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Style > Decor

How To Maximize Closet Space In Your Dorm, According To Professional Organizers

As someone with a *slight* shopping addiction and a need to be organized, I’ve gotten pretty good at finding ways to optimize the space in a small dorm closet over the past four years (as a fashion school student, you’d think I’d be allowed a bigger closet). While I’m lucky enough to have a walk-in closet in my current apartment (don’t be too jealous yet — by “walk-in,” I literally mean it’s deep enough to walk a few feet into), it definitely took some maneuvering to figure out how to maximize closet space. With the help of Michaela and Zoe of Twice as Organized, I can confidently say I’ve mastered the art of the tiny closet.

Whether you live in a college dorm, a teensy apartment, or back home in your childhood bedroom, closet space can be a major challenge, especially when your closet is poorly designed. How do you use those wasted corners or bottom space? Luckily, these ideas don’t cost too much money or time to implement. It goes beyond just having a tidy space — organizing your home (even a temporary one) can transform your life.

“We have seen firsthand how organization changes the mood and atmosphere of someone’s day or home,” Michaela and Zoe tell Her Campus. “A simple re-organizing recreates a space into a joyous and calming zone. Our mission is to help our clients live a happier and healthier life through organization since we know that having and being in an organized space enhances your mood and overall life.”

Whether you just moved into a cramped dorm room or if you’re stuck with your adult wardrobe jammed into your childhood bedroom closet, keep reading for how I make the most of my small closet and hear some pro tips from the ladies of Twice as Organized. 

Utilize vertical space

This was the biggest tip I was told when moving into college. Vertical space often isn’t utilized as well as it could be. Whether that means using stackable hangers or installing an over-the-door shoe organizer, taking advantage of this otherwise wasted space will hugely impact your organization. This is especially applicable to that often wasted top shelf in your closet!

“The biggest waste of space we see in our clients’ closets is when there is one shelf above the hanging rod that reaches to the ceiling,” Michaela and Zoe share. “Typically it ends up becoming dead space since it is out of reach. In this case, we would recommend stacking storage bins or adding suction shelves to maximize the storage space.”

Opt for slim hangers

As hard as I try to fit more, only so many hangers can physically fit across the span of your closet. To make the most of this space, try and find the slimmest hangers possible. Also, avoid those bulky pants clip hangers that take up way too much space and tangle together, and try a slimmer option instead.

Use under-bed bins for out of season items

“When we organize a small space, we do our best to maximize the space,” Michaela and Zoe say. “Our biggest tip would be to utilize all the space available. For example, storing out of season clothing under your bed or using vertical storage solutions is ideal to maximize a small space.”

Under-bed storage bins are perfect for items you aren’t going to be reaching for every day. This way, you still have access to your entire wardrobe without out-of-season items blocking your access to the things you actually want to wear. I’ve also used under-bed storage bins to store bulky sweatshirts that don’t quite fit in a dresser drawer. Utilizing this space will ensure you are using it to its fullest potential. 

Only keep items you’ll actually wear

Marie Kondo was right: If it doesn’t spark joy, you’re probably better off getting rid of it. The first step to an organized closet is only filling it with items you truly love and wear. Think of how much your rent costs and how your never-worn sequin dress is taking up prime real estate! An overstuffed closet leads to an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality for unused clothes. Make the effort to go through each item and weed out the things that don’t fit, are damaged, or simply don’t spark joy. 

Put Command Hooks on door or walls for bags

Command Hooks are the easiest way to add extra storage for bags. I have stuck them on the insides of closet doors or walls for easy access and storage. You can also use them to hang belts, masks, or your bathrobe. Get creative with extra storage and you’ll be saving yourself space in no time.

The best part about Command Hooks is that they’re dorm-friendly, aka easy to remove. They also come in a ton of different sizes, and the largest ones can easily hold the weight of your heaviest items. Plus, they’re pretty invisible and won’t make your space look ugly. If you don’t have white walls or aren’t attached to the white color, you can also use clear ones that will blend in without looking tacky, or hooks that look like brushed nickel for a decorative touch.

Get Drawers under your hanging clothes

An extra set of plastic drawers placed beneath your hanging clothes is like an extra dresser! I buy mine at Target and store pajamas, beauty products, and sweaters in them. Amazon also has three-drawer organizer options for cheap. If you’re in a dorm room and/or have a raised bed, these are also great for sliding underneath your bed. 

Have a system (and stick to it)

No matter what anyone else suggests, you know how your brain works and what kind of organization works for you. Personally, I sort my clothes by item type — skirts, tops, dresses, etc. — and by color within each item section, and then by length or sleeve length in each color section. It might make no sense to someone else, but it works for me!

Whatever system you decide to go with, the most important part is making sure you always know where to find anything you’re looking for. In other words, we all get lazy on laundry day sometimes, but you’ll thank yourself later for having folded that shirt and stored it away properly, rather than shoving it randomly in a drawer you’ll be stuck rifling through to find it.

Invest in the right organizers

Investing in great products to organize your space will not only make it that much easier to sort through, but will also make your space look much more visually appealing. Plus, they’ll likely still be useful as you move from dorm to dorm throughout your college years, or even into an apartment post-grad — talk about bang for your buck.

“Amazon is our favorite place to shop and recommend products to our clients,” Michaela and Zoe tell Her Campus. “It is easy and quick and always has the products we are looking for. Our top five favorite products are pant hangers, adjustable clear dividers, lazy Susans, and stackable shoe racks. You can always find us advocating that these products will definitely transform any space.” Twice as Organized even has their own Amazon store, and you can find pretty much anything your closet will need there.

No matter how big or small your closet is, organization is key for making sure you get the most use out of it. Carrie Bradshaw and Jenna Rink would be proud.

Carli is a 2022 grad of the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City and served as the style section editor for Her Campus. After being a national style writer for Her Campus, she launched Her Campus FIT. A born and raised Jersey Girl, she is a huge Bruce Springsteen fan. In her spare time she loves running, jamming to Taylor Swift, and tracking down the best burgers. Find her on Instagram @carliannescloset.