disclosure: this post is sponsored by Walmart

I cannot believe I’m typing this next sentence.

The twins are leaving for college tomorrow.


How did that happen?

These two tiny blonde-haired-blue-eyed-giggling-joyful-center-of-my-world are heading out to take on the next chapter of their life.

These past two weeks have been a flurry of activity, unlike anything this house has ever seen.

(total aside: that might be a slight exaggeration because this house has seen a lot).

Instead of focusing on the emotions and the rollercoaster of bittersweet joy, I’m focusing on the practical. What are we taking? What do we need? What will fit into a matchbox of a dorm room?

It keeps me going.

Somewhere along the way I became an expert in dorms and dorm rooms and what looks cute in them and what they need and today I’m sharing that with you.

Here’s the design plan for each of the twins dorm rooms (yes they are not living together) and 15 things every dorm room needs.

15 must-have dorm room essentials

Here’s our list of the must-haves for any dorm room space.

  1. Stackable storage–Each of their dorm rooms has an outdoor closet. In order to maximize space we needed a super sturdy stackable unit to hold extra linens and cleaning supplies and off-season clothes and raincoats and umbrellas and things that they aren’t going to use every day. Here’s a great option with five sturdy drawers.
  2. Vacuum storage bagsThese vacuum storage bags are literally genius and help maximize space. You use a vacuum with a hole in the top of them to reduce the size of the bag until you need to open it again.
  3. Grab and go coffee mug–Hello 8:00 am class, I’m looking at you. This is the cutest coffee mug in the twins’ favorite color that comes with a push-in lid for leak prevention and a stainless steel interior to keep the coffee hot.
  4. Over-the-door hooks–In an attempt to make every single space count, these over-the-door hooks are the perfect way to add extra storage where you least expect it. They come in a set of two.
  5. Fairy lights garland–I know these fairy lights might not seem like an essential? But they are. These lights are the hottest thing in dorm room decor along with the flowers we are putting on the wall and the boho rug and bedding we found for the space.
  6. Mattress topper–Sleep is essential when you are a college student and there’s no way to get a better night’s sleep than to make your mattress more cozy. These gel memory foam mattress toppers are an incredible way to make a dorm mattress into something that you actually want to sleep on.
  7. Clear stacking drawers–We are actually lofting the beds in the space to create more room and then adding more storage under the stacked beds. These stackable drawers are great because they are see-through and lightweight. They come in a set of four.
  8. Rolling desk chair--To study, you need to be comfortable. The rooms come with a plain wooden chair. But why study in a wooden chair when you could study in this rolling desk chair with a padded seat and rounded back that comes in several different colors.
  9. Pop-up hamper–I know laundry is a dirty word sometimes. There are two sets of washers and dryers down the hall and this pop-up hamper is the easiest way to help get the laundry there. It’s super lightweight and folds up into a circle when you aren’t using it.
  10. Sticky hooks–We can’t nail anything into the cinder block walls, so we found some creative solutions including these sticky hooks. They come in a set of six and are heavy-duty.
  11. Air purifier–The dorms that the twins are staying in is the exact dorm that I stayed in when I was at Baylor. Suffice it to say that it’s been there a while. To get rid of any musty smells or odors, we all decided that an air purifier was a must. This air purifier covers the square footage of their dorm room and comes with a HEPA filter.
  12. Mini-clip on fan–You can’t adjust the temperature of the individual dorm rooms and it can get really hot in Texas. We didn’t have a lot of space for a fan, so this clip-on mini fan seems like the perfect solution.
  13. Brita water filtering system–They each have a mini-fridge in their room and we loved this as an alternative to plastic water bottles. This pitcher is a space-saver pitcher and fits perfectly into the fridge.
  14. Food storage–They aren’t going to be doing any cooking in their room, but we needed a little something for left-overs or food storage that would fit into the mini-fridge. These Pyrex dishes were the perfect size and they stack for easy storage.
  15. Water bottle–Water is essential to staying hydrated for those long walks across campus. This rose-gold water bottle is one of the prettiest water bottles and holds 20 ounces of water.

