Summer feels like it just started, but back-to-school season is just upon us. I’m resisting stocking up on highlighters and planners right now, but there is one kind of school shopping it’s never too early to start. If you’re the parent of an incoming freshman, I recommend beginning dorm shopping sooner rather than later. After all, when it’s time for your newly-minted freshman to head off, they’ll need more than just some new school supplies.
Thankfully, dorms come stocked with the bare essentials, so there’s no need to go overboard with stuff. And, whenever possible, it’s best to start with what you have- yes, those coordinated hanger sets are cute and cheap, but what family doesn’t have a hidden stash of dry cleaner hangers floating around? So, starting now, assess what you have when it comes to dorm essentials, and then decide what you need to buy. That way, when it’s time to head out (and your kid is probably running around to as many farewell parties as possible), y’all just have to pack clothes and toiletries.
In terms of the rest of it, you’ll want to do what you can to make your child’s living space feel cozy. Here are my must-have supplies that will be useful and help create a new dorm that feels a bit more like home.
1. Cozy Chair
In a dorm room, beds basically do double-duty as couches. But for more comfortable hangouts (and a change of scenery), a small side chair is a must. This time of year, there are plenty of lightweight, collapsible options in stores. For a more discerning student, you can even check out GFM’s accent chairs.
2. Small Rug
Every bedroom needs a rug or a carpet, and a dorm room is no exception. It gives your feet somewhere soft and warm to land in the morning, helps keep you from tracking debris into bed, and really warms up a space. Dorm sizes vary, but usually, a small area rug (like 4’x6′) is good. If it’s a little big, you can always tuck it under the bed a bit.
3. Extra Storage
Keeping a dorm room organized is no small feat. You may not be able to make your kids make their beds anymore, but you can help them clean up fast when they need to. Adding hooks (command strips work great!) to various spots in the dorm, especially near the bed, closet, and door creates easy storage options. There are also plenty of pieces that provide hidden storage space to keep things off the floor.
4. “Kitchen” shelves
A mini-fridge and a microwave are necessities for anyone relying on cafeteria food full time. While your student probably won’t be whipping up a five-course meal, chances are they’ll be subsisting off plenty of ramen and Bagel Bites. But these mini-fridge set-ups often become a huge waste of vertical space. Shelves that are designed to go around mini-fridges, or stack on top of them, can provide a spot for a microwave to go and room for mugs, cups, and bowls to be stacked. Taller shelf units also have space for snacks and other dry goods.
5. Big pillows
Dorm rooms come with a desk, but I bet your student will do a fair amount of work (and Netflixing, hanging out, and talking on the phone…) in bed. To make the bed a comfy spot all day as well as all night, invest in some big, oversized pillows. For true comfort, get a body pillow as well as some overstuffed throw pillows.
6. Family Mementos
Finally, find a way to leave a piece of your family in the dorm. Your teen might be more interested in picking out a Reservoir Dogs poster, but if you can frame a family picture or make a small scrapbook, they’ll be grateful when homesickness hits (They just might never tell you about it.)
As always, live beautifully today!
-Mia, the Furniture Girl