Dorm Essentials: Decor Tips

Dorm rooms don’t look how I remember them from my University days… 30+ years ago. Here is a list of Dorm Decor Essentials for 2019, from my University attending kids.

In our household, we’ve reached that part of the summer where Quinton and Emma are thinking about what they want to bring back to school with them in the fall. Emma is focused on her dorm decor.

Dorm decor essentials… are drastically different for these two.

My son isn’t anywhere close to caring as much as his sister does. In his freshman year, his room consisted of mismatched bedding my mom’s new husband had around his house before they got married. A couple of license plates from her restaurant and a map of the world hung on the walls. A wood duck, named Marlin, hanging from the ceiling in the corner of the dorm room. In his second year, he added a sofa he’d found for free.

My daughter and her cousin Emily were roommates their freshman year (and again this year). Before school started they went shopping together to ensure they’d match. For their dorm decor – they picked out a colour scheme, bought plenty of twinkle lights, added a few cacti, and soon their room was Insta-worthy.

I asked a group from our church and family (6 in total; 5 girls and 1 boy) who are heading back to Trinity Western in the fall to give me a list of THE MUST-HAVE items for a dorm in 2019.

Keep in mind when you’re helping pack up to go… their dorm room will be TINY! If it’s their first year, they will be tempted to take everything, including the kitchen sink. One of the ways to help your child towards a stress-free year is to keep the dorm room organized!


Dorm Decor:

  • Twinkle Lights
  • Twinkle Lights
  • Twinkle Lights, not a typo… the more, the better the girls said. Even my son hung lights… old Christmas lights he found at a thrift store
  • Diffuser
  • Decor Pillows
  • Throw Blanket, for napping
  • Fan, the dorms can be stuffy, with limited airflow. Windows that don’t fully open. We chose a narrow tower fan for the best use of the tiny floor plan
  • Cork Board
  • Thumbtacks
  • White Board
  • Dry Erase Markers, there are very colourful options out there
  • Sharpie, write on your food in the dorm fridge
  • Washi Tape
  • 3M Hanging Strips
  • Desk Organizer
  • Desk Light
  • Pillow or Sheep Skin Cover, for the hard, plastic desk chair
  • Bedside Storage Caddy
  • Printed Photos, family, friends, and even pets
  • Plants, are a must-have for Emma. They give the room life and give her some responsibility to keep it alive!

Dorm Tech:

  • Extension Cords
  • Power Bar
  • Thumb Drives
  • Laptop
  • External Hard Drive
  • Portable Speaker
  • Long Cord Phone Charger

Dorm Life:

  • Laundry Basket, that folds up
  • Clothes Hangers
  • Bedding, one set of sheets is enough
  • Foam Mattress Pad
  • Portable 3-drawer storage
  • Hanging Shelf, closet organizer
  • Refillable Water Bottle
  • Tea/Coffee Travel Mug
  • Dishes, a plate/bowl/mug
  • Microwaveable Cooking / Steam Bowl
  • Cutlery
  • Snacks, a collection of starter snacks like granola bars, popcorn, peanut butter, instant oatmeal, hot chocolate, tea bags, and any other favourites
  • Cards / Games

Dorm Clean:

  • Disinfectant Wipes
  • Laundry Detergent
  • Dryer Sheets
  • Stain Stick
  • Soft Tissue
  • Shower Flip-Flops
  • Shower Caddy

There are plenty of other things I could list for the kids to pack, but most schools have a Dorm Checklist on their website. Check with them first before bringing anything like mini-fridges, microwaves, toasters, kettles, etc. Those items are not allowed in the dorm room at the University my kids go to. They have a common kitchen for small appliances, including a full-sized fridge.

You might want to bring some extra LED lights for the common lounge area, you’ll be a hero!

Quinton is returning for his third year as a Political Science major and Emma is looking forward to her second year, studying social sciences. They both attend a faith-based private Liberal Arts school on the west coast of Canada, Trinity Western University (TWU).

Related Links: 5 Ways to Financially Prepare for University


I'm the Cool Mom of 4, Married to the Preacher Man, but at times I'm a little more Sass than Saint!

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