You can also find tons more dorm room essentials over at Walmart Home. I love Walmart Home (ya’ll have heard me rave about them before). And the best part? They’ve taken the guesswork out of planning for college. Everything is organized for you into categories and there are tons of ideas and inspiration that you might not have thought of for the dorm room space.

That was a LOT of essentials and the dorm room is stocked.

But now?

It’s time to make it pretty.

Here are the two different dorm room designs. I’ll take pictures on Thursday after everything is installed.

First up?

Westleigh’s room.

Here’s what we picked out for her space:

  1. This love and kindness sign
  2. This wooden W
  3. These planters
  4. This throw
  5. This throw
  6. These sheets
  7. These curtains
  8. This duvet set
  9. This furry pillow
  10. This tufted pillow
  11. This artwork
  12. This storage ottoman
  13. This rug
  14. This lamp

Next up?

Whitney’s room.

It’s similar in many ways, but with her own personality.

Just like twins.

Here’s what we picked out for her space.

  1. This wooden W
  2. This heart artwork
  3. These planters
  4. This throw
  5. This duvet set
  6. This sheet set
  7. These curtains
  8. This crushed velvet pillow
  9. This polka dot throw pillow
  10. This floral artwork
  11. This tufted storage ottoman
  12. This rug
  13. This lamp
  14. This tassel throw

And now?

We have everything for their dorm rooms (except for some last-minute shopping when we get there).

Everything is packed.

Everything is ready to go.

Everything is waiting for its new home.

That was the easy part.

The hardest part will be walking away from those two dorm rooms….

…and letting them go.

disclosure: this post was sponsored by Walmart.

All opinions are my own.

Please see my disclosure page for more information.

Affiliate links were used in this post.

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  1. Image for Mary Smart Mary Smart

    I just bought all of this same type of stuff for my Niece and took her to Oklahoma State University last week to move into her dorm and help her decorate it. It was indeed very hard to leave her there and drive away!

  2. Image for Heather M Krout Heather M Krout

    Thinking of you today KariAnne as I can't imagine the wave of emotions you must be feeling. As always, love your post, love your style and love your words. Sending HUGS to help you through these next 48 hours! XO, Heather

  3. Image for Judi Judi

    Oh sweetie, I know how hard the next few days will be, Your babies are leaving the nest. What an exciting time for the girls!! So many new adventures and a world of possibilities awaits them! As you said, “this too shall pass” - it may take a day or two or three (give yourself some grace) but you and the girls will settle into a new norm. Prayers for a successful first year, and for peace and grace for you, mom.❤️🌺

  4. Image for Laura Harrie Laura Harrie

    KariAnne, You can do this, you are prepared! You have given your twins all the essentials and more being their mother! Walk with your head held high, the girls are going to be the best college students ever because of you!

  5. Image for Kathy Anderson Kathy Anderson

    You’re making me want to go back to college, KariAnne! And that dorm IS really old because I lived there, too, in the 70’s! Love your girls and know how successful they’re going to be, but, yes, it’s going to be hardest on you - tissues on your list?? Bless your mama heart! 💖

  6. Image for Kim Kim

    Remembering sending my twins off to college: different colleges and different moving days, thank goodness for that. Nearly ten years later, I can say I still tear up at the thought of dropping them off at their respective schools. Can say that it has been amazing to witness their journey from freshmen to their lives today. It has been fascinating to see them evolve in terms of friendships, interests, etc. How a the choice of an elective evolved into a career that no one could ever have expected. Watching them learn to talk, crawl, walk and reach development milestones was exciting, but the changes they will experience via college are just as compelling. Enjoy!

