-SLH Lifestyle Editor:
While the heat of summer is still going strong, the thought of back to school may seem far away. But with many colleges starting in several weeks, now is the time to start planning what you’ll need for the semester. Depending on your University, you may be looking at a few optional sizes. A traditional dorm room is usually less than 130 square feet per person. Some colleges offers apartment dorms (for higher cost, naturally) that can go upwards to 180 square feet. In any case, it’s going to be smaller than you’re used to, and that means getting creative with your space.
First, let’s focus on the essentials. If you’re sending someone to school or heading there yourself, these are the items you NEED to have if you intend on being able to function.
BED LINENS – Definitely confirm with your college what size bed you will have at your dorm. Some schools stick with twin size beds, however most these days supply an extra-long twin. This one item will most likely take up the most amount of real estate in the room, so it’s your best opportunity to bring in your personal style and color. As an additional idea, consider asking your roommate what color choices they like and/or were thinking of bringing into the space. A coordinated color scheme can really help make the space look larger (as opposed to contrasting décor which makes the eye immediately segment the space, making your tiny room look even smaller). Here are some fun bold choices we like
Shop This Look : Catherine Malandrino Nap Queen Turquoise 3-Piece Twin Comforter Set Twin $24.99, Premium 1800 Ultra-Soft Microfiber Sheet Set Twin Extra Long – Double Brushed – Hypoallergenic – Wrinkle Resistant Twin XL $24.70, Nanette LePore Spring Floral Blossom 4-Piece Twin Comforter Set $29.99, Mezzati Luxury 1800 Prestige Soft and Comfortable Collection Bed Sheets Set Twin XL White $22.70, Fanatics Ohio State Buckeyes Modern Take Twin Comforter Set $79.99, Ohio State Buckeyes 100% Cotton, 3 Piece Set Twin XL $52.17
MATTRESS COVER & TOPPER – Trust us on this one, you will be glad you did. Standard college mattresses are a mere 6 inches thick. That’s 4 to 6 inches thinner than the mattress you’re probably sleeping on right now. Not to mention, that cover will help reduce the ick factor that you are most definitely not the first (or last) person to sleep on this fellow. This is definitely the one item you can feel confident going heavier on the expense for, because believe us, you will be glad you did…
Shop This Look : 3″ 100% Natural Latex Mattress Topper, Twin Xl, Firm $289, Twin XL Size Premium Waterproof Vinyl Free Hypoallergenic Breathable Mattress Protector Cover For Bed Bugs Dust Mites $37.99, eLuxury 4″ Double Thick 2-piece Mattress Pad & Comfort Topper Twin XL $149.99, Lucid Zippered Mattress Encasement Bed Bug and Waterproof Protector Twin XL $26.99, Twin XL 4 Inch iSoCore 5.0 Memory Foam Mattress Topper with Expandable Cover and Two Contour Pillows included $149.99, Bedbug Solution Vinyl Zip Twin XL Mattress Box Spring Protectors $18.99
COMMAND STRIPS – Putting nails or thumbtacks into your dorm wall is a big no-no for just about every college out there. So how to best take advantage of your tiny real estate? These little sticky strips + hooks are amazing and come in all styles and strengths. We recommend grabbing a few of the light duty for smaller items, like keys, toothbrush, sunglasses, headphones, phone charger, calendars, class schedule, etc. Medium weight is perfect for hanging small pictures, belts, jewelry, even your ipad (use 3 hooks, 2 below and one to the side and just slide the tablet into it). Heavy weight (5lbs) fellows are great for hanging jackets, coats, bath towel, robe, shower totes, a small mirror and if you are feeling like those college supplied blinds aren’t cutting it for you, you can even use them to hang lightweight curtains (Editor’s Note – check with your college first to confirm curtains are permitted, as some schools do not allow any window covering other than the issued window blinds).
Shop This Look : Command Small Wire Hooks Value Pack, White, 14 Hooks, 24 Strips $7.88, Command All Weather Hooks and Strips, Plastic, Small, 32 Clips & 36 Strips/Pack $12.98, Command Hooks and Medium Strips, Clear, Value Pack, 1 set $14.99, Command General Purpose Hooks, Value Pack 6 hooks $11.99, Command Decorative Hook, Traditional, Metallic Coated 1 hook $7.99, Command Wire Hook, Large 1 each $4.99
WASHI TAPE/WALL DECALS – Speaking of no-no’s and dorm walls, you can add paint and wallpaper to the list. So how’s a gal supposed to pin up her posters, let alone show off her amazing style? Washi tape to the rescue! This stuff has become a certified Pin & Gram phenomenon with millions (yup) of ideas showing just how great this Japanese-inspired tape can be. It sticks to drywall and cinder block (yaaas!), and comes in all sorts of colors and prints. Use it for hanging your posters and creating cool wall designs from general patterns, flying airplanes, origami, just about anything you can think of. And if you can’t think of it, there are scores of places to grab inspiration. Looking for something less DIY? Check out self-adhesive repositionable vinyl wall decals. Easy peel and stick and add just the right amount of pop to those drab walls.
