Dorm IQ #9 | The Most Popular College Dorm Room Layouts

February 15, 2024

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Article about dorm room layouts and floor plans

Welcome to Topic 9 of Dorm IQ, a look at the most popular college dorm room layouts and bathroom types.

As you prepare for your college journey, understanding the various dorm room layouts and bathroom options available will help you both choose the dorm room style that best suits you and also begin to plan for dorm move-in. This article looks at the most popular dorm styles from cozy singles to expansive apartment-style dorms as well as the various bathroom setups we’ve seen on college campuses.

If you have any questions about types of dorms, want to know when our recommendations go on sale or want to do a deep dive into all things dorms, please join us in our Dorm Shopping Recommendations & Deal Alerts Facebook community.

Not sure what dorm room types your school offers or how to find out? Take a read through Dorm IQ Topic 1: How To Research Your College Dorm Room.

Now, let’s take a walk through college dorm layouts.

The Various Types Of Dorms

While there are going to be outliers and unique situations, these are the most common types of dorm room layouts in the USA.

1. Single Dorm Rooms

Single dorm room example.

A single dorm room is ideal for the independent student who values privacy and a space of their own. Not to be confused with a private bedroom in a suite-style dorm (see #4 below), a single dorm room is typically located in a traditional residence hall with a mix of single and double dorm rooms. Single dorm rooms are more expensive than doubles and typically harder to come by due to limited quantity and increasing demand.

A drawback to single dorm rooms is that it may be harder to meet people when you are on your own. There is definitely a benefit to having a roommate and someone to go with to the dining hall with in the early weeks of freshman year.

2. Traditional Double Dorm Rooms

Double Dorm Room Floor Plan
A double dorm room floor plan.

The classic college living experience, traditional double dorm rooms are shared with one roommate. These are still the most common type of dorm room, and they balance affordability with the opportunity to make a lifelong friend as well as learn valuable lessons in patience and compromise.

Double dorm rooms usually run anywhere from 120sqft to 250sqft and will include 2 single beds, 2 desks with chairs, 2 dressers and 2 closets or wardrobes.

Double Dorm Room Before Move-In
A double dorm room at move-in.

Double dorm rooms will be larger than single dorm rooms but can still be surprisingly small or pleasingly larger than expected. For the smaller doubles, students may consider fully lofting their beds to create seating or desk space below, and in some cases, students decide to bunk the beds.

If adjustable beds are available, students in traditional double dorm rooms often raise their beds (not loft) to a higher level in order to maximize storage below the bed. Dorm furniture packages often include 3-drawer dressers which fit nicely under a fully raised bed. You can read more about bed heights in Dorm IQ Topic 5: A Guide To Dorm Bed Heights.

3. Triples and Quad Rooms

Triple Dorm Room With 1 Bunk & 1 Lofted Bed
A triple dorm room layout with 1 set of bunk beds & 1 fully lofted bed.

Some rooms are large enough to support 3 or 4 separate twin beds along with a dresser and desk per bed.

And some are not. In this current environment with large freshmen classes, some colleges are resorting to turning traditional double rooms into triples by bunking one set of beds along with a single bed. Not ideal, but there are lots of students managing this setup currently. Closet and storage space will be very tight, so a good plan and equitable distribution of space is encouraged.

For those who don’t mind a crowd, triples and quads offer a communal living experience, often at a lower cost. These rooms require good communication and organizational skills, as space can get tight.

4. Suite-Style/Apartment-Style Dorm Rooms

4 bedroom 2 bath suite style dorm room
A common 4BR/2BA suite-style dorm layout.

Suite-style dorms, also called apartment-style dorms, feature several bedrooms sharing a common living area and at least one bathroom. This option blends privacy with the social aspects of dorm living and is a good fit for those who enjoy a community vibe and a quieter place to hang out.

The picture above shows a suite-style dorm room with 4 private bedrooms. There are also suite-style configurations with double bedrooms like the double dorm rooms in #2 above. The picture below shows a dorm setup with 2 double rooms, each with their own small bathroom and a shared living/kitchen space between them. There are many different suite-style configurations out there!

Double Rooms In a Suite-Style Dorm Residence Hall
A suite-style dorm layout with double bedrooms.