  7. Image for Shelley Shelley

    Oh KariAnne...I remember leaving my daughter behind in her college dorm. It was the longest, drive back to Maine from Boston. I couldn't speak to hubby the whole way, I just cried the whole way. To be honest, it was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. It's okay to cry, I promise you, it's okay...be kind to yourself for the rest of the week. You deserve at least that. Know that you've done an amazing job with them and that they love you and will miss you just as much as you miss them. Even if they don't always tell you...trust me...they do.

  8. Image for Betsy Betsy

    Reading this brought back memories of our boys leaving for college. Here are some comments. I don’t want a new comforter! I’ll take the one off my bed. Sheets! I can’t be bothered with sheets. Just pick up large boxes of snacks at Costco and I’ll take them. I’ll wash my clothes without detergent, save your money. There were several other doses!

  9. Image for Claudia A Claudia A

    Good Luck Girls!!! That’s for all 3 of you. It’s a really hard time especially being left behind on their journey. To put it plainly it sucks! Ps Mom don’t forget the big Rubbermaid to put all the snacks in and the mattress bag for bed bugs.

  10. Image for Kaari Sommer Kaari Sommer

    This made me get all tearful and mine is only 12! I can’t even imagine how bittersweet this must be for you and your husband❤️.

  11. Image for Char Char

    Our son lofted his bed so he could create a study area under it with additional storage behind the desk. But the best part of his lofted bed? The little cantilevered shelf his dad made to hang off the backside of the headboard. Genius place for his phone, glasses, water and mini fan. Best wishes to the girls.

  12. Image for Teresa Gonzales Teresa Gonzales

    You made me cry again- I still remember the bittersweet feeling of that goodbye. It is a big change for all of you-cut yourself some slack and remember they love you. Can't wait to see the pictures of their rooms. :)

  13. Image for Judy Allen Judy Allen

    Yes tears! I remember those days. You will always have those precious girls snd it appears you have done well in raising beautiful competent young ladies. Bravo and prayers.

  14. Image for Be Be

    Ohh this looks like my niece’s room at Ole Miss. So fun for all but hard for those going home. She loved the shoe organizers. The more the shoes the merrier. Ha. Thanks for all your wonderful ideas!! Give yourself time to adjust to your new journey. Remember you have to keep us going. REALLY

  15. Image for Teddee Grace Teddee Grace

    Oh, fun! I think I took a bedspread to Mizzou. I shared with two other girls and the girl from St. Louis got there early and took the twin bed, but I beat the third girl there and got the bottom bunk. I think I had two home sewn dresses, two skirts and a sweater. We were poor and I only ended up at the University of Missouri because my high school principal convinced my Dad that it would be better for me to be enrolled all four years at Mizzou than spending the first two years at a close-by state teacher's college and then transferring. My mother never let me forget how much they and my younger brother sacrificed and suffered for the four years I was there even though I made good grades, got a couple of very small scholarships and worked part time. Thank you Principal Voris Brown. You opened up my world. Don't be sad, I was so relieved when my parents drove off and I was finally on my own. It was a great day! Can't wait to see the finished rooms.

  16. Image for Kris Kris

    Oh KariAnne. We just got back yesterday from dropping my firstborn (son) off at college. I held it together the entire trip (our 15 year old daughter was with us, so that forced me to keep my emotions in check) but once we got home, I had a great big ugly cry. The kind of cry that makes you think you should buy stock in Kleenex tissues. I'm doing better today but I'm sure I will have my moments! I'm here for ya if you need me. Meanwhile, I used many of your ideas but there are definitely differences between boy "essentials" and girl "essentials". Space is super limited where he was, so storage was the word of the day.

  17. Image for Barbara Moore Barbara Moore

    I'll be thinking of you tomorrow, Mama. I once asked my brand new father in law (46 years ago) if he was sad his last child was leaving the nest. He replied, "No. They always come back and bring more people with them". So there's that. Can't wait to see the dorm rooms (and I'll act like I don't notice your red eyes and nose)!

  18. Image for JC JC

    They are each going to have the prettiest and most functional rooms!! Praying for you! You can do this!! All your years of loving instruction has brought them to this place. They will flourish and grow and you will be cheering them on watching the blessings all along the way😍😍 Enjoy this milestone and journey. Congratulations girls!!!

