Anatomy of a Yale dorm room

Ah, the college dorm room: it’s cramped, it has fairy lights, and it looks like the home section at Target. It also probably contains a roommate, who you might love, or you might hate. Either way, dorms certainly teach you how to share.

Yale dorms have many of the essential characteristics that other dorms have, but they also come with some pretty unique features. Think old fireplaces in common rooms*, wood floors, and bay windows overlooking gorgeous courtyards.

Fireplaces! Courtyard views!

Though I live off campus this year, I really enjoyed living in Yale dorms as a first-year and sophomore. I learned how to maximize my space in order to have a place for work and rest. Here’s a quick lesson on functional dorm anatomy:


In college, beds are for eating, studying, and late-night conversations. Oh, and sleeping too. It’s a versatile space! I always like to put photos and lights around my bed to keep it cozy and personal. The string lights also provide some extra light for reading. Machine washable, durable bedding is a must (re: eating). Particularly in smaller first-year rooms, your bed is often one of the few spots you can truly call your own. So, the bed area is definitely a place to customize for your needs and let your personality shine through.

My bed in Vanderbilt Hall my first year on the left, and my bed sophomore year in Saybrook on the right. Get used to the twin XL size!


Depending on your study preferences, desks can serve different purposes. I tend to study in the library more often than in my room, because I find it’s more productive. So, I use my desk partly as a dresser (lol), and partly as a space to write emails, check my homework answers, and do other light work. There’s an abundance of study spaces around Yale’s campus (literally dozens of libraries), and when you’re on the go it can be hard to come back to your room to do work. Some people love studying in their room, others don’t. So get creative when utilizing your desk space!

I kept plenty of photos on my desk sophomore year, and I used the drawers underneath to store my toiletries!


Designing your closet is mastering the art of strategic storage. When you wake up at 9am and class is at 9:25, you need to have quick access to your wardrobe staples. You also need to save space for formal wear, workout gear, and lots of winter coats (do NOT forget to pack this!). While the exact design of your closet depends on whether you have a wardrobe or a closet, every setup needs storage cubes, a mirror, and some extra string lights for visibility.

Showing off my new parka in the hanging mirror on the door of the closet I shared with my roommate first year


Not every first-year dorm has a ton of floor space, but you should definitely take advantage of whatever you’ve got! Throw down a runner rug to up the coziness, or keep enough space clear to roll out a yoga mat for a quick workout. Get a utility cart, side table, or shelf if you need extra storage. Buy some bean bags or folding chairs if you plan on using your room as a social space.

We had a window seat sophomore year, so I added a comfoter, pillows, and some lights to make it cozier and easier for friends to come hang out.

Long story short: maximize your space for your needs. Keep it functional, keep it fun, and enjoy the ~Yale aesthetic~ :)

*the fireplaces no longer work, so you can’t accidentally set anything on fire