How To Create A Minimalist Dorm That Makes College Life Simple

how to create a minimalist dorm room


College life can get busy between classes, studying, and socializing. Responsibilities can quickly add up to stress when trying to juggle everything, but creating a minimalist dorm room can help. A minimalist dorm room is clean and clutter free, helping you maintain mental focus, with a little décor that makes you feel at home.

ryans tiny house

Hi, I’m Ryan

Living in a tiny dorm room means clutter can be a real challenge if you let it get away from you. In my college days, minimalism meant I had less things cluttering my dorm room and mental headspace, which helped keep the stress at bay.

ryan mitchell simple living expert

Why A Minimalist Dorm Is Ideal For Students

Why A Minimalist Dorm Is Ideal For Students

Creating a minimalist dorm helps you to build a relaxing place to unwind from the noise of college. The practice centers around only keeping the things in your life that you truly need. This can be very helpful when moving to college — creating a minimalist dorm is a very wise move for many reasons.

what is minimalist living

A Minimalist Dorm Helps You Focus On What’s Necessary

A Minimalist Dorm Helps You Focus On Whats Necessary

Let’s be honest, there really isn’t a lot of space in those shoe box-sized dorms you’re assigned at most colleges to begin with. Choosing to make your dorm room a minimalist one is a wise, space-conscious move.

Most minimalist dorm room ideas are geared toward working with little to no space, but still providing you with a dorm room that can meet all of your collegiate needs. It will help you only buy and make room for the necessary college essentials, and cut out the rest.

Focus On Whats Necessary

Minimalist Dorm Rooms Are Functional For College Living

Minimalist Dorm Rooms Are Functional For College Living

There are very few spaces that can become messy, cluttered, and disorganized faster than a college dorm room. With the limited space, amount of free stuff given out by universities, and lack of time in student schedules to address the mess, a dorm room can become a nightmare in a matter of days.

Choosing to make your dorm room a minimalist one is a surefire way to keep the mess from piling up. Minimalist dorms also have hidden and functional storage spaces that can be used to help keep your minimalist dorm room in order.

messy college dorm room

Minimalist Dorm Rooms Are Cost Conscious

Minimalist Dorm Rooms Are Cost Conscious

It’s no secret that every element of college living is expensive. When you go off to college for the first time, not only are you spending money on tuition, you are spending money to buy dorm décor, supplies, and all those living essentials that you probably used to get for free at home.

Choosing to create a minimalist dorm room will save you money down the line because it encourages you to focus on the things that you truly need, not just the things you want in the dorm.

Minimalist Dorm Room Aesthetic & Décor Inspiration

Minimalist Dorm Room Inspiration

The best way to get ideas and inspiration for your minimalist dorm room is to defer to others who have already built dreamy, minimalist dorm rooms.

Like I said before, creating a simple minimalist dorm is equal parts about the lifestyle and the aesthetic. Check out some of these aesthetically pleasing dorm rooms to hopefully inspire your own minimalist room décor.

Minimalist Dorm Inspiration For Your Bed

Minimalist Dorm Inspiration For Your Bed

When it comes to styling around your bed in a minimalist dorm room, think about incorporating a simple, neutral color scheme for your bedding and your bedroom decor. Keep in mind that your bed will be the space where you start and end each day.

Keep it cozy! Consider adding warm knit blankets, surrounding your bedside in plants, or adding some string or lamp lights.

Minimalist Dorm Bedroom in college
Simple Minimalist Dorm Bedroom
Minimalist College Dorm Bedroom
Minimalist College Dorm Bedroom Design
Minimalist College Dorm Bedroom Style
Simple Minimalist Dorm Room
Minimalist Dorm Room Bedroom
Minimalistic Style Dorm Bedroom
Dorm Room Minimalist Bedroom
Minimalist bedroom in Dorm
Minimalist Inspired Dorm Bedroom
Dorm Bedroom Minimalism
Dorm Room Minimalist Style
Dorm Room With Minimalist Design
Minimalist Designed Dorm Bed
Dorm Bedroom in Minimalism
Minimalist Dorm Bed
Simple Minimalist Bedroom Dorm

Minimalist Dorm Inspiration For Your Desk

Minimalist Dorm Inspiration For Your Desk

Apart from your bed, your desk is likely the space where you will spend most of your time while in your college dorm room. Or, at least, it probably should be if you want to keep up in class! Make it a priority to build a desk space that adds to your mental focus and doesn’t take away from it.

Catering your desk space to minimalist aesthetics and ideals will likely look like keeping the surface of your desktop as organized and decluttered as possible, incorporating functional desk décor to inspire you, and refraining from filling your workspace with supplies you don’t actually need.

