Even though it feels like forever ago, it has only a few months since move-in day. Let me just say that it’s definitely been a whirlwind! As I’ve worked on making my dorm room my home-away-from-home, I have gained a deep appreciation for the abundance of dorm room hacks on Pinterest because (1) I don’t have a lot of time to run to Walmart any time I need something, (2) I’m on a tight budget, and (3) I don’t have a car, so it would be difficult to get to the store even if I wanted to.
But since all colleges students are tight on time and money, and transportation is a common issue (even for students that do have cars), I can’t say that I’m the only student in this situation. That why I’m not at all surprised about the numerous dorm room hacks that abound the internet these days. For many students, creativity reigns king when finding solutions to problems that arise in college. How could we not when we are low on both money and supplies?!
That’s why I’ve put together a list of some dorm room hacks that I’ve been using in the dorms for moving in/out, decor, and living in the dorms in general!
1) Use Over-the-Door Hangers to Hang Up a Curtain Rod
When living in an older dorm, more dorm room hacks are needed, and that’s exactly what happened my freshman year. The dorm I was living in had a GINORMOUS window (about four or five feet long), and although I was originally excited about the amount of natural light it would give me, I quickly realized I would need some curtains.
Of all the rooms in the dorm, why did I have the one facing East? Early morning wake-up calls from the sun were not appreciated!
One trip to Walmart later, I was the proud owner of the largest tension rod that they sold…which was just two inches too short of fitting my window, even when extended to its longest length. Since I didn’t have any way of making the distance shorter between the walls shorter, nor the tension rod longer, I decided to solve the problem by placing two over-the-door hangers on opposite sides of the blind box. When I did this, I could rest the curtain rod on the upturned pieces, allowing me to hang up my curtain rod and curtains without needing the tension rod to be attached to the walls.
2) Use a Curtain Cover Up the Built-in Closet
Now for a decor hack: The closets in every dorm are going to be different, but from what I have seen, they are usually built-in wardrobes without doors. To me, always seeing the general hodge-podge of my clothes and storage makes my room feel a lot smaller and messier, and I find it extremely distracting when I’m trying to work on homework. To solve this problem, I hung up a curtain over the wardrobe (with a tension rod) to hide it, as well as to add a splash of color to the room.
3) A Bedside Caddy as a Minifridge Food Caddy
One of the first things that many incoming freshmen buy for their dorm room is a bedside caddy, and since I quickly realized that I didn’t need it, and couldn’t return it, I decided that I would need to re-purpose it. (I strongly believe that bedside caddy is something that students should wait to buy until after dorm move-in. In fact, you can read my entire list of things to wait to purchase by clicking here.)
After a bit of thought, I realized that the caddy, which was full of multiple pockets and dividers, would be the perfect thing to keep my paper plates, towels, and utensils in, keeping them easily organized and accessible. Even better, the flap of the caddy that would usually go under the mattress could easily be placed under the refrigerator (which I set on a table) so that the actual caddy could hang over the side of the table, allowing me to just reach in and grab whatever I needed.
4) Using Felt to Cover Chair Legs
Let’s be honest, unless you are living in some high-style dorm room, your furniture is going to be old and the floor is going to be hard tiles. Even worse, whenever you move furniture around, it creates really loud and annoying sounds.
At least, this was how it was for me in the first dorm I lived in. I could never re-arrange my furniture–or even move my chair–without it sounding like Chewbacca was in the room.
In order to not disturb my roommate and neighbors with my Wookiee-speaking desk chair, I got a cheap 25-cent piece of felt, cut it into four pieces, and placed it on the bottom of the chair legs, securing it with hairbands. If you can find cheap felt pads somewhere, that can work as well; but on a college budget, a 25-cent piece of felt serves the same purpose; the downside was that it made the chair look like it had a pair of socks on each leg, so if you’re going for a fancier room, this might not be the dorm room hack for you, but it can work in a pinch.
5) Washi Tape Picture Frame
One common way of decorating your dorm room is with pictures. Although this can be great, these pictures can easily feel begin to feel messy, unstructured, or isolated on the great expanse of your dorm room wall. That’s why one of my dorm room must-haves is rolls of washi tape.
For me, I have four strands of pictures that I surround with a “picture frame” made out of washi tape, which made the pictures look a lot more structured and nicer than that it did without the frame. Plus, washi tape is extremely cheap, comes in multiple designs, and you can adjust how big or small you want the frame, unlike a regular picture frame. If you’re interested in reading more of my dorm room must-haves, you can click here.
6) Washi tape medicine cabinet
In the first two dorms that I lived in, I had a medicine cabinet above the sink. I loved having the medicine cabinet since it was an extra place to store stuff, and helped to free up what little counter space I had. But as much as I loved having this amenity, it didn’t mean that I loved the rust that came inside of it.
To fix the problem, I once again sought the use of washi tape, which not only comes in many different styles, but also sizes. I used this washi tape to cover the entire interior of the cabinet, which not only covered up the rust, but also decorated the cabinet in a colorful pattern.
7) Suitcase Safe
One of my primary concerns when moving to college was how I was going to keep any valuables I had safe. After all, it’s not like I could just go out to the store and replace anything that got stolen.
Well, I could, but it definitely wouldn’t be cheap.
Whether it is your laptop, tablet, or spare cash, having a way to keep your valuables safe is a must, but finding a dorm room safe big enough to store these valuables–while also staying on budget–is extremely hard; believe me, I tried.
However, I realized that I could use my suitcase as a safe by placing my valuables in there and then securing it with a TSA lock. My suitcase gave me a HUGE amount of space to use, and it never looked out of the ordinary.
8) Calendar Pages As Posters
We begin each new year with a new calendar, and the old one gets thrown out, never to be thought of again.
However, what if you could re-use the pictures from that wall calendar? Years and years ago, I realized that I could do this, and began putting them up on my wall in a checkerboard pattern using wall putty. My friends often clamor over how much they love this idea, and it made my dorm room look amazing, while also re-using something that many people think is trash.
9) Use Garbage Bags to Tie Clothes Hangers Together
When moving to college, some people buy their clothes hangers brand new and in a box, ready to go. Others, like me, do their best to save some money by bring their old ones from home. But if you’ve never tried to pack clothes hangers before, then you know it is hard. They get tangled up easily, slide around everywhere, and make the process of moving in or out much more frustrating. To stop the hangers from doing this, I tied them together with plastic grocery bags by twisting the bags into a rope and looping them through the center of the hanger. Doing this helped keep the hangers together and made moving in and out of the dorms much more easy.
10) Use a Curtain as a Tapestry
Everybody loves tapestries in college; after all, they’re like a ginormous fabric poster with your favorite characters, quotes, movies, or designs! The only downside is how expensive they are. Instead of breaking the bank for a regular tapestry, think about looking online or in-stores for curtains (shower curtains or regular curtains) with a design that you like and hang this up instead! This is not only much cheaper, but if you’re looking for animated movie characters or common themes (such as the ocean) they can also be easy to find.
Hopefully you can take advantage of some of these hacks and tricks in your own dorm room,and I would love to hear how they work out for you! Plus, if you’re looking for some ideas for your own dorm room, check out my tour of my freshman dorm room and suite!
P.S. Do you have any questions or comments? Please write me a letter back (in the comments) or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you!