Southerners don't mess around with dorm room décor, so here's everything you'll need to deck yours out in style.

Vintage Women's Dorm Room
Credit: Getty/FPG/Staff

Before you dive into the joys of college life in the South—full of tailgating, sororities, new friends, and new classes—use our college dorm checklist to make sure you'll be right at home in your new space.


  • Bedding: Preferably tasteful, preferably monogramed, and preferably matching your roommate's set for a cohesive look. Also be sure to invest in a good throw blanket, just in case your room gets chilly at night.
  • Lamps: Lamps can be a focal point in a small space, so they don't necessarily need to be compact or utilitarian. Buy something that fits your taste (whether it be modern or more traditional), and get two: one for your bedside table, and one for your desk.
  • Area rug: Dormitory floors are often covered in cold, hard tile. An inexpensive throw rug can warm up the space in a flash; it can also add much-needed texture and color to your room.
  • Curtains: While your room will typically come furnished with cheap mini blinds, a good set of curtains can make your window appear larger, and will help the room feel stylish and cozy. If your room gets a lot of light (lucky you!), a curtain set can also help keep it cooler on blistering Southern afternoons.
  • Art and décor: Just because you're moving into a dorm room doesn't mean that you have to stick with tacky posters and bulletin boards; scope out local vintage shops for inexpensive art that's colorful and unique. Also consider adding some live décor, like leafy houseplants.
  • Storage and organizational supplies: Dorm storage is notoriously limited, so be sure to measure your dorm room's closet and under-bed areas before purchasing these items. Stick with handy basics like stackable plastic tubs, plastic drawers, shoe racks, etc.


  • Bath linens: Don't go overboard with too many towel sets. They take up a lot of valuable space, so consider only purchasing what you'll need on a weekly basis. Also consider having yours monogrammed, so that they won't get mixed up with your roommate's sets.
  • Bathrobe: Avoid packing that threadbare robe you've had (and loved) for years. Other people in your dorm will see you going to and from the shower in your robe, so get something warm, comfy, and stylish.
  • Flip-Flops: Get a durable and fast-drying set.
  • Shower caddy: Invest in a caddy that drains like a charm and easily holds all your essentials.

Kitchen & Dining

  • Mini fridge: Feel free to invest in one good fridge with your roommate—keep in mind, however, that they're smaller on the inside than you might expect, so evaluate your needs before splitting this expense.
  • Microwave: You won't want to eat all your meals in the university cafeteria, so get a small microwave for late-night meals and heating up leftovers.
  • Dishware: Make sure you have at least two sets of dishware (cups, plates, glasses, and utensils) for yourself and a guest.

Laundry & Cleaning

  • Mesh laundry baskets: These should be lightweight, offer sturdy handles to sling over your shoulder, and fold up when not needed. There are tons of colorful (but bulky) canvas options on the market, but trust us: Go for baskets that are as light and compact as possible.
  • Laundry detergent and softener: Avoid heavy jugs in favor of space-saving pods and dryer sheets.
  • All-purpose cleaner: Get an all-natural spray cleaner that's powerful enough to wipe down sticky desk surfaces and sink areas.
  • Clean sponges and rags: for both deep cleaning and dusting.


  • Small flat-screen TV
  • Power strips: The typical dorm room doesn't have many outlets, so be sure to arm yourself with plenty of surge-proof power strips to keep all your electronics plugged in and ready to go.