If you play your cards right, you’ll be able to keep pieces you bought for your very first year of college long after you graduate. This is best achieved by ignoring every cliché dorm room checklist and coupons for bright turquoise and fuschia polyester bedding—you know the type—and instead being more intentional with every item you purchase for your brand new space.
Sound a tad overwhelming (not to mention, expensive)? It can be, but it doesn’t have to. Between stressing over the possibility of contracting a fatal disease from the mystery meat parading as “chicken” in the dining hall and worrying if you and your roommate are going to kill each other within a week of move-in day, there’s enough to overthink when it comes to your first year of college without factoring in dorm room decor. Which is why we’ve put together a list of easy upgrades on all the dorm room classics to consider instead.
Put the “Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost” print-out down—these are the dorm decor pieces worth spending a bit more on for an elevated space you’ll actually want to come home to.
Instead of: Corkboard or Whiteboard
Try: White Wire Wall Grid Shelf, Etsy, $39.99+
Pin sentimental mementos, class schedules, and other daily reminders up on this contemporary grid. Thanks to its multifunctional nature, you’ll be able to use this handy tool for years to come as a catch-all for your future home workspace. This particular find comes with free clips, but try buying a set of uniform-looking ones (like these gold ones from Scandinavian retailer Hay) to personalize your grid and make it look more elevated.
Instead of: Command Hooks
Try: Eric Tine Bent Metal Wall Hooks, West Elm, $18
Not only do they look cheap, but command hooks are a one-use-only kind of deal. Provided you’re allowed to make small holes in your wall, opt for something a little longer-lasting and a lot more stylish. Wall hooks like these candy-colored West Elm ones can hold much more weight for your accessories, coats, and hanging wall art than flimsy command hooks can.
Not allowed to ruin the masterpiece that is your dorm room wall by screwing in hooks? Try this sleek over-the-door hook from Urban Outfitters.
Instead of: Plastic Desk Lamp
Try: Gold-Dipped Task Lamp, Anthropologie, $98
Speaking from personal experience, you want to steer clear of those $20 plastic-shade desk lamps at all costs because a) the plastic can melt and rapidly turn into a safety hazard and b) they’re ugly. Instead, choose a more artful piece you can easily transition to your nightstand or living room side table post-grad; these gold-dipped lamps are simple and provide plenty of light for late night studying. They also won’t stick out like a sore thumb against the rest of your stylish decor.
Instead of: Wire Mesh Laundry Hamper
Try: Jute Laundry Basket, H&M Home, $34.99
Unless you are Elle Woods, chances are your dorm room isn’t very big. Which means that, when closet space is precious and divided up between you and your roomie, you can’t hide unattractive mesh hampers behind closed doors. For an option you’ll actually want to display, choose something neutral in a woven material like this jute H&M basket. Make sure it has handles so you can easily tote it down to the laundry room.
Instead of: Plastic or Fabric Shower Caddy
Instead of: Dingy Blinds
Try: Knotted Window Curtain, Urban Outfitters, $59
Whether you realize it or not, curtains really can make or break a room. Dingy, old blinds immediately make your space look worn-out. Try framing your windows with something longer, like these super simple blush curtains, to heighten your ceilings and pull the whole room together.
Pro tip: They also work well as makeshift room dividers if you move out of your dorm room to a tiny studio apartment. The simple design and quality cotton material will never go out of style.
See more college-related stories:
These 5 Plants Will Brighten Up Any Dorm Room
10 Trader Joe’s Snacks for College Students
Dorm Room Decor That’s As Chic As it Is Affordable
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