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So, it is time to move out for the first time, or it's time to go back to college.  Probably the most fun part of the move is decorating your bedroom.  Here is a dorm room checklist and design tips to help you along.

dorm room checklist


Lucky for me I have two college students now. One daughter is in her major, and the other just graduated from high school.

I can remember moving to college and designing my dorm room with my best friend.  It was so much fun! But I don't remember using a college packing list because I am not sure they gave us one.

Preparing my daughter for college, and my love for decorating my own dorm room is the reason I wanted to share this dorm room checklist on decorating your room and ideas to help you on your journey.

I hope this college dorm room checklist will help you plan for your student housing decorations from your freshman year to your senior year.

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a commission if you purchase at no cost to you using the links below.  All opinions are all my own.


When you start to plan your space, whether it is your first year or any year, it is always helpful to decide on your inspiration piece.  That could be your bed, a piece of artwork, or a picture of a room you saw on Pinterest or in a round-up post like our College Dorm Decor post.

dorm room checklist pinterest decorating bedrooms

Pinterest is a great place to look for ideas and find college dorm essentials. Each college has different rules for its dorms so before you begin, look at the dorm rules so you don't waste time planning something you cannot do.

Also, consider that dorm rooms are a small space to decorate. You will have to hone your organizational skills.


Once you have found that piece that inspires you, then you can build your color scheme and style.

In my daughter's case, the inspiration piece is this Llama painting, found at Homegoods.  It has a Boho look with neutral colors.

dorm room checklist llama art

It is perfect for this design because initially, my daughter selected eclectic boho-style bedroom pictures on Pinterest.


Now that you have your inspiration piece, start building your bedding design using the dorm room checklist.

Pull some colors from the inspiration piece to use on your bed.

In this case, we decided to keep her tan and white-check duvet add a new white comforter folded at the foot of the bed, along with a white skirt. If you go with solid or dark-colored flat and fitted sheets then you can easily change your duvet later in college. And don't forget a mattress cover and mattress pad.

dorm room checklist

Next, build a statement piece with your pillows.

Layering pillows can make a whole bed design.  You can use one pillow that is the same as your duvet and then add other sizes in solids too.

Then, think about adding one or two statement pillows on the front.  In our case we choose this beautiful hand embroidered “and so the adventure begins” pillow from Nest of Petals on Etsy.

One last thing to check into is the size of the bedding. Many dorm rooms have extra-long twin beds so you will need sheets to fit that size.

dorm room checklist nest of petals pillow



Other than a place to sleep another critical area in your dorm room is your desk.  It is good to create a workstation to help you get organized and hold important documents.

dorm room checklist desk

In our case, we decided that some desk accessories were needed –  like a Rae Dunn pencil holder, magazine holder, a small houseplant, Keurig coffee maker, Amazon Echo (Alexa), and a globe that her sister gave her.

dorm room checklist desk flatlay

Because space in a dorm room is limited, the desk is acting as a coffee station too. The only thing that is missing from her workstation is a desk lamp. Add a lamp to your dorm room essentials.

Also, you can fit a small refrigerator under the desk to one side. A mini fridge can act as a nightstand too.


Remember that Llama print I talked about earlier?  Well, he is not going to be the only piece at the party!

To give the space that collegiate feeling she crafted these cool pennants also.  The bottom one is a monogram of my daughter's initials.

dorm room checklist pennants

And if you want another inexpensive piece that makes a big statement check out this piece of wall art we made from a shower curtain.

If you cut the top of a shower curtain off you can use it as a piece of art.  If you are allowed to hang things with small nails you can add a frame with these wood stripes.


A great way to divide your space and warm it up if you are sharing a dorm room is with a rug.

In our case, we didn't need a rug, but if your room has a solid floor, a rug will make getting out of bed so much more pleasant.  Here are a few of our favorite rugs from Urban Outfitters.


Lastly, let's talk about items for organization.

Consider the space under your bed as a valuable piece of real estate.  Purchase under the bed drawers as we have here for extra bed storage, or if you have a higher bed you can get stack-able drawers or cubes to hold baskets for your clothes.

dorm room checklist under the bed box

Another place to put stackable drawers or cubes is inside your closet.  The main idea is to be creative and use every inch of your dorm wisely.


Depending on your dorm, many students have coffee and snacks in their rooms.  A single-cup Keurig is perfect for this space.

dorm room checklist keurig

The storage bins under your bed or in your closet are a great place to keep your K cups and snacks.

Amazon Echo (Alexa)

Don't forget your Amazon Echo (Alexa).  This small device is very versatile.

My daughter uses her Echo to turn her lamp off at night after she is in bed, as an alarm,  to play music, and even for a sound machine to block out all the noise at night.

It also comes in handy when doing homework!

dorm room checklist amazon echo



With so many lovely ideas to choose from the most important thing to consider when designing your dorm room is to think about what you love and what will make your dorm room feel like home.

Here is your dorm room checklist to help you design a beautiful space for this coming school year. College dorm rooms are so fun to decorate!

College Checklist for decorating your dorm room

Good luck with your college move. Now that you have an overview I have a complete list of college essentials in my dorm room checklist of all checklist. It has a little of everything on the list from an extension cord to laundry detergent. Pretty much a complete college dorm checklist.

What style are you thinking of doing? If you consider a more neutral design then you can change your accessories to different styles each year of college. For example, you can do boho when you live in freshman student housing or cottagecore when you are a sophomore.

Happy Decorating!

If you enjoyed these ideas, please sign up for emails, so you don’t miss out on more fun decorating tips and ideas HERE.

PS:  I came up with a checklist of all checklists.  I believe you will find it helpful.  Check out my checklist of all college dorm checklists of all checklists.



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