  19. Image for Lynne Lynne

    This good-bye is a hard one! Let it be hard because it can't be any other way. I remember when we dropped our youngest off her first year of college. Five of us went to get her set up! And I was a bit thankful for two strapping boys that carried most of her things up 4 flights of stairs! The elevators were so busy it would have taken many hours to try and get things to her room that way. Finally that evening, my husband told me I had to stop thinking of things to do and go get for her, that it was time to go. Longest journey out of that dorm room I have ever taken!

  20. Image for Rebecca Rebecca

    KariAnne, when my son went to college I slept in his bed on occasion the first year. My sweet husband understood. Thinking of you this week. Rebecca

  21. Image for Alice Alice

    All four of mine will be in college this year. Just left the baby a few hours ago for his first year at Iowa State, his only decor was an ISU flag…and a wood cutout of Massachusetts, our home state. Boys are so easy! But I feel your happy/sad moments keenly! Good luck tomorrow and sleep in on Friday!

  22. Image for Stephanie Brown Stephanie Brown

    Blessings on your beautiful girls as they begin their college adventures. Hugs and more hugs for your dear friend.. just seems like yesterday I was drinking a Diet Dr Pepper and found your blog about your family in Kentucky. . They were so young.,, and in a blink.. they grew up just like my two. Sending extra hugs to all from Kentucky! God bless and protect these gorgeous girls always! Stephanie


    KariAnne. I am keeping you and your dear hubby and your two precious girls in my prayers. This is a difficult time for you, I know. You have done a wonderful job of raising your girls. They will do well on their own and will make you and your hubby so proud of them. Enjoy your time getting the girls settled in their dorm rooms. Their rooms will look so beautiful with everything they have picked out. We will look forward to seeing your pictures! Take care and enjoy every moment on this new journey! Bless you all! You are all precious in God's sight -- and in our's!

  24. Image for Elena Elena

    Here in Italy this moment in life is not se difficult, kids always come home for weekend and college is not so far from home. Good life girls, and good life KariAnne!

  25. Image for AnnTN AnnTN

    I remember the day we dropped our son/only child off at college. We wanted to help him get settled and he wanted us to hurry up and go (his demeanor). He had friends to hang out with. He was two hours away, so he wasn't far and he came home often his Freshman year. Anyway, all that to say that I cried every day the first week he was gone. He's been out of college for 9 years. He went an extra year and has two degrees. He's married and a new dad and he lives across the country. We live in Tennessee and he lives in Nevada.

  26. Image for Ivory Ivory

    Awwww, you are such a great mom. Your girls are so beautiful. They look just like an ‘ older version’ of you. LOL! I wish you had a list like this for boys. My son will be leaving the nest tomorrow. I am already crying. Like you, we have given them the tools to be on their own without us, now it’s time for them to use them. I know our kids will be amazing, especially when they kaput God first. I love the items you got for your girl. Thanks for sharing.

  27. Image for Tracey Tracey

    I’m right there with you on this one. We took our daughter to college a couple weeks ago. I miss her of course but the hardest part for me is that she took the dog with her (she is her dog) She is living in an off campus apartment with a very nice roommate And I have to agree that string lights are essential! We had fun helping her move and making last minute runs to Costco and Walmart She is in NC and we live in IN but I grew up in that area and still have family there. My daughter needed a bed for her room and my aunt had one in storage that she could use. Thank goodness for family! Love the picture of the twins and Buddy! But I think Buddy looks sad too!

  28. Image for Scarlett Scarlett

    So sweet! Brought tears to my eyes & memories of us moving our son into his dorm room his freshman year. We were only a 3 hour drive from him & had season football tickets so we were going to see him A LOT but still.... It’s tough for sure to leave them. They do great! We cry, worry, text & call probably way too much (or was that just me?). Big hugs!

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