I remember what it was like to be a wide eyed freshman, taking on Bed Bath and Beyond armed with a hand full of Pinterest ideas and a dream. Cut to a week after move in day when I realized that half the things I thought were ABSOLUTE NECESSITIES turned into excess clutter in an already cramped shared space.
Second semester, I got my act together and created, what I believe to be, the ultimate dorm at Mississippi State. Personally, I lived in Hathorn (and Cresswell is the exact same), but these tips will carry over into any and all of the residence halls. Follow my tips, and the links in the article, to have the best freshman year ever!
Bedding and Bed Storage
First things first, you WILL need a mattress topper. I know it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you're young and you have slept on your friend's floor tons of times, but this is different. Dorm mattresses are notoriously uncomfortable, and given that your dorm will be your home away from home, it is absolutely paramount that you feel comfortable sleeping in your bed.
The second thing you need to know about your dorm bed is that it does not have a headboard, and as someone who likes to toss and turn and readjust during the night, it is nice to have something cushioned to hit your head against instead of the cinderblock walls. I recommend Pinteresting cheap DIY headboards and you will find some winners that only require some furniture padding (available at Walmart), a large piece of plywood or cardboard, and some fabric. Mount that bad boy with some command hooks and your space will be cute and comfy.
Finally, for the love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, please loft your bed all the way up, you can get a cute stool (Walmart has some faux leather stools with storage that would be perfect. They would even double as extra seating when friends come over).
Then, underneath your newly lofted bed, you have space for two Rubbermaid drawers that fit perfectly. Use one for food storage and one for leggings, t-shirts, and shorts and other foldable things. You can hide this "ugly" by hanging a tension rod and curtains beneath your bed with zip ties, creating a faux bed skirt. I just took a pair of scissors to the curtains I liked to make them the correct length. Just be careful not to roll off the first few mornings!
In my dorm, I had a weird little sink/medicine cabinet/cabinet area and a communal bathroom with our floor. My roommate and I split the medicine cabinet 50/50, I had the left side of the sink and cabinet underneath and she had the right. Once you really get settled in, you realize that this is not enough room for you to store everything you would in this area, so we got creative.
We hung three baskets on each side of the sink using command hooks to create more vertical storage for tall things like straighteners and hairspray. Beneath the sink, we used large command hooks on the inside of the cabinet doors to hold our shower caddy and shower shoes (you will absolutely need these) and then locker organizers to further add vertical storage under the sink.
Honestly, you will never have enough storage, but you can always make the best of it. I would get two shoe racks to place in the closet underneath your clothes. then I would add in one hanging shoe organizer to hold jeans, sweatshirts, and scarves. Another major tip is to use the thin hangers. Once you convert to the velvet hangers over the thick plastic ones, you'll have so much extra space.
Hang things that are nice or wrinkle easily. Command hook (the big ones) your iron and ironing board to the back of the closet. Walmart even sells sticky battery operated lights to help you see in the closet. Pro tip: there will also be a large shelf over your desk, use this to store chunkier folded items. The real key to this is organization. Rely on that big set of drawers under your bed and you should be set.
These things didn't have a real category to fit them in, mostly because they're so small, but will make a major difference in your room.
-Your room will come with a small refrigerator/freezer/microwave and a set of small wooden drawers. In my experience, it is best to go ahead and stack the fridge on top of the drawers. This way you won't have to crouch all the way down to get your leftover OEC from the bottom shelf of the fridge.
-There will be a large chest of drawers in your room for you and your roommate to share, my roomie and I just painted strips of cardboard and wedged those in to split each drawer down the middle. This way no one feels like the odd one out for getting the bottom drawer. It is also nice to put the dresser between the beds and use it like a night stand. Extra points for matching lamps to add a warm cozy feeling to the room (and so you don't have to use that harsh, gross overhead light.
-Tiny tip: grab a bag of coffee beans and a tall vase at the store. Fill the jar up with the beans, and set it in the windowsill so the beans will get warmed by the sun. Now your room will smell like a cozy coffee shop on the cheap.
-On the sliding doors to your closet, command strip up a dry erase board. This will help you have a very visual way of seeing, and being reminded of, your important due dates. Out of sight=out of mind.
-Grab a cheap tension rod and some cute curtains for your window. It's nice to have the extra "soft" texture in your room, but a good pair of blackout curtains are priceless when you're trying to sleep in on a Saturday morning.
- Bring three surge protectors, one for your desk (printer, tv, computer, and desk lamp, one for your sink area, and one for your bed (computer charger, lamp, phone charger, and whatever else you might need).
-Tide pods are SO MUCH EASIER and more CONVENIENT than lugging a huge bottle of detergent and softner. One for a small load, two for a big one. Easy as it can be. Pro tip: get the shout Color Catchers so you can do combined loads without the worry of color transfer.
Freshmen dorms can be scary, but they don't have to be. All you need are a few simple tips and tricks to help you along the way. Welcome to MSU baby Bulldogs!