The Under-the-Radar West Elm Section Every College Student (or Parent) Should Know About

published Jun 16, 2023
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dorm room with bed, big windows, desk, hanging paper lanterns, closet
Credit: svetikd/Getty Images

Back in my day, pretty much the only places to shop for college essentials were Bed Bath & Beyond (R.I.P.) and Target. Sure, I found everything I needed, but now incoming and current students arguably have it made in terms of cute twin XL bedding options, storage baskets, dorm art, and beyond. Even Dormify has since emerged as a one-stop back-to-school shopping spot. I’ve also noticed certain home brands, like Pottery Barn Teen, starting to set aside their own dedicated dorm curations, and I recently discovered that another of my go-to spots (surprisingly) followed suit — West Elm.

Turns out, West Elm has its own under-the-radar college shopping section of the site, complete with bedding, decor, storage solutions, bath staples, and more. Of course, you can expect the same modern, of-the-moment styles that the company’s known for, albeit here on a smaller scale catered to dorms and off-campus apartments. Price points do vary, but their selections feel relatively on par with competitor brands — and everything’s also stylish and functional enough to keep through graduation and beyond, which isn’t always the case elsewhere.

They’ve also provided an extensive checklist with specific product suggestions, but I picked out a few of my favorite West Elm college finds below — whether you’re stocking up for freshman year, prepping to decorate off-campus housing, or even browsing for your first post-grad apartment.

Looking for more dorm design ideas and inspiration? Check out Apartment Therapy’s new site, Dorm Therapy, which features personal recommendations and reflections from a team of student contributors.

1 / 9
West Elm
$18.00

Easily keep tabs on exams, deadlines, and meetings with this $18 dry-erase calendar. At 14 inches long by 9 inches tall, it won’t take up too much room propped up against a desk or adhered to the wall.

2 / 9
West Elm
$152.10
was $169.00

The search for stylish, comfortable twin XL-sized bedding is officially over: designed in collaboration with Pottery Barn Teen, this striped comforter is made from 100 percent organically grown cotton and comes in pink, light blue, grey, navy, and olive. Bonus, it's now on sale for $152, or you can bundle the comforter and matching sham for $208.

3 / 9
West Elm
$50.00

College closets are notoriously small (mine was, at least), so maximize storage space with this canvas over-the-door organizer, which fits shoes, accessories, toiletries, etc.

4 / 9
West Elm
$199.00

Prepare to have the most well-decorated dorm or off-campus apartment thanks to this blue checkered rug. It’s design-forward, comfy, washable, and less than $200 for a 4’ by 6’ size.

5 / 9
West Elm
$35.10
was $39.00

Never understate the power of a good (and stylish) desk organizer. This minimalist Lazy Susan includes various pockets to stash school supplies, plus rotates for easy access to pens and Post-it notes. Choose from light pink and navy color options, too.

6 / 9
West Elm
$149.00

This velvet, floral-shaped pouf doubles as extra seating and dorm decor. It’s available in pink or blue, so you can style one solo or mix and match with your roommate if you have space for a pair.

7 / 9
West Elm
$399.00

Sure, this headboard falls on the splurgier side, but it’s perfect if you’re looking to personalize your dorm bed (especially if you anticipate having a twin beyond freshman year). The rattan design adds height and texture to the blank above-the-bed wall space, plus the squiggled portion feels perfect for threading in Command Hooks to help hang it up.

8 / 9
West Elm
$64.99
was $99.00

Brighten up homework all-nighters with this (currently discounted!) modern three-legged table lamp. Not only is it a fun pop of color for a desk or nightstand, but it’s a piece you can keep post-grad, too.

9 / 9
West Elm
$58.00

This resin hamper checks all the boxes: two compartments for separating clothes, side handles to lug it to the laundry room, and a sturdy Velcro lid. It also folds completely flat, too, so it’s perfectly packable.