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Maximize Space in Your Dorm Room with These Simple Tips

Room with bunk beds and a rolling suitcase sitting next to an open window.
Taesik Park/Shutterstock

Living in a dorm comes with plenty of challenges. You might have noisy neighbors, a difficult roommate, or annoying rules to follow. But one dorm room challenge is universal: not having enough space.

Limited space is challenging to deal with (and live in)—especially if you’re used to your own room or a large home. But there are lots of benefits to living in a small space. For one, you spend less time cleaning because, well, there’s not much to clean! And you won’t spend as much money on new stuff because you don’t have anywhere to put it. Over time, you might even find you enjoy living in a small space.

A few smart organizational choices can make a small room feel much larger. Here’s how to maximize the space in your dorm room or apartment, so it feels cute, cozy, and uncluttered.

Maximize Vertical Space

One of the main challenges of living in a dorm room is you can’t damage the room in any way. This usually includes no holes in the walls, so you can’t hang shelves. However, you can still maximize your vertical space in other ways.

Look for stacking shelves and drawers that extend as high as possible. You can also set storage containers on top of a dresser or the floor in the closet. Just make sure anything tall is also stable—you don’t want it to fall on top of you (or anyone else).

Create Under-the-Bed Storage and Bunk Up

The space under your bed is a great place to keep stuff. You can get bins and drawers specifically designed to fit under a bed. Make sure they’re easy to slide out so you can reach everything inside.

You can also adjust the height of many dorm beds. The higher you can raise yours, the more room you’ll have underneath it. You can also buy bed risers to give yourself more under-the-bed space.

Also, if you can bunk your beds, it’s a pretty great hack! It allows you to store the footprint of an entire bed under another and free up more floor space.

Consider a Room Divider

In addition to minimal space, if you have a roommate, you might find the lack of privacy is also a challenge. A room divider creates at least a semblance of privacy, and many of them have built-in storage. A bookshelf makes a nice room divider and can also hold some of your stuff.

Buy a Door Organizer

Any door in your dorm room can become a storage space with a simple hanging organizer. These hang from the top of the door and have baskets or hooks to hold shoes, cleaning supplies, or anything else that fits. It also provides you with some hooks for coats and scarves since, as mentioned earlier, you probably can’t put holes in the walls.

You use smaller door organizers on cabinet doors to store smaller items, like jewelry or toiletries.

Use a Shower Caddy

With a shower caddy, you can keep your personal care products organized. If you’re lucky enough to have your own shower, hang your caddy in there to save space in the bathroom.

If you have to trek to a communal shower, a shower caddy makes it easy to take your stuff with you but keep it organized when it’s in your room.

Try Adhesive Storage Solutions

To hang things on the wall without damaging it, you can buy removable adhesive hooks. They can’t hold a lot of weight, but you can use them to hang smaller items or some artwork to beautify your space.

You can also buy adhesive caddies to hang on walls, cabinet doors, or anywhere else you need a little more storage space.

Get Creative with Your Closet

You can fit more stuff in your closet with this supercool hanger hack from Brit + Co. You just hang a length of chain from an S-hook over the rod in your closet and then use the links of the chain to hold multiple hangers. This lets you maximize vertical space even inside your closet.

Put Your Shelves to Work

Whether your dorm room has built-in shelves, or you use the portable ones, you can maximize the space there, too. Try to stack your books horizontally rather than vertically. They’ll take up less space and allow you to use the full height of the shelf.

You can also buy stackable boxes for your shelves to keep smaller items organized and hidden away, and they’ll make your space look less cluttered.


If you maximize the small space in your dorm room, it can help you feel happier, more focused, and less stressed. You’ll also be prepared when it’s time to move into an apartment.

For more organization ideas, check out our guide to organizing your bookshelves!

Elyse Hauser Elyse Hauser
Elyse Hauser is a Seattle-based writer and editor with a Master's in Writing Studies from Saint Joseph's University. Her work has appeared in publications like Racked, Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and Rum Punch Press. She was awarded a 2017 Writing Between the Vines residency.  Read Full Bio »

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