Across the country, millions of college-bound freshmen are making the big move away from home—with tons of boxes in tow. The tendency to over-pack for move-in day is strong, but don’t stress: we’re here to help lighten your load.
We’ve picked out some of our favorite appliances, housewares, decorations, and other essential dorm room gear to make campus feel like home. With that sorted out, you’ll have more time to devote to the important college questions. Like: How many bowls of cereal can you really eat during one cafeteria meal?
A comfy dorm bed is college priority number one (never underestimate the value of a power nap between classes). Since those standard-issue mattresses aren’t always the softest, begin by investing in a memory foam mattress topper. Top it off with some sustainable twin XL-sized bedding; if you want to keep it green, opt for sweatshop-free, organic hemp sheets.
Next, on to our fave bed hack: bed risers. Lifting your bed a good few inches off the ground won’t just give you a valuable underbed storage area (speaking of: these underbed organizers are your friend)—but if you opt for Bed Bath & Beyond’s USB Bed Lift Set, you’ve got a charging station right where you need it.
Cinder block walls and linoleum floors aren’t gonna show up on your favorite design blogs anytime soon. Time to do some decorating beyond the dorm room clichés (sorry, Christmas lights).
First things first: Scope these eight great online stores for budget-friendly, beautiful artwork. If you want an even more personal touch, you can also transform your own photos into wall-sized masterworks. CanvasPop can turn everything from Instagram shots to photo collages into large-scale pieces.
Once you’ve dealt with the walls, turn your attention to the floor. A statement rug is one of the best ways to add some comfiness and personality to your space. If you wanna go green and upcycle some older textiles, opt to make a colorful rag rug of your own—here’s a nifty tutorial.
Not that we’re encouraging you to have any dorm room ragers, ahem, but you are gonna want to pack some fun stuff, too. Portable bluetooth speakers are one of the easiest ways to get a good vibe going. We like the UE ROLL 2, which is affordable, portable, sounds great, and is even waterproof. (That’s one way to make communal bathroom living more exciting.)
Want your dorm room hang sessions to be the talk of your floor? Add a projector to your routine and start screening movies (hey, those cinderblock walls can really come in handy after all!). Brookstone’s HDMI Pocket Projector, which hooks up to your smartphone, may be small, but it packs visual punch.
This is 2016—and we can bet that you’re not gonna be using your dorm room’s landline phone. Instead, invest in your own essential tech. For starters: a desk lamp. But we’re talking a desk lamp that also wirelessly charges your phone—meet IKEA’s Varv lamp, a game-changing piece of dorm room gear.
And because you can never get enough charge these days: Pick up a BirkSun, a backpack with a built-in solar panel that charges your phone as you walk between classes. For full connectivity, add in an Evernote Smart Notebook. The classic Moleskin notebook is linked with Evernote, so you can transform you handwritten notes from class to the Cloud in a matter of moments.
You already know the standard dorm room gear: it isn’t college without a mini-fridge, microwave, and sandwich toaster (whaddup, George Foreman). But don’t stop there. You may not realize it now, but a portable coffee maker is gonna be a life (and money) saver during your time in college. The super-portable AeroPress is a one-shot wonder, while the French press travel mug lets you take your freshly made joe to class and back. Ahh—you’re halfway to an A+ already.