10 Easy Ways to Save Space in Your Dorm Room

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School has arrived, and while you may be excited to start classes and make new friends, there’s one thing you may not be so excited about: your tiny dorm room. Some of you may be used to sharing a small room with someone, but for most of us, college means leaving our own comfortable space at home and moving into a room the size of a shoebox – only half of which is yours.
So what’s a collegiette™ to do with all of her valuable possessions? Leave them at home?! Not if we can help it! Before you tearfully depart with half of your shoes or your favorite stuffed animal, read our top ten space-saving tips. Before you know it, you will have too much space in that closet-sized room of yours!

1. Under Your Bed

Sure, at home you may put the most random things under your bed – and pretty much never see them again. But in college, the space under your bed is vital; in fact, this is probably the most important space apart from your closet. Crazy, right? The mind-boggling things college teaches us.

First of all, measure the space under your bed. How tall is your bed? How wide? If the space under your bed is too small, buy some bed lifts to raise your bed up and make some easy storage room. Some dorm beds automatically come with lifts; ask your RA before you buy anything, and she may be able to help you make more room.
Then, go to your neighborhood Target (who doesn’t love an excuse to go there?), Bed Bath & Beyond or The Container Store. At any of these locations, especially during back-to-school time, you will find an abundance of plastic bins and tubs. Find some that fit the measurements of the space under your bed. In these tubs, you can place all of the necessary things you need at college that maybe aren’t a daily necessity: first aid kit, extra sheets and towels, DVDs, etc.

2. Over Your Bed

Yes, you can store things over your bed, but how? It’s simple: an over-bed shelf. The unit can come with either one or two shelves where you can store your most precious belongings (or just your school books). Bed Bath & Beyond offers an over-bed shelf that has two shelves, a cup holder, hooks, and a place to clip on a lamp. This may not be the most attractive storage-saver ever, but you can easily decorate it with flowers or school memorabilia.

3. In Your Closet

Your closet is the main place where you will be putting your belongings – especially your most valued possessions: your clothes! But there is only so much room in that tiny closet of yours, and you may have a lotof clothes. Don’t worry! There’s a lot you can do to save space in your closet.

  • Plastic Drawers: Any type of plastic drawers or stacking shelves is great for closets. You can store socks, underwear, scarves, or other small items in these, especially if your    school does not offer a dresser in your room. We love this rolling plastic drawer from Target – it’s on wheels, so you can easily get it in and out of your closet.
  • Hanging Shelf: These shelves, which can be easily found at Target or Walmart, hang from your closet rod and are great for shoes. Not only do these shelves offer an organized way to store your shoes (instead of having them sprawled all over the place), but it also frees up your closet floor space.
  • Boot Boxes: These boxes are a little more sophisticated than the ones you buy your shoes in. Instead, these boxes from The Container Store are plastic tubs that are meant to store and protect your boots. When you are not using your boots, you can store them in these boxes and put them on a closet shelf. When you are using your boots, place these boxes on the floor of your closet. Once you take your boots off, either lay them down in the box or stand them up. While some people suggest hanging your boots among your clothes, do you really want your rain-soaked, mud-covered boots next to your best dresses? We didn’t think so. Instead, they will be on the floor, away from your clothes, without getting the floor dirty.
  • Double-Hang Closet Organizer: This handy tool is practically a necessity if you want to make more space in your closet. Just hang it from the rod, and you will double how much you can hang.
  • Have a Shelf? Double It: If you have a shelf in your closet, you can easily double it by buying a locker shelf. These, like this one from The Container Store, just sit on your shelf, and give you twice as much room. Some locker shelves even snap together, so you can stack a few on top of one another.
  • Belt Hanger: If you have a wire shelf in your closet, a belt hanger would be a good investment. It attaches to a wire shelf, and you can hang your belts (or scarves or even purses) from it. Instead of stepping over belts strewn in random places throughout your room, this hanger will make getting dressed much easier.
  • Vacuum Packing: If you live in California but are going to school in New York, you may be bringing your fall AND winter clothes with you this semester. To fit everything in your closet, invest in storage bags for your bulky winter clothes. With a vacuum, you can suck the air out of these bags – making them more compact and giving you more space in your closet! When the weather gets a little chillier, just unpack your winter clothes and put your fall clothes in these bags and you’re good to go.
  • Don’t Bring All of Your Clothes With You: We understand the thought of leaving behind a beloved sweater or dress can be tragic, but, sometimes, it has to be done. Leave some of your clothes at home this semester and just switch them out when you visit for Thanksgiving break. If you live really far away and won’t be able to go home, ask your family to send you your other clothes (but only if you send some back!). This is the simplest way to save space in your closet.