Shop This Look : Create 365 Happy Planner Washi Tape 7/Pkg-Watercolor $7.86, The Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh, 5’1″W x 4’0″ H $79.99, Be The Change You Wish To See, 3’2″W x 1’10” H $59.99, Oregon Ducks – Logo Assortment $39.99, Fathead – Tree Branch Left Corner – Brown & Green 5’8″W x 3’5″H $99.99
MESH SHOWER TOTE – If you’ve never had to share a bathroom with anyone, dorm life can be an eye-opening experience. You may be sharing with just your roommate or three or four…you get the point. A good shower tote will keep your things organized and within reach. There are several types out there but your best option is to go with mesh. Fabric gets wet and stays wet and plastic can mold. Here’s a few good ones we like
Shop This Look : Easy-Carry Mesh Toiletry and Shower Tote with 6 Storage Compartments $15.99, Honey-Can-Do Pink Six Pocket Quick Dry Shower Tote $12.31, okroo Shower Tote with Extra 9th Pocket Shower Caddy Organizer $8.99
BATH ROBE WITH POCKETS – Speaking of sharing, this one is a must have. Dorms equal lots of students going to and fro, often around the same time. Consider this your conservative cover-up. And yes, get the one with pockets, because “wow I really wish I didn’t have pockets” was said by no one…ever.
Shop This Look : Coral Bay Womens Solid Waffle Wrap Robe $26.40, Fanatics Concept Sport Women’s Allover Print Fleece Robe $49.99, Silver Lilly Women’s Hooded Bunny Animal Plush Bath Robe $24.99
SHOWER SHOES – Almost every college these days requires these. Really, you should pick up a pair even if they don’t require it. Hey, we know you practice good hygiene but can you speak to everyone using that dorm and/or student gym shower? Yeah, we thought so too…
QUICK DRY TOWELS – We all love an indulgently plush towel but not when it’s still drippy when you get back to your room by day’s end. So we recommend a good quality quick dry terry towel…actually, we recommend 3 – one bath sized, one hand towel and a wash cloth.
Shop This Look : Earth Therapeutics Quick Dry Hair Towel $8.97, Martha Stewart Collection Quick Dry Reversible Towel Collection, 100% Cotton – $16.00 Bath Towel, $12.00 Hand Towel, $10.00 Wash Towel
DIMMABLE DESK LAMP – For those late night cramming sessions and/or the dreaded all-nighter, don’t add the stress of a grumpy sleep-deprived roomie to your list of things to deal with at 2 am. Oh, and a big word of advice – skip the halogens and go for LED. Just about every college we know of prohibit halogen bulbs due to safety concerns. Also, much as we love them, leave the fairy lights at home too…most universities don’t allow them since they are not usually UL certified. Here are a few stylish, UL certified dimmable options we like
Shop This Look : LED Concepts Portable Reable Dimmable Desk Lamp, Touch-Sensitive Design, Cordless Option, 3 Different Light Settings $17.99, Lorell 18.2″ Dimmable Desk Lamp with USB Power Outlet and Smartphone Charging Base $68.99
COLLAPSIBLE LAUNDRY BAG – It is official, your mother isn’t coming with you to college, so you are going to have to do laundry yourself. How often you do it is up to you but let’s just say on average most students do their laundry about once a week. That being said, a home size hamper really isn’t necessary, nor does it make sense to waste precious floor space with a hard plastic monstrosity. Best case you want something light, easy to carry and ideally something that can be folded away when not in use. We love the pop-up mesh laundry basket over the standard fabric bag because it’s easier to carry and you look a little less like you just came from a bank heist, plus many have built in pockets on the sides for carrying your laundry detergent, bleach and fabric softener. No more getting back to the dorm only to discover you’ve left your tide pods back at the laundry room again.
Shop This Look: CBD Foldable Washing Clothes Laundry Basket Hampers $6.29, Rebrilliant Laundry Hamper $21.99, Bed, Bath & Beyond Pop-Up Mesh Laundry Hamper $7.99
MICRO-FRIDGE – Again, this is one to check with your college first. Some colleges only allow you to rent their approved versions while others are fine with you purchasing one so long as it follows campus approved rules for appliances. If you do end up having to rent, there’s nothing saying you can’t freshen it up in the same manner as your walls (ie Washi tape and removable decals). If you are able to purchase, here’s a few durable ones that should handle the year well for you
Shop This Look: RCA Yellow 6-Can Mini Retro Fridge, 9.5″x7″x10″ $29.97, Costway Stainless Steel Refrigerator Small Freezer Cooler Fridge Compact 3.2 cu ft. Unit $189.99, Kenmore 99098 4.4 cu. ft. Retro Compact Refrigerator – Mint $224.99
ELECTRONICS & ACCESSORIES – More than just a convenience, laptops are a must have for colleges, just like your smart phone. Along with the accompanying cords, adaptors, chargers and cables we recommend a good surge protector, a midrange external hard drive (2 TB should be perfect to cover work, files, photos and anything else in the event of a laptop accident), noise cancelling headphones and if you’re an Amazon Prime member, think about ditching the heavy text books entirely with a Kindle (note the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library for Prime members gets you access to over 600,000 books free of charge and most colleges allow rental of e-textbooks)
Shop This Look : Wireless QI Charging Pad $19.99, Nicole Miller Cable Keychain $12.00, 6 Outlet Swivel Surge Protector Wall Tap, 2160 Joules $27.12, Metallic Rose Bluetooth Earbuds $18.97, Sony XB950N1 Noise Canceling Extra Bass Wireless Headphones & Accessories Kit $198.00
UNDER BED STORAGE – Remember at the beginning we talked about real estate? A typical dorm comes supplied with a bed, a desk, a small dresser/nightstand and chair. That’s about it for furniture and yet those items will take up more space than you realize. Why add to the clutter trying to figure out where to put those plastic crates or that weird plastic 3-drawer thing? Instead double up on the real estate you already have and use the space under your bed. A 12 shoe storage solution and 2 good sized breathable storage bags should fit nicely under your bed and keep your room that much more roomy. Oh, and do yourself a favor and skip the hard plastic boxes – they’re great for long term storage but you’ll be making daily use of these storage devices in lieu of an armoire and fabric makes for a much easier experience (plus they are a lot easier to carry and maneuver around).