Designing a Dorm Room You’ll Be Happy Living in: Part II, Your Desk & Nightstand

          This first note is really to say that I do not use my desk in the conventional sense: I do all of my work on my bed and use my desk as more of a shelf and storage unit and therefore do not have a lot of advice for people who want it as a work space (though maybe some of my advice will apply).

          A typical dorm desk consists of three components: The drawers, the desk, and the shelf. It is important to use all three components since your desk takes up a chunk of the room you won’t get back (and at least at my school, you can’t get the desk removed…I tried).

          For the drawers, I store my filing systems for all of my classes (past and present), my stationary, and my ‘non-everyday technology’. Basically, I put things I access from time to time but nothing that I use frequently.

          The desk portion I use mostly as a countertop; however, I keep my textbooks on the section of the desk underneath the shelf so I can utilize all of the space I have available. You may be thinking ‘what do you need a countertop space for?’ and my answer is that I like to cook food  (because my college has a terrible caf) and so when I am preparing muffins for the oven or cutting up meat for the microwave I like to have a flat empty surface that’s not my bed to work on (and that I can wipe with a cleaning wipe to easily clean)

          The shelf is the space that I use the most on my desk simply because the way I have my room arranged, I can access the things on the shelf from my bed. Therefore, I keep all of the supplies I need for doing homework on my shelf. I have cups with different types of pens, pencils, and highlighters. I also have hand sanitizer, scissors, a stapler, and a cool accent lamp (though I will discuss lighting in the third part of this series).

          One of my favorite things on my desk is an empty picture frame. If you are like me and enjoy making lists, using a dry erase marker on the glass of the frame allows for me to make lists and can see them while I work. It is also a cute idea for a graduation gift if you write on the back of the frame (but more on that in my graduation gift post coming up).

          The back of my desk is right at the foot of my bed and therefore I see it all the time as I am in my bed. I personally use it for all the letters, drawings, etc. that I receive while I’m away from home which gives my room a little personality; however, you could put pictures, posters, a small tapestry…this is a very underutilized space that I suggest you use to add some personality to your room

          The conundrum of the nightstand. At home, my nightstand has everything I needed to get ready for the day and everything I need at night (You know: lotion, vitamins, hairbrush, headphones, etc.) . It was easily my most used piece of furniture. So how do you put a nightstand in a dorm room? You don’t. What I did instead is that I put my mini fridge by my bed and then found a really cool drawer at a thrift shop and put all of my stuff in the drawer on top of the fridge (you can see a picture in my post about my dorm). Also, find a magnetic hook for your keys to put on the fridge.

So this is all I have for this post. If you have questions, feel free to email. If you have other tips, put them in the comments.


Planning your Dorm Room to make Move-In Day a Breeze

These are just a few tips about moving into a college dorm based off of my experience and so obviously does not apply to every person and every college situation:

-Know what you have: Find out what furniture is included in your dorm room and the dimensions of everything so you know what you are working with. Sometimes it is included on the college website and other times it will take emailing the head of housing to get this information.

-Figure out everything you actually need so you do not over pack: if you over pack, you will have inevitably have clutter and you will be the messy roommate right off the bat. You will underestimate how small the room is especially since you will be living with another person. My system worked really well so I will share it with you:

1. Know how many drawers/ storage spaces you have and the dimensions of those spaces

2. If you are bringing extra storage, such as drawers for under your bed, go ahead and pack whatever you are going to store in them when you are packing for college. If you already have those things where you want them to go, it will make unpacking so much easier.

3. With all the other drawers and storage spaces, physically make a list of where everything will go. For example, I have a dresser with 6 drawers and so I did a list for each drawer of what would be inside it (you do not have to be ultra-specific even something as simple as “cookware” or “game drawer” will be helpful with planning everything out).

-Anything that can be a storage space, make a storage space. I have these two ottomans I use for extra seating/a place for my back-pack but they also hold my towels, sheets, and blankets. There is also space, if you have an armoire type closet, on top for either small containers or in my case I keep my keyboard there. For every container you bring, you need to ask yourself two questions: where will it go and what will go in it.

-Most schools require you to make labels for all the things you will be moving. If it isn’t required for your college, I still highly recommend making a label with the following: first and last name, dorm, room number, phone number. Also, the more fun they look, the more effective they will be (mine had owls on them).

-Keep one of your bins from move in day under your bed towards the back so that you can store a few extra things such as a crock pot or a choir robe that you didn’t account a place for.

-Remember that it is not the end of the world if you forget to pack something. Surely there is a store near your school that you or even your parents can go to get whatever you need. In the case of packing for college; it is better to under pack than over pack.

Anyway, if you have any questions feel free to email and if you have any additional tips you can leave them in the comments