Dorm Decor That Does Double Duty
Millions of college students are heading off (or back) to college. Some are moving into dorm rooms, while others will be living off campus. But they’re all probably trying to figure out what to bring and how to organize small spaces. “I tell families to think of multifunctional and minimalist items that can fill several purposes,” says Amy Tokos, president of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals and a mother of four. “Consider what is really necessary since whatever you bring in the fall will also need to be packed up and removed in the spring.”
These are some of the items we recommend bringing to your dorm room or apartment to create a safe, comfortable, and functional space.
Adjustable Standing Desk Converter
Sitting is the new smoking, and sitting for long periods of time can cause a variety of health problems. An adjustable standing desk allows students to study while either standing or sitting. If, however, you already have a desk, you can still reap the benefits of alternating sitting and standing with Mount-It’s standing desk converter, which is on our list of the best standing desk converters. It sits on top of your existing desk, holds up to 37.5 pounds, and adjusts in height from 6.25 inches to 17 inches. With eight height presets, it’s great for students who are short, tall, or somewhere in between, and it even includes an accessory tray. Available on Amazon.
Ergonomic Desk Chair
Studying is a lot easier when you’re comfortable, and the Uplift Desk J3 Ergonomic Chair takes comfort to the next level. The chair’s back has a contoured shape to fit the natural curve of the spine, and the leather seat with a high-density foam cushion has a waterfall edge to make your legs more comfortable. The mesh back and headrest improve airflow, and the headrest provides support for the head and neck. But the real beauty of this chair lies in the many ways it can be adjusted to provide a customized fit. You can adjust the seat’s height, depth, armrest height, headrest position, back height, recline, and tilt tension. Available on Amazon.
Portable Computer Monitor
Trying to cram a lot of information on a tiny laptop screen is a recipe for tired eyes and headaches. The Espresso Display Portable Monitor can double your screen real estate. This 15-inch monitor can be rotated to view horizontally or vertically. It’s ultra thin (0.2 inches), so it doesn’t take up much space on a desk, and it can even fit into a laptop bag to take to class or the library. And because it’s made of aeronautical-grade aluminum, it’s also sturdy. The touch-screen monitor weighs 1.5 pounds, has USB and HDMI ports, and comes with cables. Available on Amazon.
Interior Security Camera
A basic interior security camera can ensure that your belongings are safe when you’re not home. Just set the Ring Stick Up Battery Security Camera on a table or other flat surface, or mount it on a wall, and you’ll gain a little extra peace of mind. If you have roommates, you can receive real-time notifications on your phone when they enter your room, and you can also view your room live and talk to your pets with 1080p HD video and two-way talk. Students who live off campus might want to add the Ring Video Doorbell, which tops the list of our best doorbell cameras. Available on Amazon.
Firm Organic Mattress-in-a-Box
A good mattress is essential for a good night’s sleep, and that’s where the Naturepedic Chorus Organic Mattress comes in. This latex hybrid mattress is made with organic cotton fabric and fill, which are healthier than synthetic fabrics and foams. Its organic wool batting keeps you warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer while providing natural fire protection. The mattress has glueless encased support coils and microcoils, and because each coil is wrapped in its own pocket, vibrations and movements are isolated and dampened, so you barely feel them. Available on Amazon.
Related: 9 Ways You’re Ruining Your Mattress
Soft Organic Mattress-in-a-Box
Students who prefer a softer sleeping surface might like the Happsy Organic Mattress. This hybrid is made of organic wool for breathability, softness, and temperature regulation, and it’s filled with organic cotton for a purer and healthier sleep experience. The latex in the mattress gently contours to the body to provide pressure point relief while the pocketed springs reduce motion transfer. Also, the mattress does not contain glues, adhesives, or flame-retardant chemicals. It does not need to be flipped or rotated, and it’s available with an optional organic latex mattress topper. Available on Amazon.
These Cariloha Resort bamboo sheets offer everything college students want. They’re twice as soft as cotton, 3 degrees cooler than cotton, and odor resistant. Even better for the eco-conscious, bamboo is a sustainable resource. The sateen finish makes the sheets ultra soft, and they’re also moisture wicking and thermal regulating, making them ideal for every season of the year. The sheets are available in a variety of colors, including Blue Lagoon, Blush, Coconut Milk, Harbor Gray, Ocean Mist, Onyx, Stone, and White. It’s no surprise that they’re on our list of the best bamboo sheets. Available on Amazon.
Many college students spend more time sleeping on the sofa than in their bed. Unfortunately, because sofas don’t provide the best support, they often wake up with neck pain and/or a headache. Help them sleep more comfortably with the Pillow Cube, a small box-shaped pillow that fits perfectly on sofas and fills that space between your shoulders and head, making it a particularly good option for side sleepers. Cooling technology keeps you comfy, and the pillow provides vital support that helps prevent snoring and acid reflux. The pillow comes with a cover, and pillowcases are available separately in a variety of colors and patterns. Available on Amazon.
Cordless Stick Vacuum
First-year students will soon find out what it’s like not to have Mom around to clean up after them. They may find that the Proscenic P11 Cordless Stick Vacuum and Mop Combo is the next best thing to Mom. It has a 450W brushless motor and a removable battery that lasts up to 53 minutes before it needs to be charged. The vacuum cleans both hard floors and carpet, and it even has a magnetic water bin and mop attachments to simultaneously vacuum and mop hard floors. In addition, the vacuum also includes a variety of brush and crevice tools, and has a touch screen that makes it easy to operate. We liked it so much that it’s on our list of the best vacuum mop combos. Available on Amazon.
