How to Set Your Dorm Room Up for Success

There’s something inherently exciting and nervewracking about moving into a dorm room for the first time. For most teenagers, this is the first time they’ve lived in a different place away from their parents, and it’s more than likely the first time they’ve shared a room with one or two or three other strangers. Not to mention sharing a bathroom with a whole hallway of people!

Dorm rooms can be magical places: they are often full of late-night movies with friends, group dinners, chats with your roomies, and there can be a lot of solidarity studying in the same space as your roommates, even if you’re all at separate desks.

There are a lot of directions a dorm room can go, and it’s a good idea to set your space up for success. We’ve compiled a list of ideas for you to consider as you go about planning for your dorm room—hopefully, these ideas will spark some other plans for dorm-room organization and get you feeling excited for the year ahead.

1. Define separate and shared spaces

When you’re sharing a small space with another person (or multiple people), it’s a good idea to designate whose space is whose. Some of that will naturally occur: bed spaces and desk spaces are pretty clearly defined. However, take some time to verbally chat through if you’ll have separate or shared cupboard space, fridge space, drawer space, closet space, and even shower space depending on if your dorm room has its own bathroom or not.

Even discussing if you’ll share certain food items, like butter or milk or baking supplies, and when quiet hours should be are really healthy and helpful conversations to have. If your sharing space, it might not make sense for one roommate to have friends over to watch a movie until 3am when you’re trying to sleep because you have a final at 7am the next morning. Chatting through all these things might feel awkward, but it’s a positive and mature step to have a conversation about boundaries and spaces so that passive-aggressive behavior doesn’t start creeping in as the weeks go by and unspoken wants and needs don’t get pushed under the rug.

2. Organize

Sure, everyone approaches the topic of cleanliness differently, but it’s helpful if you have at least a vague plan in place for how you want to organize your things. Dorm rooms can quickly become rooms of horror after dirty laundry and dirty dishes have been piling up for weeks. That moldy sandwich under your bed? Probably want to do something about that.

Head to The Container Store or Target, enlist the help of a very neat friend, or even ask your mom for some ideas about how to keep clothes nice and organized, your desk and school supplies neatly packed away, and your toiletries contained in a certain area.

3. Make sure your furniture and decor are actually helpful

Depending on your personality, you might relish in the idea of decorating your dorm room and making it a cozy haven away from the hustle and bustle of college life. On the flip side, you might be the type of person who feels stressed out by making decisions about throw pillows. Either way, it’s a good idea to make sure you have some of the essentials when you move into a dorm room.

While that lovely little table lamp might have caught your eye, be sure that along with that, there’s enough lighting in your room so that you can read without straining your eyes. Investing in some space-saving furniture is a helpful idea too. If your bed is lofted up high, then you’ll be able to fit a couch or a desk underneath it, which will inevitably make more room in your dorm room for other furniture or storage options. Having a cluttered room can actually increase your stress, and you want to have a little breathing room to live, have fun, and do your homework. Consider other helpful additions like a mini fridge, extra shelving, or desk organizers.

Have fun with it
No dorm room is going to be perfectly arranged or stocked. Overall, make sure you have fun as you create your dorm room space—a little strategic thinking is certainly helpful, and as time goes on, you’ll learn what works for you and what doesn’t!