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Dorm shopping is one of the most exciting parts of college, but it can be so overwhelming. Which is why I thought I would spill all of my dorm shopping tips, tricks, and advice. 

college dorm shopping

It's no secret that I was way more excited about decorating my dorm room than any other aspect of going to college. I seriously planned my dorm room out obnoxiously early. ?I had so much fun doing it, but I definitely made some mistakes along the way and spent way too much on things I could have gotten a LOT cheaper. 

I don't want you to make the same mistakes I did, so I am going to share my favorite places to shop, what to buy where, my biggest shopping mistakes, and a couple tips and tricks. No pressure to do things exactly the way I did, but I promise you I would never give you bad advice!!   

This post is all about dorm shopping.


1. Amazon

Let's be honest, if you really wanted to you could probably get your entire dorm room from Amazon. They have everything. Decor wise, I would probably stick to other places, but for some really good basics, 100% Amazon. 

Definitely get my favorite mattress topper from Amazon and little gadgets like these magic hangers to maximize your closet space. Of course there's a ton on Amazon, but these are 2 of my favorite finds. 

2. Target

I could probably list 100 things you need from Target for your dorm room, but the first thing that came to mind was the plastic plates and bowls! You aren't really a college student if you don't have these plastic Target dishes ?

You also need a mesh shower caddy. This one from Target is inexpensive and a cute color compared to the shower caddies on other sites. 

3. Dormify

Dormify is really expensive, but it is one of those places that makes that one thing you can't get anywhere else. Because they specialize in everything dorm room, anything on their site will work in your dorm! 

I love their dorm headboards and side tables that are meant to take up minimal space and work with raised beds. I would definitely recommend getting items like these from Dormify. 


I love IKEA for some good inexpensive, organization finds. I had the drawer organizers in my dorm room wardrobe and my roommate had the wire drawers under her bed. I always loved her drawers and wanted to get them myself. 

If you are looking for simple, inexpensive stuff, IKEA will have all of your basics.

5. Urban Outfitters

Urban Outfitters has all things trendy. If you want a cool duvet cover or a cute rug, I would definitely recommend looking through UO, they have tons of options. 

It can be pricey, but their stuff goes on sale all the time, so just keep an eye out! 

6. HomeGoods / TJ Maxx / Marshalls

I LOVE a good HomeGoods find, but it's one of those places where every store is different and I can't link specific items. But I will tell you everything I actually bought for my dorm room from TJ Maxx and HomeGoods so you can hopefully find them yourselves! 

TJ Maxx: throw pillows, magazine holder (for organizing notebooks), and picture frames

HomeGoods: rug, more throw pillows, blankets, fake plants, step stool, large basket (for laundry), acrylic organizers (for bathroom & in drawers)


7. Don't buy toiletry items & cleaning supplies before leaving

I made the mistake of buying all of my shampoo, conditioner, body wash, all purpose cleaner, paper towels, etc. before I left for college. I was so mad because I took up an entire box in the precious cargo space of my parents' car with stuff that I could've bought there. 

Don't forget that there will probably be a Target near your college campus and they will have everything that your Target at home has ?

8. Don't think you need to buy EVERYTHING before move in 

I was under the impression that I needed to have every last detail of my dorm room planned out before move in day. I thought I had to have every pillow, every plant, every picture, all ready to go. 

You can take as long as you want to get everything put together and completely decorated! It took me about 2 weeks until I had everything I needed to finish decorating and organizing. I had friends who didn't finish decorating their room until months into the semester. 

dorm room essentials

9. Don't wait too long to pick out your aesthetic/theme

If you pick out a theme for you dorm room earlier on, you have time to pick out the comforter and decor you want and buy it over time. Buying over time is so important so you don't end up spending $1000 at once ?

I knew I wanted to go with black, white, and gold (shocking, right? ?) and then I was able to watch the comforter I wanted until it went on sale. I also could collect cute decor from HomeGoods if I saw something in there that went with my general look of room. 

10. Don't forget to check multiple stores for different prices

If you shop early enough, you'll have time to check out different stores and make sure you're not paying too much for something you can get on Amazon for a lot less. 

I found that a lot of stuff I wanted to order from places like Dormify and Etsy I could get on Amazon or something similar from Target for cheaper.


11. Talk to your roommates about sharing appliances

The last thing you need is to spend hundreds of dollars on a coffee maker, printer, mini fridge, etc., just to show up to a roommate who also bought all of this stuff. Save yourself some time and money and collaborate with your roommate to find out who is bringing what. 

12. DIY some decor

If you're looking to save some money and add a nice, personal touch, try making some decor yourself. You know I love a good DIY project. You could make your own photo collage or paint some art to hang up. 

13. Make sure you check all the dorm room rules 

Don't forget that dorm rooms have a ton of regulations on what you can and cannot bring. You wouldn't want to show up with all of your candles just to find out you're not allowed to have them. 

Check to make sure any appliance you're buying is allowed before buying it. Most of this information will be available on your school's housing website. 

14. Plan a budget and try to stick to it 

When I planned out my dorm room, I was all over the place. I pretty much just bought whatever I liked whenever I wanted without ever keeping track of it all. Then, when I moved into my apartment I had everything priced out, down to the small details. 

Having a budget is so much better because you will spend time finding stuff you really like without wasting a ton of money buying random stuff. 

This post was all about dorm shopping. 

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