Robot Vacuum and Mop
Students who would rather not be bothered with cleaning at all will appreciate the Dreame D9 Robot Vacuum and Mop Cleaner. It can be controlled through voice and its app, so students can issue voice commands or even schedule it to clean while they’re sleeping or in class. Once the rooms have been mapped, the robot will bypass obstacles and no-go zones to clean efficiently and quickly. Smart sensors ensure that the robot won’t fall down steps, and it’s clever enough to cross thresholds without getting stuck. The app also provides the ability to adjust water distribution, suction power, and other functions. Available on Amazon.
Noise-Canceling Headphones or Earbuds
Students living in dorms or off campus have two audio needs: They need to be able to block out external distractions when studying and they need to avoid distracting/disturbing others with loud sounds. These Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Headphones can help accomplish both goals. The adaptive noise-canceling headphones block external sounds, yet when you lift an ear cup to hear what’s going on, the music stops. The headphones’ arms are made of carbon fiber composite and are designed to withstand wear and tear. They work with Bluetooth or can be connected to a device via a 3.5mm audio jack or USB cable, and one charge lasts 30 hours. For students who prefer earbuds, the Bowers & Wilkins PI5 in-ear headphones have active noise-canceling technology, a 25-hour battery life, and twin built-in microphones for crystal-clear phone calls. Available on Amazon.
Floor Lamp That Doubles as a Desk Lamp
If space is a concern (and when isn’t it in a room intended for college students?), the Dyson Lightcycle Morph Floor Lamp does double duty. As a floor lamp, it can light up those dark spaces that aren’t illuminated by the ceiling light. And because the lamp’s arm can extend about 2 feet, it can also light your desk area. But when you need to rest your eyes, you can let the lamp’s ambient light feature set a relaxing mood. In fact, it’s actually four lights in one: task light, indirect light, feature light, and ambient light, so it can serve all of your lighting needs. If you use the Dyson app, you can even control the lamp’s settings via smartphone. Available at Best Buy.
Related: 11 Desk Lamps to Lighten Any Task
Espresso Machine With Milk Frother
College students may not have the budget (or time) to stop by the coffeehouse every day, but with the Nespresso Lattissima One, they won’t need to. This compact, updated version of the Nespresso Lattissima One even made our list of the best Nespresso machines. It’s sleek and fast: In just 25 seconds, it’s ready to brew espresso, and it takes only 40 seconds for milk beverages. The ability to brew espresso, latte, and cappuccino with a single touch, together with the 19-bar pump, mean it’s super easy to brew a great cup of your favorite brew. The milk jug is dishwasher-safe and the used capsules eject into an internal storage container, so cleanup is easy too. Available on Amazon.
Phones carry a lot of bacteria, and what are the chances that college students will remember to wipe them down regularly and thoroughly? It’s better to rely on the PhoneSoap Pro, which makes this chore easy and ensures a germ-free phone every time. The process is simple: Place the smartphone inside the PhoneSoap container, and the clinically proven bacteria-zapping technology will kill 100 percent of the germs in 5 minutes. It can also zap germs on jewelry, keys, credit cards—anything that will fit inside the container. There’s also a USB port and a USB-C port, so the phone can be charged while it’s killing germs. That’s why it’s on our list of the best phone cleaners. Available on Amazon.
Other Dorm Accessories That Will Come in Handy
In addition, Tokos recommends adding the following items to your list:
- Mounting hooks and squares
- Underbed storage, or if space allows, padded cubes or a storage trunk to serve as a coffee table and seating as well as a place to stash out-of-season items
-Over-the-door hangers with pocket organizers, an over-the-chair organizer, or a bedskirt with pockets for shoes, school supplies, books, or other personal items
- Shower caddy to hold personal care items for a walk down a hall or over to the bath area in a suite—and don’t forget shower shoes (flip-flops or slides)
College students who anticipate buying most of their books and dorm things online should consider signing up for a free 6-month trial of Prime Student, an Amazon program that offers free 2-day Prime shipping and some good student-only deals.
Related: 10 "Zero Dollar" Storage Hacks
College Dorm Move-In Tips
For students who will be living in dorms, Tokos also offers a list of college dorm move-in tips:
Lists Are Essential: “Make two packing lists—use the one your college provides as a start for what to bring, then mark off things that don’t apply and personalize your additions.” As you pack, remember that you will have limited space. “Your second list is the one of the items you may need to purchase when you arrive,” she adds.
Sharing Your Stuff: Tokos recommends touching base with your roommate so you can sync your decor styles and also see if you can share items like furniture and appliances.
Stage-Struck: “As you acquire items, set up a staging area to collect all your college-bound items in one place and make packing easier.”
Bigger Isn't Better: It may be tempting to pack all of your stuff in large suitcases, but Tokos advises against this unless you have a way to send them home. “Collapsible containers are best if you need to store them for the year.”
Wrap It Up: Clothes, towels, and other soft items can be used to wrap breakables.
A Stable Label: “Pay attention to school rules for labeling boxes on move-in day and make sure they’re legible and easy to find,” Tokos says. “Often move-in teams deliver your stuff. If it’s labeled correctly, delivery to your room will go much smoother.”
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