College Move-In Day: Nia’s Freshman Dorm Room

Friends! This past weekend was a very bittersweet one for us, we moved our daughter into her out of state college dorm (well it’s the next state over, but still).  I have to be honest, I didn’t expect her college departure to hit me as hard as it has. My daughter has always been my little bestie (and the only other female in the house besides the cats), and having her gone for almost a week now, has been a little hard for me to adjust—well maybe it’s not about her being gone from the house, but more about her being *my* “little girl” in a big city.


I recently shared a list of dorm room living essentials that we started out with, and figured I’d share a little about her dorm and the move-in day essentials that I packed in my “tool bag” to get her up and running! (As well as a few items we wished we had brought).

This is her dorm building, overlooking Boston Common-I snapped this pic from our hotel room😍

Her Dorm

Nia lucked out big time and got a single dorm. Her dorm is in a beautiful building built in 1917, the architecture on the main floor and on the exterior of the building is so unbelievably stunning, I want to go back just to take photos to print.

The Inspo:

Nia and I had a hard time nailing down inspo for her space, but luckily she knows her mom works best under pressure! One day when we were out looking for décor, I came across this framed print that was almost a spitting image of my 3 best friends and I (we all met in our freshman year in college) and I just couldn’t leave it behind, but I also had no idea where I was going to put it.

Later after leaving the store with only this print, Nia and I went home and took a second look at it and realized that it had all the colors that we wanted to use in her space.  Once we decided to utilize this piece of art in her dorm—the rest came together pretty easily.

The Challenges

While her room has a beautiful bay window, it’s an interior window of sorts, as it leads to an atrium, so unfortunately, natural light is at a minimum (hence the poorly lit, bad quality photos), and the only light available is a pretty harsh overhead neon light-which has always caused her headaches in the past.  So I have to bring her a few extra lamps for supplemental lighting on our next visit.

A few other challenges, like in most dorms:

  • We aren’t allowed to use nails or screws to hang things
  • Curtains, tapestries and upholstered furniture is banned,
  • And area rugs are not allowed, amongst other things, which to a home décor enthusiast like myself, is like an shot to the heart, lol.

So we had to create interest, and bring texture in through other means.

The Gallery Wall

I looked at a bunch of dorm rooms prior to setting this up, and realized that rooms without wall art look awfully bland.  So after grabbing the “girlfriends” print and the line art, I knew that I needed to create a gallery wall to make the room feel lived in and add interest.  I woke up super early on the morning of move in day and created some quick prints in Canva and printed them out before Nia could even see.  I placed them in these super inexpensive and lightweight format frames, which worked perfectly with command strips.  I also added the gold cookie cooling rack that I found on clearance at Homegoods to the wall, and clipped mini clothespins for her to hang some of her favorite Polaroids.

When we were setting up her dorm, she had to leave to attend some orientation programming, and I put up the gallery wall to surprise her.  She was so thrilled to see it, and especially loved the printed photo of she and her siblings at the beach.


Stay humble neon sign

Knowing that display storage would be at a minimum, I picked up this over the bed shelf for her to use as a sort of nightstand, a place to rest her fan (she is a fan in her face sleeper), and as a spot to display trinkets and books.

I shopped Homegoods for the bedding, pillows, line art, desk lamp and clock.

On the other side of the room, things aren’t looking as photogenic as I’d like, but she has a small closet/armoire situation, and then a little food zone, which I’m not sure she’ll get a whole lot of use out of, because so far she’s really been enjoying the food and social time in the dining hall.

BUT, can we talk about this three tiered cart?  I found this last minute at Michaels and it’s pretty amazing.  It has a bunch of attachments which gives mugs, paper towels, plates, utensils, food storage containers, her coffee maker, and other small appliances a home–with room for more!

She is storing her microwave on top of her fridge, and then on top of that, she has a little tiered basket for snacks, as well as her Brita water filter.

Hubs and I with puffy eyes after some serious sleep deprivation, and shedding a few tears

Overall, we left our girl feeling comforted knowing she has pretty much everything she needs and more!

Here are a few last minute items I packed in my “tool bag” for move in day, a few items I wish I packed, or she wishes she brought with her:


  • Box cutter
  • Glue gun
  • Printer/Ink
  • Tons of Command Strips, hooks, etc. (bring much more than you’ll think you need)
  • Lightbulbs for lamps
  • Batteries
  • Staple gun
  • Label maker
  • Small level
  • Expo markers
  • Magic Erasers
  • Cleaning Wipes
  • Multi-tool/or small tool set (which I left behind for her)

Random stuff:

  • Accordion file, or Heavy Weight folder for important documents
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Plug-Ins/Diffuser
  • Masks
  • Twine/String and small clothespins to create an impromptu photo wall
  • Scissors

Décor Stuff:

  • Printed art/Posters/Canvases
  • Format Frames
  • Small Fur Rug to soften chair
  • Foldable cube baskets
  • Faux Plants
  • Extra Throw blankets
  • LED Twinkle lights/Curtain Lights

Things we forgot but wished we brought:

  • Small Tape Measure
  • Painter’s tape
  • A door Stopper
  • Extra lamps
  • An extra long mirror, although there is one inside of the armoire, a stand alone mirror would have been great to bring
  • 2 Lightweight, plastic folding chairs for when she has friends in her room
  • A small vanity mirror, this item completely slipped our minds

I think that’s it friends, not bad for a 2 hour time frame! I tried to leave her with a few blank areas so she can infuse her own style and creativity, so hopefully when I go back to visit I can update this post with more, and hopefully better quality photos.

Have you dropped a teen off at college?  Is there anything I missed on my list that you can think of?

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  1. Denise k
    September 2, 2022 / 12:43 pm

    Her room is so pretty!!! And she is lovely and looks so happy❤️❤️❤️❤️

  2. Linda
    September 2, 2022 / 1:14 pm

    Really rough they don’t allow curtains, (for privacy even, the neighbors are so close?!), and a rug for the floor beside the bed… but she’ll adjust and do fine. She looks so friendly and excited.

  3. Marchel
    September 2, 2022 / 6:04 pm

    Her room is beautiful! The architecture of her dorm is amazing! All the love and luck to Nia and your family!

  4. Holly
    September 5, 2022 / 9:35 am

    As always, amazing job! Just love it. I totally understand the emotion of dropping your kids off at college. We have been through it with two of our children. I think the first one is the hardest and I cried too! Pretty awesome Nia has her own room and in such a beautiful building! Best wishes to all of you in this next phase!

  5. Debbie
    September 9, 2022 / 1:59 pm

    you did an amazing job decorating the room. it looks so cozy

  6. Molly
    September 12, 2022 / 3:00 pm

    Oh wow! I can’t get over how pretty her room is. The adjustment is hard; I get it. Hang in there.

  7. Maria Fernandes
    August 2, 2023 / 5:39 pm

    Show cute dorm room!

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