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Dos & Donts for Organizing College Dorm Rooms

Jul 24

About Laura

I am a high energy person, and I love to see a messy room transform into an organized space. My need for order and simplicity stems from my ADHD disability as a way to compensate for my short attention span. So my gifts and my challenges are all ironically tied together to create who I am.

The key to getting and keeping your college dorm room organized is to ensure that you have everything you need, and nothing that you don’t.  So, with my daughter going off to college in a few weeks, dorm rooms have been on my mind, along with the shock of how fast these last few months with her have passed.  With the exception of enduring a day full of emotions and tears, these tips will ensure that all goes as smoothly as possible on move-in day.

DO: PLAN AHEAD FOR FURNITURE AND DECOR

If you know ahead of time who you are going to be rooming with, you may want to talk with your future roommate in advance to avoid duplication of larger items such as a dorm refrigerator, microwave, TV, coffee pot, etc. This is also a good time to discuss decorating, and come up with a style or theme together so that your choice of decor style and color doesn’t clash with your roommate’s.

DO: SPACE PLAN

If possible, measure the spaces in your dorm room ahead of time and take photos of closets and bathroom spaces to ensure that larger items like futons, dorm refrigerators, and other items will fit into the spaces available. Use your creativity to rearrange the existing furniture to create more space. If you are short on space try stacking the beds or moving a dresser to your closet.

DON’T: PURCHASE ITEMS WITHOUT MAKING SURE YOU NEED THEM

Be sure to use a college supply checklist to ensure that you don’t forget anything. Knowing what to bring will not only prevent essential items from getting left behind but will help you to avoid bringing items that you don’t need, which ultimately end up cluttering up your small space. Check with the school to see exactly what they provide.  This way you won’t make the mistake of buying a trash can just to find out that there is already one provided. Take advantage of local stores on move-in day.

When my older daughter moved into her dorm room, we held off on buying several questionable items until move-in day because we knew we could stop at the store down the street. By the time we had her situated, we were able to buy only what she actually needed and found that we needed less than expected.

ESTABLISH ZONES WHEN ORGANIZING YOUR COLLEGE DORM ROOM

If possible, create small areas for different activities such as studying, sleeping, entertainment, and eating. Store everything that you need for each activity in those zones. For example, for studying, create a place to store pens, pencils, highlighters, a comfy pillow, portable light, glasses, etc. so that you will have everything you need at your fingertips when it is time to study.

DON’T: BRING OUT OF SEASON CLOTHING IF YOU DON’T HAVE TO

If you live within reasonable driving distance from your college, leave your winter clothing at home until colder weather arrives. Swap your summer and fall clothes for your winter clothing as the weather changes. You will free up much-needed space in your dorm room closet if you only store the clothing and accessories you actually wear.

DO: TAKE ADVANTAGE OF EVERY INCH OF DORM ROOM SPACE

Bed risers and under the bed storage bins are a great way to utilize the space underneath your bed for extra storage space. Add storage cubicles to the bottom of your closet if you are short on shelf storage. Consider bringing a small nightstand with open shelves so that it can double as a small bookcase. Stackable storage cubes also work well. Over the door pocket organizers are great for extra closet and bathroom storage. Utilize wall space by adding removable damage-free hooks on doors to hang things like purses, coats, robes, towels, or your backpack.

​Taking these steps will help you keep your college dorm room organized.  It will also ensure that the things you don’t need, will not be cluttering up your small space.

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