Across the country, parents and college-bound kids are making checklists of all the basics they'll need for dorm life. If you're looking for a few ways to customize a dorm room and make it feel like a lived-in space, here are some of our recommended resources.
Modern Furniture & Accessories for Small Spaces
These stores carry modern and contemporary designs for small spaces. Prices are higher than big box places, but the stuff is nicer and made to last beyond the dorm years.
This online shop has a college living section with cool-looking bean bags, designer organizers, and high-end accessories. Prices aren't cheap, but you can find versatile pieces, like the $229 Fatboy Lounge, which can be styled in multiple positions.
This web-based store carries affordable and designer furniture for small spaces. Especially useful for dorm rooms are their computer/cord organizers and storage pieces (like the $160 Componibili, which is a little expensive but super durable and will last into the next apartment).
At Work Design
This Midwestern store specializes in storage and items for the home office, which makes it a good resource for college kids who care about design. The Droog Wall Strap ($28) is a cool alternative to the traditional bulletin board.
Supplies and Appliances
Mini fridges, cleaning supplies — they're not the sexiest things on the list, but they can impact whether or not a dorm is comfortable to live in.
When you're stocking up on basics like laundry detergent and cleaning supplies, look for nontoxic brands. We like the selection at Green Depot, where they also carry air and water filters, which can come in handy when you're living in community housing.
Shopping for a microwave, mini fridge, travel cooler, or air conditioner? This online store carries a huge range of appliances for small spaces. You can even find a fridge to match your decor — this is the hot pink Haier NuCool Cube Fridge for $127.
Allergy Buyer's Club
If you're shopping for allergy-proof bedding or air filters, this online store is a resource we've used before. For a dorm, we like the compact size of the HEPA Austin Air Healthmate Plus Jr. for $380.
Big Box and Chain Stores
These are affordable go-to stores for dorm basics: bedding, laundry hampers, shower caddies...all those checklist items that every kid needs.
Going to IKEA for dorm supplies is a rite of passage these days. It's the go-to home store for college students, for good reason — it's cheap and a lot of it looks cool if you don't overdo it. We like their lighting selection for a dorm; this is the Ljusas Uvas Table Lamp for $40.
Another dorm shopping staple, the Container Store is a good source for laundry baskets, trash cans, shower caddies, and small storage. We prefer their basic, natural cloth pieces, like the Umbra Rectangular Crunch Laundry Basket for $20.
Their bedding selection lately has been pretty good, with budget designer lines from DwellStudio, Thomas O'Brien, and Rachel Ashwell. Shown left is the Thomas O'Brien Pale Sky sheet set for $70.
Individual, one-of-a-kind pieces are the things that really make a dorm room feel more personal and less like a standard issue space.
Thrift Store Guide
GoodWill, the Salvation Army, St. Vincent DePaul...they all become indispensable resources when you're a poor college kid. What's more, they carry one-of-a-kind things that can save a dorm room from feeling too IKEA-ed out.
Photo: The Container Store