Style, Decor & More: 6 Tips to Organize Your Dorm Space and Dorm Essentials Checklist

6 Tips to Organize Your Dorm Space and Dorm Essentials Checklist

Are you college bound this fall? If you are, you may have already started to think about how you are going to decorate your new home away from home. Decorating is a lot of fun but it also very important to have a dorm room that is organized. Keeping your dorm organized is key to keeping any small space neat and clean.

With a few easy tips on maximizing the limited space in your dorm and using a variety of organizers, you can easily create a space that looks fabulous and efficient.

1. Desk Organizers. Functional and stylish desk accessories are a good place to start when you need to keep your desk clutter-free. When you have a place for everything, it will mean fewer distractions and give you peace of mind. This is extremely important when you need to buckle down and study. A pencil holder, a stapler, a desktop organizer, and file storage, are just some of the items you will need to keep accessible. Storing items on the back of your chair takes up little space and keeps important items at reach. 

The gilded mirror-based magazine caddy (shown below) is both stylish and functional. It features two organizational compartments to hold your day planner, loose papers, folders, and notebooks and keep them at your fingertips. A 4-section pencil holder for pens, pencils, scissors, and ruler can also serve as a dual-purpose cosmetic/make-up brush holder. 

2. Task Lighting.  While not necessarily an organizational item, I feel it is important to mention lighting after seeing a few dorms with floor lamps. Adequate lighting is essential to have at your desk and a task light takes up very little room compared to a floor lamp. Keep the floor lamp at home. Not all dorms have windows or sufficient lighting to reach corners of the room but a good task light will suffice for written assignments and reading textbooks late at night when your roommate is trying to sleep. If you prefer to read in bed, a clip-on task light will be your best friend and works far better than a cell phone light.

3. Vertical Stacking. Make efficient use of vertical space by stacking items vertically whenever possible. Hanging closet organizers, over the door hangers, and stackable shelves will keep floor space clutter-free.

I love metal storage racks, but If you are on a tight budget, my daughter successfully used lined baskets her freshman year to hold heavier textbooks all in one place.  Check out TJMaxx for a variety of storage baskets at reasonable prices. Another option would be to make your own fabric-covered banker boxes and store them under your bed.

4. Hook It Up. Use wall hooks, wall calendars, and wall storage organizers create more space and storage without using up critical floor space. 

5. Multifunction Devices & Gadgets - With all the tech gadgets out there today, be selective on what you decide to bring to school and try to keep them to a minimum. Many students prefer the alarm app on their phone rather than an alarm clock. You probably don't need speakers if you usually use earbuds. Less is more when you are in a small space. If you need a tech device, look for multifunction devices, such as an alarm clock with USB charging ports for cell phones and computers. My daughter had USB ports and paper clip holders on her task light.

6. Under Bed Storage. Raising the bed saves a great deal of space and allows enough room for a mini-fridge, printer, chests, or anything else you may need in your room. My daughter was able to store two sets of drawers, a refrigerator, and a printer under her bed.  As you can see from her dorm room photo below, raising the bed was a big space saver! 
My daughter's dorm room.

DECOR TIP: I absolutely love the inexpensive leopard artwork my daughter and I made for her dorm room. (See above photo) We used glittery silver Washi Tape and a blank art canvas from Michaels. We cut irregularly-shaped rings in different sizes and voila, she had a great statement piece in her room. Use a coupon for 40-50% off the regular price from Michael's website if you decide to try this craft idea for yourself! {winky face} 
Getting ready for college can be overwhelming. Sometimes it can be difficult to know where to begin when preparing for the big move into a college dorm. Below is a Dorm Checklist to help you get started with some of the items you may want or need. Most dorms have an armoire, desk, and chair, so I didn't include those items on the list. Print the list HERE and please feel free to share with your friends!

Now that you are off to a good start, have an amazing school year!



  1. Thanks for the great tips and checklist. It is nerve wracking trying to think of everything my daughter needs for her first year away from home.

    1. Hi Janet! Glad I could help. Wishing your daughter a wonderful year ahead!

  2. I really like the storage solutions and I think TJMaxx is one of the best places to find a lot of things for your dorm. My daughter and I found wall art on sale at TJMaxx that will be the inspiration for her room.
    Thanks for sharing, Nancy.

    1. Hi OrlandoMom, I agree! We found a lot of great dorm decor at TJ's. Also, Dollar Tree is worth a look. We found items we didn't even know we needed there. :)
      Thanks for stopping by!

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  4. I really enjoyed reading this post considering I will be moving into my first apartment rather soon.
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