Even though it feels like forever ago, it has only a few months since move-in day. Let me just say that it has definitely been a whirlwind! As I have 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, and (2) I’m on a tight budget.
But since all colleges students are tight on time and money, I can’t say that I’m the only student in this situation, nor am I the only one not surprised at the numerous dorm room hacks that abound the internet these days. For many students, creativity reigns king when finding solutions to problems, mainly because we are required to think outside the box since we are low on money and supplies.
Before I moved in, I thought I had seen all the dorm room hacks that existed, but no one could have been more surprised than myself when I was able to create ten additional unique ones! These dorm room hacks have made my room so much nicer to live in, so hopefully they will help you too!
1) Use Over-the-Door Hangers to Hang Up a Curtain Rod
The first dorm that I lived in had a GINORMOUS window. While this was something that I was originally excited about (after all, who doesn’t like a bit of natural sunlight in the room), a continuous succession of early morning wake-up calls due to the sun made me quickly realized that I would need to quickly get a pair of curtains. Fast.
One trip to Walmart later, I was the proud owner of the largest tension rod that they sold…which too late I realized 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, 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 still hang up my curtains without needing the tension rod to be attached to the walls.
2) Use a Curtain Cover Up the Built-in Closet
The closets for every college 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 in the closet makes my room feel a lot smaller and messier. To fix this, 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. These are super cheap and definitely made my room look nicer.
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 almost never used it for it’s intended purchase, I do think that it 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 purchasing by clicking here.)
Since I wasn’t able to return it, and I had actually purchased one of the more expensive ones, I began looking for a different way to use it.
About the same time, I was also looking for something to organize my paper plates, towels, and utensils. With it’s multiple different sections and pockets, I realized that my bedside caddy would make the perfect organizer for these. Even better, the flap that would generally go under the mattress could easily be placed under the refrigerator (as long as it was on a table) or over the mini fridge for easy access to it!
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. 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, even though it made the chair look like it had a pair of socks on each leg.
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 had four strings of pictures that I surround with a “picture frame” made out of washi tape, which made it look a lot nicer than it would have without the frame. Plus, washi tape is extremely cheap and you can adjust how big or small you want it (unlike a regular picture frame). If you’re interested in reading more of my dorm room must-haves, click here to read this post that I wrote about it.
6) Washi tape medicine cabinet
In the first two dorms that I lived in, I had a medicine cabinet above the sink, which I loved since it was an extra place to store stuff, and helped to free up precious counter space. 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, while also covering up the rust and decorating it in a colorful pattern. Afterwards, I was also able to place a paper-thin marker board in the cabinet, which is perfect for writing inspirational quotes, detailed reminders, or notes for your roommate.
Related: Ten Items You Never Thought to Bring to College
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 definite 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. Using my suitcase as a safe gave me a HUGE amount of space to use, plus 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 that we spent hours searching for, trying to find the perfect one with the perfect pictures, 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, all while re-using something that many people think is trash.
9) Using garbage bags to tie clothes hangers together for move-in/move-out
When moving to college, some people bring their clothes hangers from home to save money (like me), rather than buying them new and in a box. But if you’ve never tried to pack clothes hangers before, then take my word when I say that it is hard; they get tangled up easily! To stop this, I tied them up together with plastic grocery bags, which helped keep them together and in place when moving in/out of the dorms.
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, so 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! These can be so much cheaper and it’s easier to find designs that you like (especially if you’re looking for animated movie characters or common themes, such as the ocean).
Hopefully you can take advantage of some of these 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 email@example.com. I would love to hear from you!