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The Best College Dorm Room Kitchen Set Up Essential You Need

Making the best use of space in a small college dorm room is essential. Wait until you see this dorm room kitchen set up hack you’ll want to copy! It’s easy and cheap!

College dorm rooms are often really small.

All three of my kids lived on campus for their freshman year of college and all three had tiny dorm rooms.

Both of my sons and their respective roommates lofted their beds to create living space under the beds when they each lived in the dorm.

They had room for chairs or a futon under one of the beds and storage under the other.

The mini fridge, microwave, food, and kitchen storage were all tucked under the raised bed.

We shared tips for what guys want and use in their dorm rooms and you can see pictures of how we set up their rooms.

When my daughter was heading to school last summer she decided she didn’t want to raise her bed as high as her brothers had done in the past.

So we had to get creative and come up with other storage ideas for her dorm room.

Wait until you see this incredible hack we discovered that saved us a ton of money!

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Storage Ideas for Small College Dorm Rooms

view into college dorm room with storage shelves and bins

After sending two boys to college it was such a fun treat to get my daughter ready because she actually wanted to decorate her dorm room.

She lived in a four bedroom suite style room so she had her own bedroom which she was thrilled about.

But her room was small so we started researching storage ideas right after high school graduation.

We decided to buy her a mini fridge and microwave rather than renting them as we did for her brothers.

Since she wasn’t going to have enough space under her bed to create a little kitchenette I found lots of options online.

There were some really cool built-in shelves that looked like furniture but they were hundreds of dollars.

Then I found some great wire shelves that you could put over the mini fridge or slide the fridge in and have shelves on the side but any of those styles were at least $100 as well.

There had to be a less expensive option.

Metal Bathroom Shelf Space Saver Not Just for Bathrooms

product image of over the toilet storage tower with shelves

I’m sure you’ve seen these affordable metal bathroom shelf space savers.

They go right over the back of your toilet.

The four legs support the upper shelves that are designed for storage.

The style of the bathroom shelf is almost identical to the style of one of the dorm room kitchen shelves we liked.

But at a quarter of the price!

For only $25, I found the perfect storage piece for Emma to create a mini kitchen in her dorm room.

How to Set Up Dorm Room Mini Kitchen

corner of room styled with shelf system over mini fridge and microwave

Utilizing vertical space in a small room is a great way to create additional storage space.

The shelf space saver was not as deep as the mini fridge and fit perfectly on the side wall of Emma’s closet.

At first, we tried to set up her kitchen space with the fridge facing into her room but it was deeper than the wall and she didn’t like it sticking out.

Since we situated the shelf and appliances in this direction we just moved the hinge of the mini fridge so it was easier to open.

corner of dorm room with shelf unit over mini fridge and microwave oven

The only drawback to creating the kitchen area here was that the outlet and plugs were so visible.

But does that really matter?

Especially in dorm rooms where students have extension cords and surge protectors everywhere in their small rooms. lol

Where to Store Food and Snacks in a Dorm Room

straight on view of kitchenette setup in college dorm room

Using this over the toilet fridge shelf gave Emma lots of vertical storage space for easy to prepare meals and snacks.

These white plastic open-front bins are from Target and are often used for clothing, toys, or even pantry storage.

But they’re awesome for dorm room storage too.

I also sourced these similar baskets from Amazon that come in a set of four.

Unfortunately, two didn’t fit side by side on each shelf but a pink wire basket fit perfectly next to the plastic crates.

This set of four rose gold baskets could work too.

Be sure to check your sizes before you buy anything or save your receipts to make exchanges and returns.

shelves with plastic and wire bins filled with snacks and food

I’m actually glad two didn’t fit because I like the mix of both different styles.

Ready to make pasta, oatmeal, and ramen noodles are also great staples for college students to make a quick meal in their room.

Mini muffins and granola bars are awesome for a grab and go breakfast before class.

Snack size bags of chips and crackers are perfect for dorm rooms too.

I think she’s pretty set up for a while with this stash of goodies.

Moveable Kitchenette Storage Ideas

three tier black cart on wheels filled with kitchen essentials and cleaning supplies

A rolling metal cart is essential in any small space but especially for dorm rooms.

They can be used for so many things.

School supplies and books, toiletries and makeup, or kitchen essentials and cleaning supplies.

rolling cart with three levels for storage of paper products, cleaning supplies and dishes

Emma used the top shelf of her rolling cart for her cups, plates, utensils.

On the middle tier paper towels, plastic forks and spoons and other necessities fit nicely.

The bottom shelf stores cleaning supplies.

college dorm room with storage shelves

It’s important to stay organized in a small space. 

Be sure to check out our other college dorm room ideas below.

Alternative Dorm Room Kitchen Set Up Ideas

Anne’s daughter Katy lived in a dorm room with two other girls so their space was pretty tight.

Katy, hung a storage organizer on the wall next to her refrigerator and then utilized the top of her microwave for more essentials.

One of her roommates set up a coffee station on top of her mini fridge.

My son Gavin created a mini kitchen under his raised bed and stored his food in bins across the room under his roommate’s lofted bed.

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collage of product images to set up a kitchenette in a dorm room

Sources: metal space saving shelf | white plastic storage bin | pink wire basket | 3-tier rolling cart

More Dorm Room Ideas

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

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