How To Organize a Dorm Room

Simple Rules Can Help You Make the Most of a Small Space

Two young women in student dorm, one sitting on bed, other at desk
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Given how ridiculously tiny the room might be, knowing how to organize a dorm room can be a challenge. So just what can you do to make the most of what space you do have?

  1. Don't have anything in the room that serves only one function. Sure, that plug-in grilled cheese maker seems cool, but it takes up a lot of space and can only do one thing. Make sure that every item in your room serves more than one function. For example, pick a speaker system for your iPhone that charges it at the same time. Use a throw on your bed that you can also take to football games when it gets cold outside. You're paying a lot for that little room -- make sure your stuff is earning its keep, too!
  2. Think about the actual number of things you'll really need at any time. Do you really need 20 highlighters? Or will 5 do? Let your campus bookstore be the one to keep things in stock; you can always run down there and get more of any supply (or borrow some from your roommate or friends down the hall).
  3. Split things with your roommate. Do you really need two printers? Two mini-fridges? Two MLA manuals? Of course, if sharing makes things get sticky, avoid this rule ... but, most likely, you and your roommate can make things work out by sharing some of the most important stuff. And you can save some sacred space (and cash) in the meantime.
  4. Avoid empty space. You probably have a duffel bag or suitcase for your trips home (or elsewhere). When you store them in your closet, don't store them empty. Put out-of-season clothes, big jackets, blankets, and anything else that will fit inside of them. Is there room under your bed? Buy storage boxes and cram in as much as you can. You'll still have your stuff accessible -- but no longer in the way.
  5. Aim for keeping things organized as often as you can. You may hear echoes of your mother in this rule, but it's true: in a space that is especially small, keeping things organized will make the space seem larger. If you're pulling an all-nighter, getting everything off your desk except the stuff you need will help as your ability to focus starts to fade. If you like to read and study on your bed, being able to do so without having to fight for space with your laundry will make it easier -- on both your body and your brain.