Ah, the dorm room — the ultimate double-edged sword. On the one hand, this is your new home away from home, a chance to start fresh in a kind of comfortable purgatory between home life and complete independent adulthood. On the other hand, if you’re going to school at a typical college or university in the United States (and, well, most everywhere else) your lodgings are probably not going to be exactly premium.
There are absolutely ways to make these new less-than-comfortable surroundings into something resembling home — as long as you know what you’re up against. What’s always worked for me? That crucial pre-semester IKEA run-through: an afternoon or evening where you take your time meandering through the affordable retailer’s offerings and trying to figure out what they have there that can work where you’re headed.
Focus on the things IKEA does best: personality, storage and innovation. The key to decorating a dorm is focusing on things that are both temporary and statement-making — remember that you’ll have strict rules surrounding what you can and can’t do in your new space. But sharp dorm-room regulation can be the mother of creative decorating invention.
The obvious things you’ll be looking for in IKEA? Storage solutions, for sure — ways to make your tiny space (and closet, ugh) feel much bigger. Under-bed containers and closet organizational tools are essential buys. IKEA is also tops for textiles: the sheets are amazingly soft and durable, the duvet covers are colorful and fun, and the towels are also amazing. Don’t forget to grab a rug or two, which will add plenty of punch to your standard-issue dorm carpet. Want to also add some rustic charm? Grab IKEA’s signature faux sheepskin — great for use as a super-soft rug, a chair cushion or a little something extra on your bed.
One of my favorite little tricks is to buy small wall-mounted mirrors at IKEA and arrange them on the wall in random patterns using double-sided tape. These are a little more dynamic than whatever you’re going to grab at the campus poster sale, and they’re functional, too — mirrors add the illusion of more square footage in a tiny space, and you can use them to see yourself, of course. Best part? They easily peel off the wall at the end of the school year.
IKEA is so great for the extra little bits and bobs you didn’t realize you needed — picture frames, plants and the like. Oh, and don’t forget you’re going to college to work! Keep your eyes peeled for the desk accessories that will make studying and writing papers a total breeze.
Ultra pro tip? Do not skip over the children’s section! Here you’ll find some last-second accessories that are both whimsical and functional, perfect for your new abode. Keep your eyes open for sweet lamps and fun storage solutions that have a bit more personality than the ones marketed towards full-blown adults.
Remember, shopping to stock your dorm room should be fun! Take the time to wander and be creative. Good luck!
The Colorful Rug
This will definitely make your floor more comfortable — for bare feet and color-loving eyes.
IKEA ÅKERKULLA Rug, $29.99 at IKEA.
The Workhorse Hangers
Keep clothes in good shape (and organized!) with sleek black hangers.
IKEA BAGIS Clothes Hanger in Black, $.39 for 4 at IKEA.
The Bare-Bones Underbed Storage
A sneaky way to get some extra under-bed storage — great for shoes or off-season clothes.
IKEA SAMLA Box in Clear, $8.99 at IKEA.
Amazingly soft and durable enough to last your whole college career (any maybe even post-grad studies), these extra-long sheets fit dorm beds like a dream.
IKEA DVALA Sheet Set in White (also available in red, beige, navy blue, black and green), $19.99 at IKEA.
The Bath Towels
Start college fresh with new (super-soft) bath towels.
IKEA ÅFJÄRDEN Bath Towel in Dark Blue, $4.99 - $14.99 at IKEA.
The Trash Can
Gets the job done with cool minimal style.
IKEA FNISS Wastepaper Basket, $1.49 at IKEA.
The Be-Seen Storage Solution
Perfect for pens (or makeup brushes.)
IKEA NIDELVA Storage Tin with Lid, $3.99 for two at IKEA.
The Perfect Boxes for Stacking
Will look great as a storage solution on a bookshelf, stacked neatly on the floor or on your desk.
IKEA KVITTRA Box with Lid in Black, $8.99 at IKEA.
Just add double-sided tape and imagine the possibilities of these honeycomb-shaped mirrors.
IKEA HÖNEFOSS Mirror Set, $14.99 in IKEA.
The Letter Tray
For organizing term papers and study guides.
IKEA DOKUMENT Letter Tray in Pink, $8.99 at IKEA.
The Magazine File
For keeping your US Weekly and Vogue back issues organized.
IKEA TJENA Magazine File in Pink, $3.99 for 2 at IKEA.
The Upgraded Laundry Solution
For keeping dirty laundry in check.
IKEA HJÄLMAREN Laundry Bag with Stand in White, $34.99 at IKEA Stores.
The Potted Plant
Bring some life and color into that room!
IKEA PHALAENOPSIS Plant, $7.99 in IKEA stores.
The Quirky Underbed Box
Increased storage with style.
IKEA PYSSLINGAR Underbed Storage Box, $9.99 at IKEA stores.
The Book End
For keeping textbooks in check.
IKEA SKRIBENT Bookend, $4.99 at IKEA.
The Work Lamp
This cool minimal LED study lamp kinda makes the odd all-nighter less horrible, no?
IKEA HÅRTE LED Work Lamp in Black and Silver, $19.99 at IKEA.
The Faux Sheepskin
The easiest way to bring a little soft comfort into the dorm.
IKEA TEJN Faux Sheepskin, $9.99 in IKEA stores.
The Duvet Cover
Instant room brightener!
IKEA TOFSVIVA Duvet Cover and Pillowcases, $29.99 at IKEA.
The Picture Frame
Pictures of high school friends (and your beloved pets) go in here.
IKEA TOLSBY Frame for 2 Pictures, $.99 at IKEA Stores.
The Personal Noticeboard
Keep track of your life (with style).
IKEA UPPVISA Noticeboard Set, $7.99 at IKEA stores.
WATCH: Ultimate College Bedroom Makeover
sponsored by IKEA