After several years of uncertain college arrivals and departures, students and parents are hoping that this semester’s move-in will be a return to normal. Still, there are plenty of preparations required for a smooth transition. The list of supplies a student needs to live comfortably is long, and the room is small.
How to keep a dorm room organized
Start by doing your homework. Each school has information available about room sizes and arrangements. If this information has not been sent to you, search online for photos and dimensions, because knowing what you’re walking into will set you up for success.
Here are some ideas to maximize space and keep things organized for the whole year.
Make the bed work for you
Any information you can gather about the beds is key. A room could have loft beds, captains’ beds (beds with built-in drawers and storage compartments underneath) or beds on standard frames. Knowing how much space you’ll have to work with below and above your bed is helpful.
Any space underneath even a standard frame can be maximized with plastic bins, such as the 60-quart bins with latches from Sterilite ($24.99, target.com). These are great for storing boots and hats, bulky sweaters or extra toiletries. Using bed risers, such as the six-inch ones from Everbilt ($11.32 for four, homedepot.com), can add extra inches of storage space under the bed.
Once you’ve made the most of the area under the bed, look up. An over-the-door organizer, such as the 24-pocket over-the-door mesh shoe bag ($21.99, containerstore.com), can be used for shoes, umbrellas, cords, sunscreen, hats and gloves.
Some dorm rooms have small mirrors installed, but if you’re looking for something a little bigger with added functionality, try Pottery Barn Teen’s metal grid functional over-the-door mirror ($199, pbteen.com), which has hooks and a rack for storage.
Command hooks that attach with adhesive strips and don’t damage surfaces are another way to make the most of even the tiniest of wall spaces. They are available in different sizes and can hold jackets, hats, towels, umbrellas, backpacks or sports gear. There are also Command caddies for office supplies, makeup and sunglasses. With all Command products, follow the directions, and don’t hang anything on them until the specified wait time has passed. (Available at multiple locations; prices vary.)
Another option is to add storage on top of dressers or desks. A small stackable drawer unit, such as the Sterilite three-drawer small countertop unit ($14.89, target.com), can hold medications and first-aid supplies, cosmetics, jewelry, tech accessories or office supplies.
When furniture meets storage
A storage ottoman can be used to stash extra clothes or supplies while doubling as seating or a small table. There are many affordable choices available in different sizes, styles and colors. The Rump Roost from Scout ($66.50-$74.50 for a large, scoutbags.com) is lightweight and easy to clean, and it folds flat when not in use.
Consider placing a cube shelving system, such as Ikea’s Kallax unit ($34.99, ikea.com), next to the bed for additional storage that’s affordable and versatile. You can add bins or leave the spaces open.
Other helpful tools
A handheld vacuum, such as the Brigii mini-vacuum, air duster and hand pump ($38.53, amazon.com), is useful for small messes. And something that helps students organize their devices and accompanying chargers is vital. Try Waitiee’s three-in-one wireless charger ($30.59, amazon.com). Make sure students have several power strips and an extension cord to ensure easy accessibility.
Reusable pouches, such as the ones by Stasher (sizes and prices vary, stasherbag.com), are also useful for organizing cords, medication, credit cards, money and writing utensils. And thin hangers, such as the Squared Away no-slip slim hangers ($35 for 50, bedbathandbeyond.com), or multitiered hangers, such as the chrome four-tier swing-arm pant hangers ($10.99, containerstore.com), will maximize limited hanging space in a closet.
Finally, don’t forget to declutter before you go. Having the proper storage in any dorm room will go a long way toward keeping things orderly, but even the most organized of spaces can’t hold a lot of excess. Make smart decisions about what you bring. Less is more when it comes to college living; you’ll have less to keep track of, and your roommates will thank you.
Nicole Anzia is a freelance writer and owner of Neatnik. She can be reached at email@example.com.