Types Of College dorm Bathrooms

Where there are several types of dorm room layouts out there, there are also different setups for college dorm bathrooms. We parents may only remember the community bath at the end of the hall, but so many move-in pictures in our Dorm Shopping Facebook group showed us private shared bath after private shared bath in 2023.

1. Community Bathrooms

Dorm Residence Hall Community Bathroom
A community bathroom in a college dorm residence hall.

Typically found at the end of the dorm hallway, community bathrooms are shared by all the residents of that floor. While not as private, they’re cleaned regularly by maintenance staff, which is a plus. That said, you may have to wait for an open shower, sink or toilet stall at busy times.

Shower caddies, inexpensive indoor/outdoor slippers and patience are necessary when living in a residence hall with community bathrooms.

2. Private Shared Dorm Bathrooms

2 Double Dorm Room With Private Bathroom
A small private bath between 2 double dorm rooms.

Some dorms offer a bathroom shared between two rooms rather than one large community bathroom at the end of the hall. While these shared private baths are a step up in privacy from community bathrooms, students must take on the responsibility of cleaning the bathrooms and providing the paper products. Schedules may be necessary as well.

The photo above is from the dorm at Auburn University where my current freshman is living. The dorm was built in 1934, and that bathroom has ZERO storage space other than a somewhat deep window ledge. Also ZERO air circulation. It is a tiny pedestal sink with all exposed plumbing below making it impossible to put anything under the sink. Fun fact, there are ZERO community bathrooms at Auburn. All on campus housing has private shared bathrooms.

With multiple people showering everyday, small private shared bathrooms often benefit from Damp Rid buckets to keep the moisture at bay. This one at Auburn definitely does!

3. Private Dorm Bathrooms

Private Bath In A Dorm Room Residence Hall
A typical private dorm bathroom – it will be small!

Similar to a hotel room, some dorm rooms have their very own private bathroom. This is the most private option but also means you need to work with your roommate(s) to in keep it clean.

Expect these bathrooms to be quite small and consider over-toilet storage or under cabinet organizers if there are cabinets. As with the private shared bathroom above, consider Damp Rid buckets to help contain the moisture.

4. Suite-Style Dorm Shared Bathrooms

With suite-style or apartment-style dorms, each dorm room will have multiple bedrooms and at least one bathroom. These suite-style dorm rooms will have a shared living area and a small kitchen or kitchenette. Cleaning is not typically included with these dorm rooms, so you’ll need supplies for not only the bedrooms but also the kitchen and bathrooms.

Suite-Style Dorm Shared Bath Vanity Area
My son’s vanity area in his suite-style 4BR/2BA dorm room. That closet was a bonus!

As shown in the suite-style dorm floor plan above, a 4 bedroom/2 bathroom layout is commonly found in suite-style dorms, but there are many variations. The vanity is often in an open area near the bedrooms while the toilet and shower/bathtub are behind a door.

The picture above is a look at my older son’s sophomore year suite-style dorm bathroom on move-in day. He shared this bathroom with 1 roommate, and there was another identical bathroom for the other 2 roommates near their bedrooms. The boys didn’t need additional storage, but girls in this dorm had rolling storage carts under the sink space.

Conclusion

So many colleges are accepting record numbers of students these days, you may not have an option when it comes to selecting on-campus housing and dorm room layouts as a college freshman. If you have a choice to make, we hope this Dorm IQ topic helps you select the best dorm room for you based on your personal preferences, budget, and social interests. Good luck!

More Dorm information and recommendations

Dorm IQ is a comprehensive learning series covering all of the questions frequently asked in our Dorm Shopping Recommendations & Deal Alerts Facebook group. The Facebook group is also a great source for prior years’ move-in pictures for decor and organizational ideas.

All of the Dorm IQ Topics can be found here.

Our complete Dorm Shopping Guide is available here.

Have Questions?

Still have questions? Please comment below, or come ask us in the Dorm Shopping Recommendations & Deal Alerts Facebook group. So much great info in the group along with hundreds, maybe thousands, of move-in pictures from 2023 to give you ideas and inspiration.

=> Please share this article with your dorm bound friends and their parents. I would love for everyone to understand the topics in Dorm IQ before they start dorm shopping!

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Important Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, a lawyer or a financial advisor. Please use this content as informational only and as only one input as you consider what options are best for you and your family. This is not professional advice.

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