was perfect for hanging my robe and towel.

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Lucy and I decided to loft our beds, which ended up being a great decision. We kept the futon under mind, and the kitchen area (see below) was under hers. I hated climbing into bed, but it gave us a lot more space. I kept my hats and purses hung up on one of the posts, and I kept my scarves hung under the foot of my bed (the left side). Here are some tips for this area:

1) String Christmas lights through the underside of your bed. This was a great way for us to have light without the blinding overhead lights. I often used these when I needed to study after Lucy had gone to bed (so basically every night).
2) Loft your beds. Seriously. It gives you SO much more space.
3) Find a cute way to decorate over your futon. We never fully figured this out (that poster ended up falling down), and I really wish we’d had something there.
4) The area under the futon is great for storage. I kept my shoe rack there to give me more space in my closet.
5) Get a safe. I kept all of my jewelry and other important items in a safe that locked to my bed post.
6) Get a bedside buddy. Mine’s not in this picture, but this little piece of fabric was a lifesaver. I hung it on the guardrail of my bed, and I would keep my phone, my retainer, lotion, pens/pencils for homework, and my journal in it for easy access.

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This little cube was how I stored a lot of my things. I put pictures of my friends and I on the top, and I ended up putting other memorabilia there throughout the year (such as seashells from spring break). Here are some storage tips:

1) The little bins were a great way to store things that I didn’t want everyone to see (bras, underwear, socks, etc.).
2) I recommend paper plates and plastic silverware for a dorm. I had washable dishes and silverware, and although they saved money, they were a pain to wash in my room.
3) I used some of the other cubes to store cups, dishes, extra food, tea, books, perfume, and nail polish. The organization of it wasn’t great, but it really helped me save space.

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I hated this closet with a passion. During the warmer months it was okay, but it was so difficult to fit all my thicker, winter clothes in there. I ended up rearranging my whole closet several times, but I was never entirely happy with it. In this picture, it’s organized by sleeve-length, and by color within each length. By the end of the year, I had arranged it by color, then by sleeve-length within each color. Here are some closet tips:

1) Everyone says felt hangers save space, but I really don’t t think they do. I found that the only plus side to mine was keeping silky shirts from falling off the hanger.
2) Plastic drawers are awesome. I kept my t-shirts, pajamas, and jeans in my drawers.
3) Don’t bring many t-shirts to college. I brought far too many. You get free ones all the times, and you end up running out of space quickly.
4) Bring half as many clothes as you think you need. I had planned on brining so much more than this, and I’m glad I didn’t because I just didn’t have space for it all.
5) Get an extra bar to hang clothes on. I kept all my sweatshirts and some of my jackets on the second rack, and it saved me a lot of space.
6) BRING A RAIN JACKET. I completely forgot about this when I was packing for school, and I got drenched the first time it rained.
7) I kept a bin in the back of my closet for belts, shoes, and other items that I knew I wouldn’t reach for frequently, but still wanted accessible.
8) I got a hanging jewelry holder to put in my closet. It saved a lot of space, and my jewelry was always easy to get to.

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I didn’t realize how convenient having a sink in our room would be. Some of my friends didn’t have sinks, and it was a pain to have to walk all the way down the hall every time we wanted to wash our hands or brush our teeth. Some tips for the sink area:

1) Once again, plastic drawers are awesome. I had one drawer for my hair stuff, one for my face and body products, and one for our hair tools. The set of drawers on the right were for Lucy’s things and other random objects that had no home.
2) Bring dish washing stuff. Washing dishes with hand soap and paper towels is not fun, and I don’t recommend it.
3) Get a shower caddy. It makes it so much easier to go take a shower when you have all your stuff in one place.
4) SHOWER SHOES. Community bathrooms are not the cleanest place on earth. Please don’t ever go barefoot.
5) That being said, community bathrooms aren’t as bad as everyone says. I wouldn’t ever choose to have one, but it wasn’t horrible.
6) Get a full-length mirror for the back of your door. I used mine seriously everyday. Not only was it great for checking outfits, but it makes getting ready a lot easier when you and your roommate need to get ready at the same time.

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Finally, we come to the kitchen area. Here are my tips:

1) I honestly don’t know how people live without fridges and microwaves. We used ours all the time, and I highly recommend getting one.
2) The hot water heater also came in handy during the wintertime when we wanted tea or hot chocolate.
3) We got yet another set of plastic drawers for our snacks, garbage bags, and plastic bags.
4) Water filters are great for when you want fresh water, but you don’t want to walk to a different floor to get that water.
5) We used the white board on the fridge to leave each other notes if we were going somewhere.

These are all the tips I can think of for now, but I’ll do another post if I can think of anymore. Sorry this post ended up being so long, but thank you for sticking through it with me!

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