College Dorm Minimalist Desk
Dorm Room Desk in Minimalist Style
Minimalist College Dorm Desk
Simple Desk Setup In Dorm Room
Simple Desk Setup In College Dorm Room
Desk In Dorm Room
College Dorm Desk Style
Simple Minimalist Dorm Room Desk
Minimalist Dorm Room Desk Setup
Simple Minimalist Dorm Desk Layout
Minimalist Dorm Desk Style
Dorm Room Desk Minimalism

What To Buy For A Minimalist Dorm (And What Not To)

What To Buy For A Minimalist Dorm

There are tons of dorm preparation lists out there that will try to tell you exactly what you need in a college dorm, but lots of those lists include extra items that, in my opinion, aren’t necessary. Start with some of the basics and add from there.

You don’t need to have absolutely everything right out of the gate. You might find that you can share with your roommate, borrow from someone down the hall, or realize you never needed something in the first place.

Even if you need something in a pinch down the line, you can hop online, order it, and have it shipped right to your door. This way, you can intentionally ease into the perfect setup without the clutter.

what not to buy as a minimalist

Minimalist Dorm Room Essentials

Minimalist Dorm Room Essentials

I’ve made a minimalist dorm room list that only includes things you truly need to create a minimalist dorm room, divided by categories so you can think through what you need in sections.

Keep in mind that what and how many items is going to be a personal decision. You want to have enough to be practical, but not too much. Having enough clothes to get you to laundry day might mean having only a few days’ worth of clothing, while for others that might mean two weeks’ worth.

Minimalist Dorm Room Décor And Bedroom Essentials

  • One set of sheets
  • Pillows and bedding (essentials only)
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Backpack
  • First-aid kit
Minimalist Dorm Bedroom Essentials

how to organize a small bedroom

Minimalist Dorm Room Storage Essentials

  • Over-the-door storage
  • Collapsible storage bins
  • Small desk shelf
  • Wall hooks
  • Underbed bags
Desk In Dorm Room

storage inspiration

Minimalist Dorm Room Closet Essentials

  • Short-sleeve shirts
  • Long-sleeve shirts
  • Jeans
  • Shorts
  • Outfit for dressy events
  • Jackets
  • Hoodie
  • Sweaters
  • Socks
  • Undergarments
  • Workout clothes
  • Shoes
  • Laundry hamper
Dorm Room Closet Essentials

how to embrace a minimalist wardrobe

Minimalist Dorm Room Bathroom Essentials

  • Shower shoes
  • Shower caddy
  • Towel
  • Hair and makeup essentials
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Other daily care essentials
Minimalist Dorm Room Bathroom Essentials

how to organize a small bedroom

Minimalist Dorm Room Kitchen Essentials

  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee mug
  • Mini fridge (if not provided)
  • One set of dishes
  • One set of cutlery
  • Refillable water bottle
Minimalist Dorm Room Kitchen Essentials

kitchen essentials

Items You Don’t Need In A Minimalist Dorm

I also wanted to include a list of items that are commonly recognized as dorm room essentials but, in my opinion, aren’t necessarily musts and can be left off of a minimalist dorm room list.

Items You Don’t Need In A Minimalist Dorm

  • Decorative pillows
  • A TV
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Drying rack
  • Printer
  • Excessive décor
you dont need a tv

things you can live without as a minimalist

Minimalist Dorm Room Ideas: Setting Up The Space

Minimalist Dorm Room Ideas

When it comes to setting up and starting to decorate your minimalist dorm, there are a few things you can do to make your room feel as functional, bright, and spacious as possible. Minimalist room décor isn’t exactly one-size-fits-all. There are many different ways to decorate a college minimalist dorm room.

1Cover Up The Clutter

First things first when it comes to creating a minimalist dorm room: cut the clutter. Getting rid of excessive clutter is one of the most important aspects of minimalist living, which also applies to dorm life.

hidden storage spaceHowever, if I remember anything from my way-back-when college days, it’s that staying organized and not accruing clutter as a student isn’t really possible. My best advice to manage the inevitable clutter is to find small ways to keep it out of sight.

This basically just looks like keeping the clutter as contained as possible, whether that means hanging a curtain in front of your under-desk space, storing items in underbed storage, or using moveable organizer drawers as “junk drawers” or “miscellaneous drawers.”

2Curate Areas To Serve Two Purposes

Another main facet of minimalist living that applies to a dorm room is thinking through the purpose of your possessions. This applies both to the room décor you choose to buy as well as the way you are choosing to use every inch of your dorm.

Minimalism is all about getting more than one purpose out of an item or space. This might mean using a nightstand that also includes storage, or floating wall shelves that also store things.

It could also play into the design of your minimalist dorm space. Maybe your coffee corner also serves as a book nook. You could use your desk both as a nighttime study space or a vanity for your morning routine.

