And all for less than the cost of a college textbook.

By Liz Steelman and Lindsay Tigar
Updated July 08, 2020
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When you envision going off to college, filled with curiosity and a thirst for a new chapter, you probably don’t think about the micro room that’ll be your new home for the next two semesters. (And that you will probably be sharing with another person.) As you start unpacking, that 10-by-10 can feel more like a cluttered closet than a studio. Before you freak out, remember this: dorm space savers can go a long way towards maximizing dorm space.

With a little savvy and creativity, you can fit everything you need (and want!) in the tiny room. We’ve compiled the best space-saving dorm ideas from decorators and organizers to help you turn that boring box into a cozy nest (that looks pretty great, too).

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1

Want to have coffee while you fire off a term paper, but also need a place to keep your extra set of towels or blankets? The key to small space decorating is finding pieces that do double duty, says James Wheeler of Atlanta-based J. Wheeler Designs. He recommends a lift-top coffee table for its functionality as both a workspace and a storage unit. It can even serve as an actual dinner table.

To buy: $60; walmart.com

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2

Deborah Gussoff, certified professional organizer and owner of In Order, Inc., loves the versatile storage options of magazine files. Their vertical format is great for small spaces. If your desk hutch has a bookshelf on top, line up a few of them to hide odds and ends. Gussoff also recommends putting one by the door for an easy place to drop keys and other small items that would otherwise clutter the room.

To buy: $16; containerstore.com.

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3

For many new college students, dorm life comes with a big dose of clothing insecurity—which is why it’s comforting to bring as many options as possible. But how do you fit years of carefully curated outfits into that tiny closet? One dorm space saver hack is to hang a closet rod to instantly double the capacity, then add ultra slim hangers to maximize the number of items that can easily fit in the space. Just like that, you don’t have to part with your parents and your beloved overalls at the same time.

To buy: $13; containerstore.com.

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4

A typical dorm room bed takes up nearly seven feet of horizontal space. Just imagine how much you can fit under there if you lift the bed only four or five inches off the ground! Abbe Fenimore, owner of Studio Ten 25, a Dallas-based interior design firm and ecommerce site, recommends these tech-friendly risers that moonlight as additional outlets and USB chargers as one of her go-to space saving dorm ideas.

To buy: $30; bedbathandbeyond.com.

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5

Speaking of under bed storage, once you’ve stowed away extra towels, out-of-season clothes, and dirty laundry, you’ll still have plenty of room for a rolling cart or drawer under the bed. This way the important things (aka emergency junk food) are always within reach. Lauren Gores Ireland, creative director at lifestyle blog You & Lu, recommends a plastic container for its easy cleaning properties because something will (inevitably) spill.

To buy: $27; containerstore.com.

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6

Sure, you could fit plenty of footwear into a lightweight organizer. But where’s the fun in that? Gores suggests you get creative and use it as a hold-all for rolled T-shirts, clutches, and even umbrellas. It’s an easy way to free up valuable drawers and maximize dorm space.

To buy: $20; bedbathandbeyond.com.

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7

Taking “double duty” to the next level, ottomans add ideal storage space and double as seating. Fenimore suggests sliding them under the desk or stacking in a corner when not in use to save floor space. You can even top one with a similarly sized tray and use it as a bedside table to save even more dorm space.

To buy: $17; target.com.

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8

Creating different zones in a room makes it feel bigger and more organized, Wheeler says. A tiered shelving unit doubles as a room divider that also provides extra storage without blocking the light from coming through. For antisocial folks or those not overly fond of their roommates, simply fill the cubes with books or fabric bins to create some much needed separation.

To buy: $40; target.com.

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9

To maximize dorm space, using the right combination of command hooks can open up a lot of opportunities—beyond simply mounting decor. For example, attach command hooks to the ceiling and use them to hang a curtain around the bed to create a private nook. Or, add a go-to spot to hang your backpack, clearing up your (probably messy) floor.

To buy: $6; amazon.com.

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10

Getting the top bunk means being far away from all essentials. And who wants to climb down every time you need headphones, a tissue, or a snack? A slim footboard caddy is a great space saving dorm idea.

To buy: $29; pbteen.com.

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11

To maximize dorm space, you probably don’t want a clunky laundry bag taking up your floor or closet. Instead, choose this laundry basket you can stack and fold up when you’re not using it. Win-win!

To buy: $43; amazon.com.

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12

For a colorful way to organize a variety of everyday items—think pencils, makeup, hairbrush, papers—this colorful find is one of the easiest space saving dorm ideas. Sit in the corner, move it around as you need it to get ready in front of the mirror, and then push it back to its resting spot when you’re finished.

To buy: $40; amazon.com.

Related: 13 Smart Dorm Room Ideas That'll Prepare You for Anything