Dorm rooms aren't known for luxury or space, but you can bring a little organization to your home-away-from-home to maximize the room. Making the most of the small space adds comfort and makes it easier to have friends over. Everything from the arrangement of the furniture to the items you bring to college affects how roomy your dorm feels.
Keep It Basic
Your bedroom reflects your personality -- and probably years of collecting all of the awards and decorations in it. But you won't need the entire contents of your room at college. The more stuff you bring, the less functional space you have in your dorm room. Start with the basics. You can always make a run home or have your parents send small items that you want later. If you can easily get back home, take only the part of your wardrobe that is in season. You'll save space in a closet that likely wasn't built for a huge wardrobe. You'll need an alarm clock, bedding, a lamp and school supplies. Check with the college to find out what is provided. Call your roommate so you don't duplicate large items such as a TV and a dorm refrigerator.
Loft the Bed
A bed left on the floor takes up lots of space that could work for other purposes. Bed lofting kits are often available for purchase on or near campus. The wooden loft frame holds your bed at about the same height as the upper bed on a bunk bed. The loft opens up floor space that would otherwise be left to collect dust bunnies. Place other furniture under the bed, such as your desk, dresser, bookshelves, storage drawers, a small sofa or your mini-refrigerator.
Try Different Arrangements
When you arrive to your dorm room, you'll find the basic furniture in place, but that doesn't mean you have to leave it that way. Try different layouts -- with your roommate's input, of course -- to find an arrangement that works best for you and the extra furniture you bring. Pushing the furniture up against the walls leaves more space in the middle for moving around and entertaining friends. You may find your initial arrangement doesn't allow for good traffic flow. Give it a few weeks and rearrange as needed to make the space feel bigger. Check out other dorm rooms. Since most of your fellow residents will have similar space and furniture, you may discover a layout that better uses space.
Organizational tools keep your possessions in order so they don't take over the space. You probably can't pound nails into the walls, so skip heavy wall shelving that needs lots of reinforcement. Opt for over-the-door tools such as plastic shoe racks, hooks or shelving. The shoe holder doesn't have to hold your sneakers: Pouches work well for organizing small things, such as school supplies, toiletries and cleaning materials. A freestanding bookshelf is another way to maximize space. In addition to books, you can store small items on the shelves in a basket or plastic bin. Instead of a large clothes hamper, try a laundry bag you can hang on a hook. The bag also makes it easier to carry your clothes to the laundromat.
Based in the Midwest, Shelley Frost has been writing parenting and education articles since 2007. Her experience comes from teaching, tutoring and managing educational after school programs. Frost worked in insurance and software testing before becoming a writer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education with a reading endorsement.