Dorm Room Living: Organization

As a college junior, I’ve found that one of the biggest issues with living in a dorm is organization and space.  Obviously, dorm rooms aren’t very big.  You can’t alter the space, and you usually share the room.  This makes organization pretty difficult.  So I thought I’d share the ways I keep my space organized.

1. I utilize the furniture I am provided with.  All dorms (at least all the ones I’ve seen) come with a dresser of some sort and a desk.  Use them!  I’m really fortunate this year to have a larger-than-normal (for a dorm, at least) dresser, but other years, I’ve still managed to store all of my clothes in my dresser and in my closet.  My desk stores all of my office supplies, school supplies, notebooks, writing utensils, most of my board games, books, files, art supplies, stationary, and more.  In fact, the majority of things I have besides clothes and shoes are stored in or on my desk.

Desk Organization

I store my high school yearbooks, files, sketchbooks, journals, and the books I read for enjoyment (aka not textbooks) in my really large bottom drawer.  I also store my art supplies (the shoe box holds them) here, along with my DVDs and some board/card games (Mad Gab, Bananagrams, and Dutch Blitz).  Some larger odds and ends also hang out here, such as my sewing supplies and a large binder for one of my classes.

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I store my class notebooks, assignment planner, and larger sketchbooks in my second largest drawer.  I also store my tape, stabler, a flashlight, a small box of tacks, my pencil cases, and some other odds and ends in here (like my camera, some CDs, extra yarn (in the canvas tote), and extra lightbulbs).

Desk Organization

My top left drawer is where I store a lot of the smaller items.  In the desk organizer, I store all of my pens, pencils, whiteboard markers, highlighters, scissors, glue, sticky notes, erasers, staples, paper clips, and so on.  I also keep a stack of index cards, a tape measurer, some craft/office supplies, some rulers, and my sunglasses here.  the big black bag holds my drawing supplies (charcoal, etc.).

Desk OrganizerMy top right drawer is where I store all of my stationary and related items.  The plastic bin stores extra envelopes, blank white cards, stamps, and address labels.  I also keep my magnetic storage tins in here.  I try to send at least one letter or card every month, so I like to keep my writing things readily available.

2. I use my desk top and hutch to store things.

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My hutch is meant for a smaller desk, so I was able to move it over to allow for a little space for my textbooks.  I have 14 textbooks this semester, so I needed quite a bit of space to store them.  I originally stored them in the large desk drawer, but it was difficult to open the drawer because it was so heavy. This makes them more easily accessible.  I stacked them by height, but had to rearrange them a bit to prevent them from falling down.  The big contemporary art book is huge and heavy, so it works well as a bookend.

Desk Organization

In this photo you can see my textbooks to the left of the hutch.  To the right is where I store all of my loose papers.  I use a clipboard to keep them organized.

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Inside the hutch on the other side is where I store my writing utensils, markers, and colored pencils.  I keep the things I use everyday in the small pencil cup.  I made it out of the cardboard thing Glue Dots come on (I glued several together), then wrapped it with some strips of fabric leftover from making my quilt.  The large mug stores my Sharpies (It has a chip on the rim and a crack, so I can’t use it to drink out of anymore).  My colored pencils are stored in a glass mason jar and my Copic markers (on loan from my brother) are stored upright in the container they came in.

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I store my chapstick, coins, and old batteries in a souvenir shot glass I got on senior trip in Boston.  Our college does dorm storms (where they collect change for fundraisers/charity) every month or so, so it never gets too full.

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I store receipts, index cards with quotes, and cords in a wooden box on top of my hutch.

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The books, sketchbooks, and journals I use more often are also stored on top of my hutch.

3. Command hooks are awesome!  I use them to hang things in the closet, to hang my necklaces, and to provide a space for coats and jackets.

Jewelry Storage

The smaller ones are great for necklaces.  I love them because they don’t damage the walls at all.

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I use a bigger hook (it has two hooks actually) to hang the coats I wear on a daily basis.  Having a place right there to hang things helps me remember to not just throw my coat on the window seat or in one of my chairs.  The little area below is great for putting wet boots/shoes to dry.

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Ok, these aren’t command hooks, but it’s the same idea.  My closet has this bar all the way around the closet with hooks every foot or so.  I use it to store things like my winter accessories (it’s not quite cold enough for them yet, but there is snow in the forecast for tomorrow!), extra bags, backpacks, and the rest of my coats.

4. The closet is a great place to store things, in addition to clothes.

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I go to church pretty much every Sunday, so I more dressy clothes than some, which I hang in the closet.  Come spring, I’ll be student teaching, so this will actually probably need to expand a bit, but for now I have what I need.  I would recommend bringing at least one pair of slacks, some nice shirts, and one dressy dress.  Several of my shirts that hang in the closet are ones I wear on a daily basis, but that wrinkle easily.

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I got this hanging shelf on clearance freshman year and it is amazing!  I store my towels, hairdryer/straightener, and toiletry items on the shelves, and the mesh pockets on the sides are great for stocking up on extra toothpaste, medicine, etc.

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I store my washcloths in one of the mesh pockets.  I just fold them in half, then roll them up.  It makes it really easy to grab one (there are usually more in there, I took this photo on laundry day).

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My closet has a shelf above the bar, and this is where I store things like my laundry detergent, painting box, shower caddy, and a big plastic tote for random things like packaging and other things I don’t typically need.  My extra blankets are currently stored up there, too, but I’m hoping to get a basket of some sort to store them in for Christmas (well, I’ll probably buy them with the money/gift cards I get for Christmas and my birthday).  I really wish I could install more shelves- the ceiling is super tall and I feel like I’m wasting so much space.

5. Under bed space is really great for storing bigger things!  I store my suitcases (I have one rather small suitcase and several duffle bags, which I just put in the hard suitcase), and two totes beneath my bed.

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I store all of my shoes in a plastic bin.  To prevent them from getting stinky, I leave the top off.  I brought a lot more shoes with me in the past years, but this year, I really only brought the shoes I actually wear regularly (my sneakers, my hiking boots, black flats, brown flats, black heels, and sandals).

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I store all of my food-related items in another plastic bin (I keep the top on this one to prevent dust/bugs).  My dishes all go in here (don’t worry-that’s not actually margarine, it’s just the container), along with hot chocolate, tea, and any food I have that doesn’t go in the fridge.

6.  Last, but not least- scarf and belt storage.  I’ve done different things in the past.  Freshman year, I stored them in the hanging shelf in my wardrobe.  Sophomore year, I stored them in the same place, but had a plastic bucket to store them in.  This year, I store them in one of the small drawers in my dresser.

Scarf Storage

Check out my dorm rooms from freshman year, sophomore year (update here), and junior year (this year) for more ideas.  Are there any (really cheap, easy, non-permanent) ideas that I forgot?