20 Dorm Essentials That Will Last You All 4 Years of College

Some stuff is worth the investment.

Keep in mind: Price and stock could change after publish date, and we may make money from these links.
July 24, 2019

Photo By: Jennie Andrews Photography

Photo By: Faith Blakeney

Duvet Cover

Comforters seem like a good idea at first, but trust us on this one: duvets are the way to go. Invest in a proper duvet insert and a simple-yet-stylish cover, and you'll be set for slumber for the next four years. Tip: Go ahead and purchase a queen-sized duvet instead of a twin or full. If you plan to move on to a larger bed, buying a smaller duvet is just money down the drain.

Buy It: Urban Outfitters, $89 - $129

Area Rug

Love your small area rug from the dorm but not sure that it works in your new, bigger apartment? No need to fret. Jump on the layered-rug trend and continue to love your rug through the coming years.

Buy It: Urban Outfitters, $14 - $59

Table Lamp

A good lamp will stand the test of time and light your way through the trials and tribulations of your college years. Find a metallic or neutral-based fixture and take that good lighting with you wherever you go.

Buy It: Amazon, $26.99

Shower Curtain

A quality shower curtain can last you a long time. This all-over peach number is basically built-in artwork, don't you think? Note: A shower curtain can last you a long time, but a shower liner is a whole other story.

Buy It: Urban Outfitters, $34 (Originally $39)

Storage Basket

Use them for your shoes, use them for blankets, use them for your dirty clothes — whatever it is, we know you'll get some serious mileage out of woven storage baskets.

Buy It: World Market, $34.99

Storage Ottoman

From books to blankets, there's nothing a stylish storage ottoman can't hide. This soft, gray beauty is the perfect place to store your goods and rest your feet after a long day studying away at the library.

Buy It: Target, $17.00

Desk Chair

While most dorms provide students with desk chairs, they're often far from stylish. Choose one in a neutral hue, and you'll be able to carry that chair from your dorm straight into your first apartment.

Buy It: Target, $59.99

Full-Length Mirror

Every college kid can benefit from self-reflection. Reflect on your ensemble du jour and your life choices in tandem by investing in a full-length mirror. Opt for an over-the-door mirror made from durable material in a hue that goes with everything.

Buy It: Kirkland's, $26.99

Bathroom Accessory Set

Solid vanity-top accessories (toothbrush holder, soap dispenser, etc.) are great items to invest in for the long haul. You could purchase a neon green set for the year, but if you buy a sturdy, sophisticated set, it will last you beyond your collegiate experience.

Buy It: Overstock.com, $16.68 and up

Throw Blankets

Throw blankets are a no-brainer for any home, and dorm rooms and college apartments are no exception. This gray chenille number is gorgeous and ensures your space will be cozy 365 days out of the year. With regular wash and care, throw blankets can last you far beyond four years.

Buy It: Dormify, $39.00

Rolling Cart

While in the dorms, a bar cart creates ideal storage for snacks, toiletries or even school supplies. As the years pass and you grow older, you can graduate said bar cart to bigger, better and boozier things.

Buy It: Michaels, $29.99 (Originally $59.99)

Memo Board

Memo boards are timeless additions to any workstation, so why not invest in one that will last? This minimalist board is such a sophisticated option, and it doesn’t give off that fresh-into-college vibe whatsoever. You can graduate and bring this puppy straight into your first cubicle, no problem.

Buy It: Target, $24.99

Coffee Mugs

College requires a copious amount of coffee. Make your mugs count, because you're going to be seeing a lot of them.

Buy It: Crate & Barrel, $18.95 (Set of 4)


Do you have what it takes to keep a plant alive for four years? Are you up for the challenge? If so, we salute you in your efforts, and if not, you're not alone. One way to ensure that your dorm plant makes it is to cheat the system with a fake plant. No shame in that gardening game.

Buy It: Target, $22.99


With the stacks and stacks of books you'll be accumulating during your college career, bookends become such a necessity. We love this playful yet sophisticated brass bird set for the dorm room and beyond.

Buy It: Target, $29.99 (Set of 2)

Photo Display

Choose a sleek way to display your photos throughout your college career. This gold, hanging metal grid is perfect for clipping up and arranging your favorites (then changing them on a whim).

Buy It: World Market, $19.99

Wall Art

Add a new, one-of-a-kind piece every semester, and before you know it, you'll have a visual display that represents the various stages of your life while in school.

Buy It: Society6, $24.99 - $70.99

Catchall Tray

A catchall will always be useful, so you might as well purchase one that you absolutely adore.

Buy It: Amazon, $15.14

Beverage Rack

A beverage dispenser will come in handy for all types of drink storage while in college (think: La Croix). And you'll be ready to swap out water for beer once you move into that first apartment (assuming you're officially 21).

Buy It: Amazon, $15.69

Coffee Table Books

Hit up local bookstores and use your student discount while you can! Coffee table books (and books, in general) are such essential staples in a home, and freshmen year is a prime time to start building your collection. Prepare for all the nostalgia when you flip through your favorite college read 10, 15 and even 30 years later.