5 Tips for Making the Most of Dorm Storage Space

These tips will help you make good use of the limited space in your crowded college dorm.
These tips will help you make good use of the limited space in your crowded college dorm.
Dennis Wise/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Ah, so you're off to college -- eager to begin a new chapter of life marked by independence, self discovery and living quarters befitting the finest of canned sardines.

Oops. Institutions of higher learning usually leave that last bit off of their promotional brochures and Web sites. Welcome to one of the practical realities of your first year or two of campus life: If you choose to call the dormitory "home," you'll be in for a bit of a squeeze. While dorm room sizes can vary widely by school, it's fairly typical for two people to share an undivided space of around 12 feet by 20 feet (3.66 by 6.10 meters). Right. Ouch.

The typical double-bunk prison cell, if it makes you feel any better, is about half that [source: Stevens].

By comparison, the dorm accommodations don't sound too awful until you consider the space must serve as bedroom, study and work space, entertainment and recreation area, living room and in some cases, dining room, too. Now for the good news: You can transform that bland and confining dorm room of doom into a vibrant, comfortably tricked-out cave of coziness...if you know how to make good use of the space.

The secret, you see, lies in how you use storage. Some storage comes built into the room: closets, clothes drawers, perhaps a desk. But to get the most out of all the hidden storage space in your dorm room requires you to get a bit more creative. In the next few pages, we'll initiate you into the fraternal order of dorm room storage space mastery.

For this article, I asked Ellen Faye, a certified professional organizer based in the Philadelphia/Southern New Jersey area, for her expertise. You can read her complete list of dorm storage and organizing tips here.

Why bother with all this storage stuff in the first place? Faye offers the following advice to anyone who prefers to toss things in a pile rather than file, store, and keep their dorm room orderly:

"By understanding basic organizing technique you'll be able to set up your space in a way that will give you calm, efficiency and enjoyment. By taking the time to organize yourself in your space, you'll have more time each day to study, be involved in your school and have fun with your friends."

Well put. And we think that by following these tips and developing your own skills of interior design efficiency, you may even discover that you don't want to leave the personalized living space you've created when the time finally comes to vacate the dorm.