a dorm room with lime green accents

A dorm informal short for dormitory is usually a home for limited periods of the residents' lives. For instance, they are a common home for college or university students. Sometimes dorm-style living is also used for emergency housing. In general residents of a dorm have a bedroom that may be private or shared with another student. Bathrooms, living rooms and other spaces are held in common. A dorm may have its own kitchen or kitchenettes, but in some schools, the dining hall is separate from the dormitories.

(A different use of the word dormitories refers to bedrooms for multiple people, usually children, places like older style orphanages.)

Alvar Aalto, Baker House Dormitories MIT, 1947-48

Dorms are generally used for only a few years of someone's life and residents tend to be assigned different rooms each year or even each semester. So dorm residents tend to accumulate relatively few belongings and to be more mobile than the general population. Most of the residents are young and generally have limited finances. So dorm furnishings tend to be relatively

  • inexpensive
  • lightweight, easily packed or mobile
  • "modern" or influenced by current fashions and trends, especially those that are popular with young adults
  • compact

There are companies and lines of furnishings that specifically target this dorm resident market. And you may see ads targeted toward this market in the fall when the school year is beginning.

Dorms vary widely in their amenities. Some have shared kitchens or bathrooms. Some have library or study places, lounges, TV rooms. Others are more like hotels with bathrooms for each room. The allowed or available appliances will also vary. Some allow microwaves, toasters, blenders, small refrigerators -- basically enough to have a small kitchenette in the room. Internet connections may be provided.

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