A Local’s Guide to Dorm Shopping

Head back to school in style.

dorm room

Photo via iStock

Whether you’re starting school in the city or you’re a resident looking to do some collegiate back-to-school shopping, don’t overlook these local stores. They’ll add a special touch to your dorm decor—which will come in handy when all of your roommates have the same Bed Bath & Beyond storage cubes. From the perfect wool throw to complement your bedding to that classic Pink Floyd poster, Boston has your dorm shopping needs covered.

For pillows and accessories: Jonathan Adler

Add a modern and upscale touch to any shabby dorm room with a pillow or two from Jonathan Adler. Their bright colors and bold designs infuse a blank room with tasteful flair. Check out this beaded elephant throw pillow or this hot pink-printed pillow to pack a punch of color through those drab cinderblock walls.

pendleton assembly row

Photos provided by Pendleton Woolen Mills

For bedding: Pendleton

Spruce up a basic comforter with a Navajo-inspired cotton throw, or ditch traditional bedding altogether and go for a beautiful bed-sized wool blanket instead. Available in wool, cotton, or a blend of the two, you can be snug and toasty no matter what climate you’re living in. Pendleton’s new line of National Park anniversary blankets is available online (there’s even one for Acadia National Park). To get a sense of the blankets’ look and feel in person, check out Pendleton’s Somerville location at Assembly Row.

For consignment: Boomerangs

Boomerangs is a group of thrift stores operated by the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts. There’s never a shortage of hidden treasures, no matter which location you’re at. (There are equally awesome stores in Jamaica Plain, West Roxbury, Central Square, and the South End.) Add some vintage charm to your room with an antique desk lamp, or consider creating a colorful collection of dishes.

Photo provided by Olives & Grace

Photo provided by Olives & Grace

For odds & ends: Olives & Grace

It’s easy to forget the little things when shopping for a move—like small utensils, towels, or soaps, for instance. Yet despite their size, they define the personality of a space. For homemade items created with care that will bring warmth into a room, check out Olives & Grace on Tremont Street. From a handmade leather journal to capture your memories and experiences, to a ceramic mug to sip coffee from as you study into the night, you’re bound to find the treasured accents you’re looking for.

For utilities: Black Ink

Browsing Black Ink’s baubles is always a treat, but their selection of whimsical utilities can provide the unique dose of design your dorm is looking for. Both the Beacon Hill and Harvard Square shops offer useful and quirky items, like oversized mechanical pencils and penguin-shaped cocktail shakers. Black Ink calls itself a shop of “unexpected necessities” and that hits the nail on the head.

For posters: Newbury Comics

It may be a cliché, but hanging up a poster of your favorite band is a rite of passage for college students. Plus, there’s no better place to get them than Newbury Street’s original peddler of pop culture: Newbury Comics. Founded by two MIT students in 1978, the store has a wide variety of poster sizes and hundreds of designs. It’s the ideal place to pick up a Pink Floyd placard to plaster on those white cinderblocks.

For books: Brookline Booksmith

There are few things that can make a new place feel like home more than some good books. And at this independent book store’s Used Book Cellar, you can get your money’s worth by swapping your used books for 15 percent of their worth in cash or 20 percent in store credit. Choose from whatever suits your fancy in the collection of over 25,000 titles that span everything from mind-twisting mystery thrillers to mind-reading biographies.


Magpie photo via Instagram

For prints: Magpie

Magpie’s selection of handmade goods is to die for, but their prints steal the show. The Davis Square shop purveys some of the most beautiful graphic design work in the city. If you can’t find the perfect print, Magpie’s assorted stationery and cards are a good second option for wall art—check out letterpress work from Albertine Press.