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dorm room with under-bed storage

6 Creative Storage Hacks for Dorm Living

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As a college student, living in on-campus housing can be an exciting experience. But with limited space, it’s often a challenge to store all your belongings without cluttering up your room, especially if you’re living with a roommate. The good news? A little creativity goes a long way. Whether you’ve already moved into your new dorm or you’re preparing to settle in, here are six simple storage ideas to maximize space and add a touch of style to your dorm room at any point of the year.

In This Article:
  1. Add Command Hooks
  2. Use Over-the-Door Storage Solutions
  3. Invest in Furniture With Storage Space
  4. Place Freestanding Shelves Above Your Desk or Bed
  5. Find Ways to Clear Desk Space
  6. Declutter or Keep Things in Self Storage

1. Add Command Hooks

Command Hooks aren’t only a versatile solution for renters — they’re a great way to increase storage space in a dorm as well. Known for their durable adhesive backing that doesn’t damage surfaces when removed, Command hooks are the perfect way to add hanging space to walls, the sides of your bed frame or other underutilized areas. They’re especially great for maximizing vertical space on doors or the insides of tall cabinets and closets, where you can use individual hooks or a configuration of multiple hooks to hold miscellaneous items like backpacks, belts, hairdryers, jewelry, umbrellas, shower caddies and more. You can even use Command’s Cord Bundlers as a cord-organizing system, or stick a Command Caddy on the side of your desk to keep sticky notes, pens and other study items in one place.

Tip: Be sure to double-check the weight capacity of the hooks you buy to ensure they can support whatever items you place on them, and follow Command’s instructions carefully to properly activate the adhesive during installation.

2. Use Over-the-Door Storage Solutions

Over-the-door organizers are another great space-saving way to increase storage in your dorm without drills, screws or nails. Many such organizers can simply be hooked over the top of your dorm room door or wardrobe door, and come in a variety of sizes, styles, materials and finishes. One of the best features of these types of organizers is that you have complete flexibility with what you store in them, whether it’s shoes, toiletries, towels, socks, undergarments or even school supplies. As your needs evolve and you acquire or get rid of belongings, the purpose of your over-the-door organizer can change as well.

When purchasing an over-the-door storage solution, pay attention to the following things:

  • The material. You want a sturdy material that retains structure and doesn’t “flop” or “sag.” If you plan on using the organizer to store a shower caddy, bathrobe or other damp/wet item, be sure to choose a material that’s mold- and mildew-resistant.
  • The pockets. Some organizers, like ones meant for shoes, have pockets that are identical in size. While this may suit some people’s needs, you may want to opt for an organizer that has a variety of pocket sizes to allow for customized storage needs.
  • Weight capacity. Some organizers are only meant for lightweight items, while others — especially if they’re made from metal or plastic — can hold more weight.
  • Stability. The most basic organizers only hook onto a door from the top. If you need something a bit sturdier, look for ones that come with latches for the bottom of the door and/or silicone backing that prevents sliding and damage to the door.

3. Invest in Furniture With Storage Space

As is the case with apartments and small homes, it’s a great idea to furnish your dorm room with space-saving, multifunctional items. Some dorm rooms already come with basic furniture, like a table, chair and bed, while others may require a bit of upfront furnishing on your part. If you do need to buy anything for your space — or come to realize during the school year that what you currently have doesn’t meet your needs — be sure to invest in things that are either collapsible or multifunctional. Here are some examples of each.

Collapsible Items

Multifunctional Items

  • Ottomans with storage space
  • Wall-mounted drop-leaf table that can function as a desk, dining table or decorative shelf (again, only if you’re allowed to install it into the wall)
  • Nesting tables
  • Stackable bins or baskets that can also serve as a tabletop
  • Headboards with shelves or compartments

4. Place Freestanding Shelves Above Your Desk or Bed

Unless you’re permitted to add floating shelves to your walls, an easy no-install alternative for your dorm room is a freestanding shelving unit. These types of shelves come in different sizes and configurations to allow you to seamlessly integrate them with the rest of your furniture. For example, you can use a corner shelf stand for miscellaneous supplies or decorations, or over-the-bed shelving that allows you to store textbooks and clothes without cluttering up your desk or closet. Similarly, you can find variations of freestanding shelves that go with other items in your dorm — for example, shelving units that can be placed above a minifridge, above a desk or above a toilet. As with any freestanding storage system, be sure the unit is secure, sturdy and properly assembled to avoid accidentally tipping it over.

Note: If you live along the Pacific Coast in the U.S. or British Columbia — or another earthquake-prone region — you’ll want to avoid freestanding storage units altogether for safety reasons, especially if you plan on placing the unit above your bed. Any shelves, bookcases or artwork that you plan on installing in your space should be securely anchored.

5. Find Ways to Clear Desk Space

As a college student, your primary goal is to stay focused in school. This is sometimes easier said than done, especially if you have a disorganized or cluttered study space. If you don’t have the room to invest in a freestanding shelf above your desk, or just want a simpler solution, consider adding a desk hutch instead. These small organizing units are the perfect way to organize your papers, pens and other desk items as well as double the amount of space you have for your laptop, notebooks and textbooks. Some desk hutches are even modular or expandable, allowing you to adjust the size based on your needs.

Additionally, you might want to consider a flexible clamp light instead of a traditional table lamp to create even more desk space. Clamp lights have a minimal desk footprint and typically come with a bendable neck to allow you to customize where the light shines. Some even have a dimmer switch or multiple brightness options in case you’re studying while your roommate is getting ready for bed.

6. Declutter or Keep Things in Self Storage

In dorm living, every square inch counts. As a college student, there’s a good chance you’ll be acquiring new keepsakes and mementos or buying items throughout the school year, whether it’s books for class or new clothes. When your schedule is less hectic, take some time to periodically declutter your dorm or apply one of the creative storage solutions we mentioned earlier. Not only will you maximize your space, but you'll also make your dorm room feel more like a cozy home. If you need additional storage space outside of your dorm for any reason, you can always consider a nearby self-storage unit. Happy organizing!

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