As July rolls to an end and August comes creeping in, stores are beginning to stock-pile fresh supplies for the coming school year. For those of you fortunate enough to be leaving high school behind and moving into college residences, I present you with a dorm-room must-have list.

– Bed-in-a-Bag. Usually a bed-in-a-bag includes all the essentials, as well as a few decorative pillows if you’re willing to spend a touch more money. A bed-in-a-bag is a very quick way to achieve a put together feel to your dorm room.

P.S. a reversible comforter is ideal— whether you’re too lazy to wash your comforter frequently or just want to change up the view every now and then, a reversible comforter is cheaper than buying two separate comforters or duvet covers. 

– Storage crates and bins. Whether it’s for storing winter gear, extra supplies, or makeup, storage is a necessity when moving into a small dorm.

Not down for those garish plastic bins from Walmart? Invest in some stylish cloth storage bins. Or, if you’ve got extra cash to burn on some rad storage pieces, a Trunk can double as a coffee table, bedside table, or a seat piece for the end of your bed.

Another great piece is a rolling drawer set. Use it to tuck away textbooks or supplies if you’re seriously lacking space. It can also double as a bedside table [or a snack drawer].

– Laundry essentials. It’s never a good idea to think you’re gonna head home every month and drag home your seven loads of dirty laundry. No one wants to have to turn underwear inside out to get a few more wears. A handy tip is to grab those Tide or Gain detergent pods that can be used in every type of washer — it eliminates the need to measure out how much soap you’ll need. Drier sheets remove static from your clothes, a major must-have during the winter months.

Don’t forget a laundry basket. A collapsable basket is easy to store away when not in use, and a basket with a cover hides your unmentionables from peeky guests! Whatever one you choose, make sure it has handles to make it easier to drag to and from the laundry.

– Shower essentials. In my first year on residence I was lucky enough to have a four-bedroom, two-bathroom suite-style dorm that allowed me to only share a bathroom with one other person. However, most universities offer communal shower options. 

shower caddy is a must. You won’t have to worry about your roommate using your shampoo or razor with this handy invention. You also won’t have to worry about juggling your towel and an armful of shower supplies. Save yourself an embarrassing trip — get a shower caddy.

In terms of what to pack into your shower caddy, Lush Cosmetics’ shampoo bars are a god-send in terms of longevity and weight. Not only can they last up to 80 showers, they’re easy to store in Lush’s tin containers.

Pick up a pair of cheap shower slippersEspecially in communal style showers. Don’t be that person that winds up with a nasty foot infection.

– Microwave. Most universities don’t provide a kitchen, so it’s up to you to pick up a microwave or toaster oven. It’s a life saver when you’re on that study grind, the cafeteria’s closed, and it’s a fifteen minute walk through the blistering cold to the closest Starbucks. Microwavable oatmeal, or toast up a sandwich in a toaster oven — these mini-cookers are very helpful.

Mini-Fridge. There ain’t any question about this one. Get a mini-fridge. It’ll keep your drinks cold [even if you’re not supposed to have alcohol on campus], it’ll keep leftovers or yogurt cold. Do you like cereal in the morning? Get a small carton of milk, shove it in the fridge, and stash away a few boxes of Special K and you’ll always have breakfast [or a midnight snack].

P.S. if it has a small freezer section, you could keep ice-cream! Yummy.

Coffee Maker. If you’re a coffee addict, a Keurig will be the crutch you lean on when the days are cold and the all-nighters long. A Keurig can brew your coffee and, if you’re not a coffee lover, it also offers hot chocolate or tea selections.

Spending $5 every morning on a venti Starbucks coffee can really put a dent in your budget and, at roughly $17 for 24 Keurig pods, this investment is a blessing for your bank account. Even if the actual machinery [a Keurig runs up between $119 to $199 for latest models] is a bit pricey, in the long term it turns out cheaper than purchasing daily cups of coffee.

You could actually run up to $100 in Starbucks coffee, assuming you’re going venti, a month? Now imagine how much you’ll be spending a semester! A $17 24 pack of Keurig pods can last almost a month and sounds  a lot kinder on your bank account too!

Printer. A few of you freshies might think that you could just use school printers rather than buying your own — it might be cheaper, it saves space, etc. However, it’s much better to just buy your own for the sake of convenience.

Relying on the school’s printer stations may turn out to be more expensive in the long run [most charge you per page], and it’s a hassle having to leave the comfort of your room during finals to print a 15-page paper that you forgot about that’s due in two hours.

Decor. On a funner note, decor is an ideal way to revamp those cramped white cinderblock walls. Target’s line of decor is on-point, but if you’re up for some pricier investment pieces to make your room really stand out, Brit+Co’s shop is filled with gorgeous unique decor items.

Picture-frames [my favourite is Prisma] can help personalize a room, but the lack of desk/counter space may make wall-art a more viable option. Grab some 3M tape and start plastering your walls with your favourite moments or inspirational quotes.

For a classier look, buy some small square picture frames from the Dollar Store and try your own Instagram Wall!

Fairy-lights are very popular right now, so pick up a string from Walmart or Target and go wild.

Desk/Floor Lamp. Some dorms provide a desk lamp for you, but others don’t. If not, my favourite desk-lamp is Walmart’s Swingarm. It’s stylish and moveable. If you’re going to get a floor lamp, I’d suggest swinging for a classic piece that can be reused after you move out. Those colourful, three-arm lamps may seem cool in September, but when you’re moving into an apartment in April, it might start looking a bit childish.

Succulents or fake plants. If you’re allowed to keep a small plant in your room, I definitely recommend grabbing a few succulents or cacti! They’re very hardy plants, and you can go without watering them for almost two weeks. However, if you’re not allowed to have plants, head on over to a local Michaels or craft store and buy a few fake plants.

Most stores sell fake succulents or, if you’re not a succulent person, you can pick up plant garlands and turn your dorm into a forest themed getaway.

** Prices based on Canadian pricing.


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