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How To Make Your Dorm Room Closet Feel Bigger

Downsizing from your spacious room at home to a cramped dorm room can be quite a shock: you’ll have a tiny bed, minimal desk space, and possibly worst of all, an itty-bitty closet. But a small closet doesn’t have to mean making fashion sacrifices. If you get creative with your space, you can make that hole in the wall feel as enormous as a walk-in closet. Well, at least big enough for a decent size collegiette wardrobe.

Practical Packing

Even if you have a car full of space when you head off to school, don’t over-pack when it comes to clothes. You don’t need to bring every last item with you. If you can keep clothes in your closet at home, do it! Mom can mail them to you if you desperately need them.

When choosing your college wardrobe, start with the basics, such as solid tanks, dependable flats, and a comfy pair of jeans. When you have a solid collection of essential clothing items, you can stretch the wardrobe you already have with standout accessories that really pop. Harper Yi, HC Campus Correspondent at The College of William and Mary, says: “Punchy accent and statement pieces give you added flair so you can get a lot of different looks out of just a few things.”

Once you have the basics down, make sure you don’t over-pack on heavier items. Go through your coats and jackets to select one for each season or type of weather. After all, you don’t need a windbreaker in every color. Outerwear takes up the most space in your closet, so the less of it you have, the more room remains for more important (and fun) items. If you’re coming home for Thanksgiving break, bring your winter coats to school then. If you’re home for Christmas, pick up your spring pieces.

Also, don’t be afraid to slim down your shoe collection. You may love every last shoe in your closet, but ask yourself: When are you actually going to wear all of them? “They ended up under by bed, in my closet, and under my desk,” Harper says of her own shoe collection. Purging your wardrobe is the first step to making your closet roomier and creating space for the pieces you really want.

The Right Merchandise

The best way to make your closet feel more spacious is to start with the right tools. Nowadays, stores such as Bed Bath & Beyond and Target, and sites like OCM.com [www.ocm.com] have all sorts of merchandise to maximize your space. These space savers not only open up your closet, but also help keep all of your things organized and accessible.

If you’re a girl who has a lot of items to hang in your closet, try Wonder Hangers. Because one Wonder Hanger can hold up to five items of clothing, they save space in your cramped closet. “They’re awesome for dresses or silky blouses,” says HC Fordham Campus Correspondent Sarah Ramirez. Hanging jewelry organizers keep all your favorite accessories organized and clear pockets make choosing how to accessorize so much easier! 

If you have a little extra space in your room, try out an extra free-standing shelving rack or a drawer cart. You can stick them in an empty corner, at the foot of your bed, or even under your desk. You don’t have to only put clothes in your closet; you can keep items wherever there’s free space with racks and drawers like these.

For items that just don’t seem to have a place, like purses or hats, Harper recommends going Command hook crazy. You can stick a Command hook onto any wall and it’ll hold up a surprising amount of weight. Try using it for your purse or heavy winter jacket. You can use these hooks in and out of the closet to put a hanger anywhere you need one.

When everything in your room has a place, it’s easy to find what you’re looking for and it makes choosing your morning outfit manageable and fun.

Sneaky Storage

At home, you might be able to keep clothes for every season side by side, but in college, it’s just a waste of space. Items that you aren’t going to use any time soon, like coats in the summer and bathing suits in the winter, can be tucked away for safekeeping.

First, start with a set of bed risers. Raising your bed will create extra space for boxes and other large items that couldn’t otherwise fit underneath the bed. Once you’ve created more room, get some plastic storage boxes. When it comes to unneeded items, Her Campus Contributing Writer Kelsey Mulvey says, “I just tuck them in a container underneath my bed.”

Still can’t find space for all of your extra clothes? Try Space Bags. Fill the bag with clothes you won’t need for a while, then use the hose to remove all the air. The bag will compress and save space, making these bags a must-have for the girl with one too many formal gowns or Halloween costumes. Just throw the bag under your bed, on the floor in your closet, or on top of your wardrobe to keep them out of the way until they’re needed.

Lay Out Your Options

When you have everything shoved into a small space, it can oftentimes be difficult to see your clothing options. If you don’t always see that shirt you love or those perfect skinny jeans, you may forget you have them. When you use organizational tools that put your pieces on display, you’ll have an easier time finding what you want to wear each day.

Instead of throwing all of your shoes on the floor of your closet, try a hanging shoe rack.These racks not only keep your shoes organized and out of the way, but they also put them on display, making it easier to find the pair you’re looking for. “This helps me see my footwear options and almost limits my shoe shopping habit a bit,” says Sarah. If you have some extra slots in your rack, you can also use them to store scarves or small bags. You can use a similar tactic when it comes to hanging up your jewelry.

A dorm-sized closet doesn’t have to be a fashion death sentence. If you pack the right amount, start with a solid set of materials, and know how to organize, you’ll be able to fit more in your closet than you ever thought possible. Have any more ideas on how to create closet space?

Coming from the small, mountain community of Evergreen, Colorado, Nicole is currently studying english and journalism at New York University. She has served as the Social Media Agent for the Washington Square News, beauty intern for Seventeen Magazine, and is currently an editorial assistant for Good Housekeeping. Beyond her writing, Nicole is an avid runner, former president Zeta Tau Alpha at NYU, and is passionate about her lifestyle blog www.stressinnicole.blogspot.com.