3Minimalist Dorms Should Stick To A Few Main Colors

While there is a lot more that goes into building a minimalist dorm room than curating a particular style or aesthetic, décor style and color does still play an important role in minimalist dorm room design. When it comes to decorating any minimalist space, try to stick to just a few main colors.

Neutral tones, earth tones, and jewel tones are all pretty common color palettes in a minimalist dorm room. Sticking to simpler colors will make the space more cohesive and help you from getting too distracted by ostentatious colors and flashy décor.

4Only Buy Purposeful Decor

It’s also important to avoid purposeless décor when decorating a minimalist dorm room. Like I said before, a huge facet of living minimally is being intentional with the things you buy, own, and use, and making sure they all have purpose.

Try to stick to dorm decorations that serve a functional purpose. This might look like buying an essential oil diffuser that looks aesthetically pleasing, but also helps prevent odors and increases emotional and mental regulation.

It could mean decorating a corner of your dorm with a wicker basket that also holds your blankets. Maybe you want to buy a white board calendar and frame it in a color that fits your scheme. You could buy live plants that look nice and also have health benefits. There are many ways to buy décor that also serves you.

what not to buy

5Use Table Dividers And Trays

It’s no secret that basic college dorm rooms do not come with a ton of baked-in storage. You’ll likely need to make use of the tabletop space on the desk and dresser that are usually provided for you. However, the tops of large surfaces are one the biggest culprits for unnecessary clutter.

My advice here is to invest in anything that can keep the tops of your desk, dresser, or vanity as organized as possible. This could mean tabletop dividers, clear plastic desk drawers, or simple gold or clear trays to use as loose item catch-alls.

6Invest In Savvy Storage Options

Storage hacks are one of the best ways to make the most of any small space and keep your minimalist dorm organized, decluttered, and functional.

I have tons of personal favorite storage hacks for small spaces. Using wall space as vertical storage for things like mason jars of pencils and pens would be a great way to go in a minimalist dorm.

Investing in over-the-door or back-of-the-door storage is another smart hack. I also think under the bed storage bags for seasonal wardrobes is one of the best hacks for dorm life.

storage ideas and inspiration

Arranging Furniture In A Minimalist Dorm Room

Arranging Furniture In A Minimalist Dorm Room

Another aspect of creating a minimalist dorm room that’s important is the way that you arrange your furniture in your dorm space. Making your dorm room minimalist has a ton to do with where furniture is placed, and it takes a lot of intentional thought to maximize the space in such a small room.

Of course, every dorm is different and comes with different furniture items and dimensions, but I wanted to include some dorm arrangement ideas to give you inspiration for your minimalist dorm room design. Here are some common ideas for optimal furniture placement.

how to organize a small bedroom

Where To Place The Bed In A Minimalist Dorm

Where To Place The Bed In A Minimalist Dorm

Let’s start with the furniture item that is likely taking up the most space in your dorm room: the bed. It’s likely that you have two beds in your dorm space (if you have a roommate), and there are a couple ways that will make sense when it comes to placement.

You’ll want to optimize the space as much as possible, and the best way to do that is to wedge the bed in one of three places:

  1. The corners of the room
  2. Against a wall in parallel
  3. Across the room, making an L shape

minimalist dorm room beds floorplan

Desk Placement In A Minimalist Dorm

Desk Placement In A Minimalist Dorm

The piece of furniture that is likely the second largest in the room is the provided desk. When arranging the study desk in your minimalist dorm room, you’ll want to think about maximizing the space you have, as well as where the most optimal place to study will be in the room. Always keep in mind the way that you personally work best.

Try these three main locations when placing your desk in a minimalist dorm room.

Three basic layouts to try

  1. Next to the window
  2. Loft your bed above the desk
  3. In the corner of the room
minimalist desk next to window

Placing The Dresser In A Minimalist Dorm

Placing The Dresser In A Minimalist Dorm

It’s also important to consider the placement of the dresser. Moving the dresser around will also depend on the way that your dorm is setup — I know a lot of college dorms have the dresser set stationary. If this is the case with you, you may have to plan the rest of the room around the dresser.

However, if the dresser is moveable, there are a couple ideal spots for it to be placed in the classic minimalist dorm room that can save you the most space possible.

Placement options for dresser

  1. Loft your bed above the dresser
  2. Next to the bed
  3. Between your two beds
dresser in minimalist dorm room

Is A Minimalist Dorm Room Best For You?

Is A Minimalist Dorm Room Best For You

It’s true that everyone has their own unique and independent style, so a minimalist dorm might not be for everyone. However, creating a minimalist dorm has so many benefits, especially for those just starting out with college life.

If you think you’d benefit from a dorm room that increases peace of mind and helps you maintain mental focus, a minimalist dorm room may be worth a shot.

Your Turn!

  • How will a minimalist dorm room help prepare you for college life?
  • How will you set up your minimalist dorm room?

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