Moving into a small dorm room? Then you have to check out our list of 11 easy and affordable ways to organize your dorm room.

Last year I moved my middle child to college after shopping and getting everything he actually needed from our college packing list.

This was the second time moving one of my kids to school…so I was ready…I had all the tips from our college dorm move-in day post…and I was prepared!

Or so I thought I was!

He was moving into a dorm…I expected the dorm room to be small.

But wow…small was an understatement for the size of the room Gavin was moving into for his freshman year of college.

Some dorm rooms are small but some are really tiny!

And old…and a little crusty.

outside of dorm room building with grass lawn in front and trees to each side of photo

So old and crusty, the dorm was actually torn down at the end of his second semester to rebuild new housing.

Yup…Gavin was the last class of students to live in that dorm.

Let’s see how he and his roommate made the best use of their small space…

How to Organize Dorm Room Sleeping and Living Space

two students standing in middle of dorm room between lofted beds with window on behind them

Students will be doing everything in one tiny confined space so you want it to be as comfortable as possible but also organized.

Gavin’s double room was only 15’6” by 10’8” for two students.

Luckily, his roommate was a good friend from our hometown and they had been friends throughout middle and high school.

Since they had been so close it made it easier for them to both adjust to living in such close quarters.

But that room was still tiny…just look how close their beds were!

1. Raise Beds for More Floor Space

product photo of four bed risers

The maintenance staff at the college moved both beds up as high as they were able to create lofts.

This gave them some extra much-needed floor space in their shared room.

If the beds aren’t made to be adjusted you can either rent a loft kit (which we did for our oldest son) or you can purchase affordable risers to lift the bed a bit for extra under-bed storage.

Shop the Post

Click on any of the images below to buy

2. Mini Fridge Caddy

under lofted bed in small dorm room with two foldable saucer chairs with mini fridge and microwave in between chairs. mini fridge storage caddy over top of microwave

Under Gavin’s bed, the boys added two foldable chairs and their rented microwave/refrigerator combo unit.

Then on top of the mini-fridge unit, a caddy provides extra storage for “kitchen” essentials.

Having a place to store plastic cups, paper plates, and other things students may need to make a quick meal in their dorm room is so helpful.

3. Plastic Storage Drawers

product photo of plastic 3 drawer unit

There are so many different styles of small drawer units that are perfect for a college dorm room.

They are great for storing clothing, food, or any extra necessities students may need throughout the school year.

Plus, they are super budget-friendly!

4. DIY Wood Top Shelf

under bed storage ideas with cube shelf organizer and plastic shelves with wood shelf on top and two tvs

Since the drawer unit was pretty narrow, Gavin’s roommate added a piece of plywood to the top to create a shelf for even more storage.

Because everyone needs some downtime between classes, the boys had their own TVs and gaming systems.

The wood shelf provides a stable place for a television.

5. Cube Organizer Shelf with Fabric Bins

product image of cube shelf organizer

I bought Gavin a cube shelf and 4 fabric storage bins for their room.

He placed his t.v. and Xbox on the top of the shelf.

And the bins stored snacks and extra supplies he needed.

How to Organize Dorm Room Closet

open dorm closet with no door and two shelves on top with clear storage bins and hanging clothes storage with command hooks on side of closet frame, mirror on wall to right of closet dorm room door to left of closet

The closet in the dorm room was the only space for storing clothes and other essentials.

There were two shelves at the top of the closet and four small built-in drawers at the bottom of the closet.

The dorm room was so small that there were no closet doors. LOL

But we were able to organize the space well with a few affordable items.

6. Clear Storage Bins

product image of clear tote bin with lid

Extra blankets and an overnight duffle bag filled a large clear storage tote on the top shelf in the closet.

Another small clear box stores extra toiletries and first aid essentials.

7. Hanging Shoe Organizer

product image of 10 shelf hanging shoe storage organizer

Since Gavin doesn’t have a lot of shoes we repurposed some of the shelves on the hanging shoe organizer to store his sweatpants.

I just folded then rolled up his bulky sweats and placed a pair in each slot which was a much better use of space.

Pretty sure only 2 pairs of sweatpants would fit in each of those little drawers.

8. Mesh Shower Tote

product image of mesh shower tote

Gavin’s dorm was a double with a traditional hall bathroom that he shared with the rest of the male students on his floor.

Having a shower tote to carry all his daily toiletries kept him organized so that he could just grab it when he went to shower.

9. Command Hooks

product image of package of medium command hooks by 3M

Installing a couple of command hooks to the frame of his closet was a great place to hang his hats and masks.

Gavin lived in the dorm throughout the pandemic so masks were required when he left his dorm room, even when he went to the bathroom across the hall.

Having a spot to hang them right next to the door so they were easy to grab as he left his room was really convenient.

How to Organize Dorm Room Study Area

student dorm room desk with chair. Laptop in middle of desk. Wood organizer against wall to back right on top of desk with bulletin board with photos pinned on it to left and pencil cup

When Gavin moved into his dorm room the desk was facing the end of the bed.

He decided to move it against the wall which left less room between the desk and his closet.

Actually, it was only about a foot and a half…just enough room to put his pop-up hamper to store his dirty laundry.

But moving the desk also opened up the end of his bed so he could climb up to his lofted bed.

10. Desk Top Organizer

product image of small wood desk top organizer with books, pencil cup, clock and smart phone on desk

I bought a wood desktop organizer that turned out to be a little smaller than I thought it would be.

I didn’t look at the dimensions and apparently, the books in the photo must be really little books and not big college textbooks.

But it turned out to be a great place to organize some additional room necessities like tissues, air freshener, vitamins, and hand sanitizer.

11. School Supply Storage

product image of pencil holder

Organizing school supplies is an important part of decorating a dorm room.

A simple silver mesh pencil holder on Gavin’s desk holds pens, pencils, highlighter, and scissors within easy reach while doing school work.

parents and son standing with arms around each other in middle of two lofted beds in dorm room

Gavin made it through his freshman year in college in a super teeny tiny dorm room during a pandemic with all of his classes online.

So, if he could do it, under those circumstances, I know you’ll make your small dorm room work for you with our 11 organizational tips.

And now he’s getting ready and soooo excited to move into his first college apartment for his sophomore year.

If you have any questions or suggestions, contact me or leave a comment!

Don’t miss any of our tips, tricks, or stories! We’d love for you to follow us on social media! You can find us on TikTok, Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook.

Pin it to Remember it:

Pinterest graphic 11 ideas to organize a small college dorm room

4 Comments on 11 Easy Ways to Organize a Small Dorm Room

  1. Thanks so much for this! I was thinking this would be a generic kid-moving-into-dorm article until I saw the APP STATE t-shirt! My son will be going to APP this Fall and also rooming with an old friend. Great tips and super relevant!

    • I’m so glad AnnMarie’s tips helped! My daughter is moving into App in 3 weeks and I’m definitely following some of her tips!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *