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Organizing your dorm room

Janelle Vreeland

How to organize and prioritize everything in your new space

You’ve just lugged 28 boxes, three suitcases and the mini fridge of your dreams, up six flights of stairs, past a chipper RA and into your dorm room. You take a good look around and … realize you moved into a glorified jail cell.

Living in small spaces is a practice in patience, flexibility and organization. Especially organization.

Keeping your space neat will keep you sane and teach you a few things about life – trust me, I’ve had four apartments in NYC, land of the studio. And if you’re not ready to trust my expertise, trust pro Lea Schneider, of

1. Fill your life with what you love, use and need. Get rid of the rest.

  • When you’re packing and come across your 8th grade safety patrol badge … chuck it. You don’t have the shelf space for anything less than what’s really important. Like your junior prom pictures.
  • After almost an entire semester, you’ve acquired a lot of stuff. Take a lot of it home over Thanksgiving and holidays.

2. Set lofty goals: go vertical

  • Get a shelving unit that fits over your desk to stash supplies and books. Use open spaces above closets to stash bins or suitcases. 
  • Try a loft bed. The space once reserved for “private” pictures and magazines can now fit an entire new apartment: a meditation area, a gym, somewhere to put your Wii.

3. Double up your door and closet space

  • Rely on double duty things: Use the front and backs of doors for C.D. hangers, shoe racks, bulletin boards, mirrors or hooks for jewelry or clothes.
  • Stash extra towels, blankets and bed sheets in between your mattress and box spring. Or add a second bar to your closet to store double the amount of clothes you can store.

4. Whatever you do, take care of your towels

  • Keep like things together. Don’t put a bag of chips in your file drawer and your extra towel under your bed. Especially if it’s a used towel. Trust me. You’ll never find those things again (until the smell leads you there) and you’ll make a mess eating chips over your laptop.

5. Label everything.

  • What’s yours (yeah, you’ll fight with your roommate over that CD in June
  • Where it goes (second shelf strictly for frozen pizzas)
  • What’s in it (the bins full of US Weekly from August 06 to November 08). 

So there you have it. “Organization” is not a four-letter word. It will help you. It will save you. It will set you free. Accept it, embrace it, live it, let it do your taxes. 

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