How To Deal With a Tiny Dorm If You're a Self-Proclaimed Maximalist

Dorm life can be exciting, but also slightly stressful if you’re never known for “packing light.” Between the numerous face washes and the endless Halloween costumes you can’t leave behind, there’s so much stuff to pack, and when it comes to fitting it all into that 200 square foot box you have to live in, it becomes quite a challenge. Throw in the fact that you have to contain it to one side of the room, and you’ve got a pretty impossible situation on your hands. However, living in a dorm as a self-proclaimed maximalist can be done. All you need are a few handy hacks, some genius organizational tips, and hopefully a roommate who’s pretty forgiving. Ahead, our community’s advice on maintaining the peace when you have a lot of stuff in your tiny new space.

  • Invest in several caddies: “I recommend having one of those carts where you can put food on one, makeup and other personal things on another and so on. It’s cute but also functional.” says University of Florida student Viviana Moreno. Making room for all your essentials with carts gives more space to your room.
  • Add in a clothing rack: “I am such a clothing hoarder, so my advice on organizing when living in a dorm is to have clothing racks where you can hang most of your stuff. By doing this, it helps me to actually use all the clothing I own because I can visualize my outfits and it’s not hiding at the bottom of a drawer,” says Madeline Crowder, a student at Humber College. This input of a clothing rack will open up space for other necessities in your drawers and closet.
  • Have a weekly cleaning: “Clutter does not exist when everything has a place! Keep your floor and desk clear and, your bed made. Your room will always look clean,” says Mount Holyoke College student Ahlia Dunn. Taking time out of your day once a week to do a deep cleaning will keep your dorm tidy.
  • Implement in-closet storage solutions: “I organize my closet by color and then by season. That always helps me to easily find what I need for the day,” says Florida State University student Sophia Hernandez. If you have an order to your closet there will never be a large amount of clutter in your closet.
  • Limit your shopping: “Dorms can look messy really quickly if there is too much crowding the small space you’re given. Make sure to pick staple pieces that you want to be the central focal point of your room,” says Furman University student Isabella Hernandez. Deciding on what you want your dorm to look like will ease the struggles of excess shopping.
  • Use wall space for added decoration: “Try to limit decorations to stuff on the wall, rather than stuff standing in the room. Photos and posters on the wall can add so much flair without taking up any physical space,” says Emerson College student Lexi Leap. Adding wall shelves and decorations not only gives you more space to put your items but is a cute addition to your room.
  • Have monthly “out with the old” donations: “When living in a dorm, it can be hard to find room for all of your things, so it’s important to take a step back and identify what is important to you in your terms of functionality, need, style, and design and find a balance of those things,” says Jordan Farrell, a student at Winthrop University. Taking the time to redesign your look for a new month or season makes it easier to give away old clothing you don’t wear as often.
  • Sell your old textbooks: “If you can avoid buying textbooks, definitely go that route because then at the end of each semester you don’t have stacks of books at your desk, and you can return them at your leisure. If you’re stuck buying them, then go on your university’s Facebook page and tell people that you’re selling books. Nine out of ten times someone will try to buy your book off of you,” says Florida State University student Danielle Handal. Getting rid of textbooks you don’t need will rid you of a lot of taken space for new items.
  • Stow clothes you don’t wear often in your suitcase: “I have a bunch of clothes, so I keep a suitcase under my bed where I keep my out of season clothes, like shorts and stuff in the winter,” says New York University student Simi Lluyomade. Storing your off-season clothes in a suitcase can alleviate unnecessary space issues in your room.
  • Get a coat rack to keep your jackets from taking up space in your closet: “Invest in a coat rack in your room! It was the best thing I ever did, and it even adds a nice aesthetic to the room,” says NYU student Kayla Zanakis. Putting a coat rack in your room adds an essential storage unit while looking cute in your dorm.
  • Make use of under bed storage: “I live in a single which is literally the size of a shoebox, and the only thing that helps me organize my room is having under-the-bed storage as well as a place for everything,” says Pace University student Caitlin Kenney. Taking up all the space you can underneath your bed will add space to your small room.
  • Keep your things contained to your side of the room: “Try to make sure everything has a place on your side when you’re living in a dorm so that there’s a method to the madness, and so that you don’t annoy your roommates,” says Emerson College student Riane Roldan. Not only will it keep the peace, it will keep you from misplacing or losing any important clothes.
  • Keep cute containers on your desk to hold trinkets: “Clear containers are a holy grail! They let you see what you have, whether it’s the color of lip gloss to the shape of earrings. It’s an easy way to quickly get ready and have everything in front of you to grab and go,” says The Creative Circus student Kate Terentieva. Having holders on your desk for makeup, pens, and other items will make for a quicker access to all your small trinkets.
  • Buy a portable holder to hold your shower toiletries: “I bought a shower caddy for the communal bathroom in my dorm and I thought I would never use it after I left there, but it’s perfect for keeping my shower uncluttered. It’s also great for when I go on weekend trips and stay with friends. I have a secure spot to keep all my toiletries,” says University of Florida student Kirbie Mccullough. A shower caddy is an essential item to have when living in a dorm, especially if you’re sharing a bathroom with several people.

What are your tips for living in a dorm as a maximalist? Let us know in the comments below. And if you’re interested in writing articles like this for College Fashionista, apply to be a Community Member today!

Opening image by @Natalie Gruenwald.