I never had the opportunity to test out dorm living myself as a young adult, but I clearly remember a grade 12 field trip to UVIC where we had the opportunity to spend the night in dorms there. The room and building looked exactly as they are portrayed in movies and that experience was one of my favourite high school memories.

I love that there are so many options for students to create a space that makes them feel at home while they’re away from home. There’s no need to live in a cold and sterile box when you can add colour, style and warmth to make your dorm room a home away from home. Read on for some dorm room must haves to optimize your small space and be functional and inviting.

Furniture with storage space

deskDorm rooms vary from school to school, and while many come pre-furnished with a bed and/or desk, many are just an empty space. To maximize your space and allow for extra storage find yourself a bedframe with drawer’s underneath and even a headboard with shelving for books or special keepsakes or pictures from home.

In a small space you’ll want as many storage options as possible to stow away all your studying necessities, such as pens, paper, highlighters and notebooks. A desk with drawers will help keep all your school supplies organized and on hand for homework and studying. You may even want a place for your secret stash of snacks and treats to get you through those cram sessions. In limited space like a dorm room, a desk can also double as a vanity for doing your hair and make-up for a night out with friends.

Shelving is your friend

wall shelfYou can make a small space stylish and functional by taking advantage of the wall space.

This means adding shelving to your walls to help you keep everything organized and functional, and you can find a multi-purpose shelf with hooks underneath for jackets, sweaters, purses and bags. To store smaller items such as cosmetics, jewelry, cables and cords and more, you can add some fun fabric or wicker storage boxes to the shelves.

A comfortable chair

office chairNo dorm room, home office, or study space is complete without a comfortable chair. You’re going to want to find something with padding, arm rests and great manoeuverability. Not only will it act as your study chair, but also your paper writing chair, your visitors chair and possibly make-up/hair chair. This chair will be getting a lot of use out of it and it needs to be practical and durable as well as stylish.

You can also find some great chairs covered in a variety of coloured and patterned fabrics to best suit your style and décor. Living in a dorm room doesn’t have to be bland, in fact I encourage you to make your space as fun and welcoming as possible, so you’ll enjoy being in it.

Filing cabinets equal more storage

filing cabinetFiling cabinets might seem like something only people of your parent’s generation own, but in fact they serve a great purpose and these days they’re not such an eyesore. University students living in a dorm room are limited by space which means you’ll want as much storage as you can possibly get. Filing cabinets will give you optimal storage space and help you keep your new and old assignments and essays organized.

Another perk to owning a filing cabinet is that many have the option of locking drawers. Whether you have a dorm room to yourself or share with a roommate, having a safe place to lock away valuable items is a great feature to have.

Extra seating if you have the space

futonOne of the fun and exciting things about dorm living is having friends come visit. This may be just to hang out or to get ready for a night out together, and this is where extra seating is a must if you can swing it. If you’re tight on space something smaller like a cube style ottoman or bean bag chair would be the perfect option.

If you’re lucky and you have some extra floor space, a small futon would be fantastic. They are multi-purpose which is always important in smaller areas as they can turn into a bed for any overnight visitors. They’re typically available in a variety of colours, patterns and fabrics as well which allows you to have it blend in with the rest of your rooms style.

Personalize with art and picture frames

picture frameWhen I think of dorm rooms I think of boring and bland carpets and walls. A great way to personalize your space and add some depth and colour is by decorating your walls with some art pieces or picture frames of family and friends.

Making your dorm room feel like home with familiar faces and artwork that you love is also a great tool to help ward off any homesickness.

Storage baskets for everything

storage basketsWhen you are living tiny as I like to call it, there is no such thing as too many storage baskets. They come in so many sizes you can find one to fit almost any space and this means you can make the most out of any nook and cranny.

They’re perfect for storing seasonal clothing, old textbooks and schoolwork, accessories for school or personal use and they’re also great to store everyday items like toiletries and make-up. Since dorm living means a shared bathroom, you can make that experience easier by simply having a designated basket with your all your necessities like shampoo and soap.

Dorm living can be a whole lot of fun and a time in your life where amazing memories are made. Making the most out of your small space, shared or not, will make daily life on campus less stressful and give it a warm and welcoming feel.

Check out all the furniture you can use to set up your dorm on Best Buy right now.

Main image from Summer of Shred