4. On and In Your Desk

Your desk will most likely get messier and messier as the semester progresses and your notes and assignments pile up. Just a few small changes to your desktop will make your room cleaner and studying easier. First, find a good desk lamp. By ‘good,’ we don’t mean one with the perfect wattage for late-night studying (even though that’s important, too). We mean find a desk lamp that gives you places to store things. This cute lamp from Bed Bath & Beyond includes compartments for pencils, pens, paper clips, scissors and even an MP3 player! 

Now that most of your studying essentials are stored in your lamp, your desk drawers are freer to hold other things! Keep your books in one drawer, and maybe put your hair dryer and makeup in another. If your books from last semester are taking up too much space (because you thought they would come in handy this semester or because you keep forgetting to sell them), get rid of them. Store them at home or make an eBay account, and from now on, we suggest renting your textbooks. Some schools offer textbook rentals, but if yours doesn’t, check out BookRenter.com for great deals.
If you have tons of DVDs, store them in your desk! To be even more organized, keep your DVDs in one of these storage containers from The Container Store and use the rest of the room in a drawer for other things (like, for instance, school work). If you do store your school work in one of your desk drawers, invest in an expanding file carrier. They will fit easily in your desk and make finding papers much easier.


5. Above the Refrigerator or Microwave

You most likely have a refrigerator in your dorm. Whether or not you have a microwave on top of it, use the top as a small shelf to put things on. We suggest you put food and other kitchen supplies here (it is, after all, right above the refrigerator or microwave). Buy a locker shelf to double the space, and put cereal, soup, napkins, and plates here.

6. On Your Door

Whoever thought of using a door as storage must’ve been a college student who had run out of space in a dorm. Where else could the genius idea of door racks have come from? If you want more hanging space in your closet, forget the hanging shoe shelves and invest in an over-the-door shoe rack, such as this one from Target. This rack will actually probably give you more storage space for shoes than a hanging shelf would, and you will have more space in your closet!
If you want to keep your shoes in your closet, you can still buy an over-the-door rack for your closet door or as a way to store other things. This rack from Target  would be great for storing smaller items: kitchen utensils, cleaning supplies, notebooks, etc.

7. In the Corner

Corners are possibly the most frustrating places in a dorm room. If you don’t have furniture there, then you have no use for those tricky, tiny niches, right? Wrong! Some places, such as Sears and Home Goods, sell corner shelves that fit perfectly into those awkward spaces. These shelves are great for storing books and pictures (you have to have a place for your favorite novel and that cute pic of you and your BFF, right?). While they can be costly, you can find some for as low as $40. Right now, we’re in love with some corner shelves at HomeGoods, so make sure to check there!

8. In That Random Space

For that random space in between your bed and your desk, your desk and the refrigerator, etc., we suggest buying stacking drawers. These stacking drawers from The Container Store are super-functional. They come individually, pull out like drawers and are available in seven colors, so you can mix and match however you like. You can easily attach them to one another (so you can stack as many as you want!), and they are perfect for a variety of items, such as art supplies, scarves, hats, and shoes.

9. Where You Sit

Yes, even your seat can be used for storage. Make sure to get an ottoman or two from Bed Bath & Beyond. These are great if you need an extra seat or two for friends, and if your bed is high enough, these ottomans can fit underneath when you aren’t using them! And – surprise! – these ottomans have tops that are removable so the inside can be used for storage. Put a blanket in one and a few movies in another, and you’ve got the perfect movie night with friends!

10. On the Wall

Last but not least, store stuff on your walls! Instead of putting in wall shelving (which can be hard to install), we suggest using Command Hooks, which can be found at Target and Walmart. These hooks stick to your wall and are fairly easy to get off (so there’s not much of a chance that paint will come off, too), and they are perfect for hanging jackets, purses, belts, and other small items on. Have a mirror that you don’t want just lying around your room? Use Command Hooks to hang that, too.
Whether you are having a study party (or just a regular party), we get how important dorm space is. These tips will save you space in your room and make you the envy of the hall. Have a good year in your spacious home away from home!

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About The Author

Rachel Bennett is the Executive Assistant and Office Manager for Her Campus, where she juggles several responsibilities and assists the National Team in editorial, web and marketing matters. She loves staying busy and maintaining the unique, fun culture of Her Campus through planning office events, corresponding with readers and writers and more. Rachel began at Her Campus in 2011, when she served as an editorial intern and the Love Editor before her senior year at UNC-Chapel Hill. Since graduation, she's interned with J-14 Magazine in New York City as well as for Scott Feinberg, the top awards analyst for The Hollywood Reporter. A native of Raleigh, N.C., Rachel loves movies, TV (she's still mourning the end of Breaking Bad), the mountains, breakfast food, road trips and dogs. She also loves her friends and family back home and hopes to soon adjust to the New England winter, which will most likely never happen.

Follow Rachel on Twitter: @RachelBennett04