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The Essential Checklist for a Well-Dressed Dorm

published Aug 8, 2019
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Credit: Target

Whether you’re off to college for the first time or upgrading to off-campus housing, decorating your space is all about finding the balance between functionality and personality—and doing it all on a budget. Luckily, Target has everything you need to make back-to-school planning a breeze. It’s your one-stop shop for affordable dorm living, from bedding that sets you up for a good night’s sleep (and inevitable late-night studying) to plenty of storage (trust us: that’s the real secret to a good-looking dorm).

Beyond-Basic Bedding

Since your bed is the focal point of the room—it’ll double as a sofa and erstwhile study space—pick a pattern or color palette that will enhance its uses. Want something soothing? Go for pink. For a clean look, choose white. Or warm it up with blue.

  • Mattress Pad: It makes a standard-issue dorm bed so much comfier.
  • Pillows: Get at least two for a good night’s sleep.
  • Twin XL Sheets: One for the bed, two for the wash (in case you’re late on laundry).
  • Twin XL Comforter: Or a duvet insert and cover if that’s your style. These start as low as $15 to keep your dorm room look under budget.
  • Blanket: For a cozy layer on cold nights.
  • Bedrest: You’ll need this study pillow for lounging with your laptop.
  • Throw Pillows: To use your bed as a comfy couch, choose three to five.

Stylish Storage & Organization

No room feels nice when it’s cluttered with stuff, and your tiny space will need a little extra help to keep it neat and clean.

  • Utility Cart: This affordable workhorse serves as a tiny pantry, supply cart, bedside table, and more—its versatility is up to you.
  • Cubby and Cubes: For books, beauty products, and everything else.
  • Storage Drawers: Organize supplies for cleaning, showers, and school.
  • Desk Organizer: Keep your stuff on display, so it’s easy to find.
  • Closet Organizer: Use it to fit all your clothes in a tiny dorm closet.
  • Storage Ottoman: For the extra clothes and linens that won’t fit.
  • Laundry Baskets: Go for an under-bed basket to save space, but don’t forget a laundry bag for hauling dirty clothes to the washroom. Pro tip: choose one with a shoulder strap.
Credit: Target

Decor to Add Personality

For a pulled-together look, pick a color palette (like tonal pinks or shades of sunny yellow) and choose a few different pieces in the same family. These are some of of our favorite pieces that pack a lot of personality into a minimal pricetag.

  • Area Rug: The floors of most dorm rooms can best be described as…utilitarian; adding a rug is the fastest way to bring in some warmth and personality on a budget.
  • Full-Length Mirror: Reflects your style and makes a space feel bigger.
  • Wall Art: The perfect way to add some personality.
  • Picture Hanging Strips: They make it easy to take it all down come summer.

Double-Duty Furniture

Furniture needs to work harder in any small space. Think: folding chairs, storage benches, stackable poufs, and sleeper chairs or sofas.

  • Lounge Seating: When work piles up, it’s nice to have a reading nook.
  • Accent Table: Put a microwave or lamp on a storage table.
  • Futon: If you’ve got the space, a sofa-slash-guest-bed comes in handy.
Credit: Target

More Must-Haves

Don’t forget to check your list against your roommate’s before shopping, so you don’t end up with two fridges or two toaster ovens!

  • Kitchen Essentials: Dinnerware sets, flatware sets, and food containers.
  • Kitchen Appliances: Mini-fridge, microwave, coffee maker, and toaster.
  • Electronics: Laptop, cords, headphones, speaker, batteries, etc.
  • Lamps: The quickest way to warm up an institutional space is to use soft lamps at eye-level instead of harsh overhead lighting.
  • Bath Towels: Get three sets, so you’ll (hopefully) always have one that’s clean.
  • Water Bottle: At least two (one for your bag and one for your room).
  • Backpack: Big enough for books and nice enough to wear everywhere.
  • Games: Need a new-roommate icebreaker? Try Cards Against Humanity.