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.
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
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
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.
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2. Mini Fridge Caddy
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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!
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Wednesday 3rd of August 2022
Great pictures and tips! I have a son headed to college this fall and seeing all of the dorm posts for girls on Pinterest freaked me out. This was very relevant and great for guys heading to their first dorm.
Thursday 4th of August 2022
Hi Carolyn! Thanks so much for taking the time to reach out to us. We're so happy this blog post helped you. Because you're absolutely right most of the stuff we see is geared for moms of girls. And as we know, boys are very different than girls. My two boys could care less about decorating their rooms. LOL But my daughter is starting her freshman year in a few weeks and orders stuff on Amazon all the time. Good luck to your son and hugs to you we know this is a hard time. Check out our other college tips if you have time. Here's the link: https://simply2moms.com/category/mom-life/college-tips/
Tuesday 2nd of August 2022
Hi - love the ideas & pictures in your post...better than other dorm room posts that I have seen. I know this is an older post but where was the solid gray comforter/quilt on the left bed purchased? Thanks!
Tuesday 2nd of August 2022
@AnnMarie, Thanks so much!
Tuesday 2nd of August 2022
Hi Leigh = Thanks so very much for reading our post & reaching out to us. Your compliment means a lot to us...we really try to provide other parents with ideas that have worked for us. The quilt in Gavin's room is from Target & it's super affordable too!! :) Here's the link: https://rstyle.me/+XdMOGYaaS4_coAzhTg7Ytg
Saturday 2nd of July 2022
I was looking for storage ideas for my son who is headed to App state! My daughter also made it through the pandemic year at App in a dorm that has since been torn down! I knew I should keep reading. Great ideas for a guy! Thanks!
Monday 4th of July 2022
What a small world! What dorm was she in? Gavin was in Gardner freshman year. My daughter is headed to UNCC this year and it's completely different getting a girl ready than it was for my boys. LOL
Thursday 22nd of July 2021
These are fabulous tips! That plywood top was genius!!! I might put one in my daughter's dorm room!
Thursday 22nd of July 2021
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!
Monday 12th of July 2021
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!
Tuesday 13th of July 2021
Hey Hallie! I'm so glad you found this helpful! My daughter will be a freshman at App in the fall too. Go Mountaineers!