It’s back-to-school season again, and for some of us, that means packing up our things and moving into a dorm for another semester! As a person hailing from Pulau NTU, I’ve always viewed dorms as both a necessary evil as well as a saving grace. Though living in a dorm means I get to skip the long commute back home, they’re usually pretty utilitarian-looking, and some can even get really messy and dirty.
While I can’t do much about the cleanliness aspect other than to nag my dorm mates about cleaning our room, I can share some amazing dorm hacks that I’ve personally used, and others that I’ve found online! So keep reading for the 5 dorm hacks that’ll help make your dorm feel like a real home away from home.
1. Removable Décor
I know that plenty of people want to decorate their rooms but are afraid of damaging the walls. Using Blu-tack will let you decorate your walls to your heart’s content, without any damage! It’s cheap, super easy to use and you can find it at most stationery shops. I personally love using it to create my own wall calendars. They’re customisable, pretty and help me keep track of my dates so I don’t miss any deadlines (and we know how often that can happen).
A more ambitious DIY alternative to this is using washi tape as decorations. Just like blu-tack, washi tape is easy to remove and can be found at most stationery stores. You can use it on your walls, mirrors, cupboards and even try your hand at creating your own picture frames or wallpaper!
The possibilities are endless with washi tape. If you find yourself lacking inspiration, just google “Washi Tape Home Décor” and get inspired! While the majority of designs online tend towards the geometric, you can design anything you want!
And though some find this basic, I’m a firm believer that fairy lights make everything better. String them anywhere and everywhere, and they instantly make a room look better! If fairy lights are too mainstream for you, a great alternative could be flexible LED tube lights. They are an easy way to replicate the neon signs now seen in cafés everywhere, and these LED tubes can be bent into any shape, and even your favourite quote!
2. Personal Mosquito Net
Living in humid, tropical Singapore, there are tons of mosquitoes around just waiting to feast on the unwary. While we can try and fight them off during the day, their prime time is during the night when we’re sleeping and unmoving!
You could use bug spray, repellent, or a mosquito coil. However, all those chemicals can be really bad for you, and honestly, I’ve always been worried that those mosquito coils may turn out to be a fire hazard.
Instead, to prevent itchy bites, invest in a mosquito net to hang around your bed. Not only does it prevent mosquitos from entering, it also creates a nice comfy space in your room while still letting air flow through! Just get this one from Ikea, which comes with a removable ceiling hook to hang it from!
3. Upgrade Your Comfort
This one seems like a no-brainer, but if you’re going to be living in this room for the next year or so (or longer if you decide to stay in a dorm again), then it really pays to be comfortable. Most dorm beds tend towards the extra firm, so I encourage you to invest in a mattress topper to make your bed super comfy and something to look forward to after a long day of classes and studying!
You should also get some back support for your desk chair since you’re most likely to be sitting at your desk for long period of time (you may laugh now, but tech neck is no joke). I’ve found the best combination for maximum comfort to be a seat cushion, an ergonomic back support and some chair leg protectors to make it easier to get up smoothly! The latter also protects your floor from scratches, which is great because you can get fined by the hall office for that.
4. Exercise Equipment
When you start school, it can be really tempting to let fitness fall by the wayside. The lack of P.E. as a compulsory subject, late-night suppers with friends and just general laziness gets us all. There’s even a common American expression for it, known as “The Freshmen 15”, referring to the 15 pounds (around 7kg) of weight that many freshmen gain in their first year of college!
To counteract this, get some exercise equipment that can be used in your dorm room, so that you can exercise anytime you’re free! Other than the standard dumbbells, yoga mats and resistance bands for stretching, another great piece of equipment is a doorway pull-up bar.
Having all these equipment in sight also (forcibly) reminds us to exercise every once in a while. You will be surprised at how much you can exercise as a way to clear your head when you’ve hit a roadblock while writing that essay. Since exercising helps to stimulate the brain, this is totally a win-win situation!
5. Organised Space Savers
While dorm rooms are notoriously small, there are lots of ways to work with the limited space we have! Here are a few of my favourite space-saving hacks:
First, let me preclude this by saying that the best lesson I’ve ever learnt about how to be organised is 1. hiding all your mess and 2. having a separate place for everything to seem organised. To achieve this, make sure that everything is packed inside your closet or in boxes on your shelves!
Even if you are just chucking a lot of your things under the bed, take a minute while unpacking to roughly categorise them according to usage. Then, place all these categories into separate boxes (try to get pretty boxes for maximum style points). If you then label the box to state what it contains? Boom, you’re already more organised than 95% of the rest of the world.
Next, get some over-the-door shoe organisers! You’ve definitely seen this hack everywhere, and there’s a good reason for that. Hanging shoe racks can be tucked away behind closed doors and has multiple pockets for you to store everything you need!
Remember how grouping things together can make you seem more organised? The multiple pockets allow you to group and store all the miscellaneous items that would otherwise be strewn around your room (re: bobby pins and hair ties). If you want, you can also label these pockets and ascend to organising god status.
So, these were my favourite dorm room hacks! Though this article was intended for dorm rooms, it definitely doesn’t mean that only college students can use it. I know that I’m already planning to try out that DIY washi tape wallpaper hack on my room at home!
Signing off from Pulau NTU,