How to Create Extra Space in Your Tiny Dorm Room

Krista Diamond | Sep 26, 2016 @ 10:00 AM

If your first glimpse into a dorm room was through the lens of Instagram, a Pinterest board, or literally any teen comedy from the late 90’s, you were probably just the teeniest bit disappointed when you saw the real thing. Sitcoms and ads often depict dorm rooms as palatial spaces with ample sunlight and furniture that looks like it came straight from an Anthropologie catalogue. Where are those dorms? If you’re working with a 15x15 room, a single shared closet and a dresser that’s just as tiny as it is hideous, you might think that you’re doomed to four years of drowning in your own possessions—or worse, leaving them all with your parents. Fortunately, there’s hope. Don’t pick and choose between outfits when it comes time to pack for college. Follow these tips and bring them all.

Utilize the Space Under Your Bed

The most famous of all dorm room hacks has got to be the space under your bed. Get an extra few inches of storage space with bed risers like these ones that are probably actual magic because they come with built-in outlets so you can charge your phone while you check Facebook from bed. When it comes to deciding what you’ll keep under there, try to view it as a space for frequently used items rather than all of that junk you’ll forget about until it’s time to move out. A great way to do this is to buy an underbed box on wheels. It easily slides in and out, and you can even ditch the lid for easier access. Admittedly, the sight of a bunch of stuff under a raised bed isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing thing in the world, so if it bugs you, buy a bed skirt. Options exist besides the frilly one at your grandmother’s house, we promise.

Look for Furniture That Does Double-Duty

If the industrial looking furniture provided by your college doesn’t exactly make you feel at home right away, you might want to consider sprucing your dorm up a bit with some of your own pieces. Try to choose items that also act as additional storage. A storage ottoman offers crucial extra seating and a place to keep clutter out of sight. You can find coffee tables, chairs and plenty of other types of furniture that perform the same function.

Use an Over-The-Door Shoe Organizer for More Than Just Shoes

Have a million shoes? An over-the-door shoe organizer can free up some serious closet space. But don’t count it out just because your shoe collection is only limited to a single pair of Converse. An over-the-door shoe organizer can also be used to keep t-shirts (roll them instead of folding them), makeup, hair styling tools, school supplies or anything else that fits.

Buy Cute Baskets to Wrangle Scattered Stuff

Because dorm rooms are so tiny, it’s important to put some thought into how you use the limited amount of storage space you’ve been provided with. As a result, all of those items that don’t belong in a certain category can seem impossible to organize. Instead of leaving them strewn about, buy a few baskets in your material and pattern of choice (Target has a selection that’s so insane you’re bound to find at least one you like). You can place a few on top of your refrigerator or microwave to keep non-perishable snacks in one place. You can put one on your desk to organize notebooks. You can keep one next to the door for purses or whatever other items you tend to toss somewhere as soon as you enter your room. Having a few cute baskets in a few key places won’t just create more storage space in your dorm; it’ll help keep it tidy with minimal effort on your part.

Consider Wall Shelving

Wall shelving might sound like something that requires a power drill and/or a hard hat, but it can actually be much, much simpler than that. Instead of looking for heavy duty shelving units, look for display shelves. They’re typically much easier to hang and are often much more attractive too. You can use them to keep essentials right alongside that framed picture of you and your friends. If you’re on the top bunk and don’t have access to a nightstand, you can use one to keep your alarm clock, phone and that book you like to read before you go to sleep all within arm’s reach.

Get a Portable Closet

To preface this, we just want to remind you that before purchasing furniture, making major decorating moves or doing a little feng shui in your dorm, you should always get the go-ahead from your roomie. One such example is a portable closet or wardrobe. After all, if you’re unhappy with that cramped closet, why not just bring your own? A portable closet doesn’t have to be expensive or heavy either. It can be cheap and simple or so sleek and stylish you’ll want to keep it long past college. If you’ve got a few feet of space that you don’t mind sacrificing, you can have a whole extra closet. Instant game-changer.

Rent a Storage Unit

Sometimes in the battle for making every single thing you own fit into a closet-sized room, the time comes to admit defeat. If that happens, you’ll be pleased to learn that finding a storage unit is not only easy to do online, it’s cheaper than you might think thanks to student specials and low rates on smaller units. Best of all, leases are typically month-to-month, meaning that you’ll never feel like you’re locked into paying for your storage unit should you no longer need it. Other features like online bill-pay and facilities that offer moving supplies make the entire process seamless. Can you imagine what it would be like if you didn’t have to keep your smelly athletic equipment in your closet all semester? Rent a storage unit and we promise that your dorm room—and we’re guessing your roommate—will thank you.