Organize Your Dorm Room

Organize Your Dorm Room

Level: Beginner

It’s time to get back to campus for some higher learning. Dorm living can be an adjustment so it helps to think ahead and plan how you'll store and organize all the stuff you're taking to college. And don't forget about your roommate (or two) with loads of his or her own belongings to consider.

The right set-up can mean the difference between scholarly success and collegiate chaos, so a little creativity and organizational know-how can help make your dorm room a functional and fun space.

Share this project
Project Steps
Project Shopping List

    You and your roommate will need to use every inch of available space as efficiently as possible to avoid clutter and discomfort. Remember, you'll be living and working in a space the size of a large bedroom so there's not much room for error.

    • Step 1: Plan Ahead

      Before you move in, contact your school to find out what kind of furnishings will already be in your room. You'll probably have a bed, a desk, a dresser and a closet. Also find out what you can and can't bring. Many schools have rules against bringing your own furniture and items like small kitchen appliances. Schools usually supply this kind of information in a new student guide or similar document

      Helpful Tip

      If you are a freshman or new to dorm life, ask an upperclassman what they recommend. Somebody who has already been through what you're about to experience can be a great source of helpful advice. They can tell you what works and what doesn't.

      It may seem obvious, but when you're packing, remember this: Less is best. Bring only what's necessary to get through the semester or quarter. When it comes to clothes, only bring what you'll wear that particular season. This will save a lot of space in your closet. If need be, you can always grab more clothes when you visit home and switch out the last season's attire at the end of the semester.

      Make a list by category of all the things you'll need, plus the items you’ll want to have with you for comfort, entertainment, etc. General categories and items include:

      • Appliances – Heaters, fans, and a vacuum
      • Furniture – Bookcase, lounge chairs
      • Laundry/cleaning supplies – Laundry detergent, all-purpose cleaner, sponges/rags, broom
      • Kitchen items – Coffeemakers, microwaves, utensils
      • Electronics – DVD/Blu-ray player, TV, stereo, alarm clock
      • Bath items – Shower caddy, personal hygiene products
      • Study/Desk Organization – Calculators, writing supplies
      • Storage/Organization – Closest organizers, clothes hangers, laundry bag/basket, storage bins
      • Room Décor – Rugs, door mirror, artwork
      • Safety & Prep – First aid kit, flashlight, batteries, tools

      For a complete list, download our Back to Campus checklist (pdf). True Value® has all the items you will need and more to help you study successfully.

    • Step 2: Stash Your Stuff

      Now that you've made some extra room, it's time to start organizing your dorm. There are a number of storage options out there, so use what works best for your room's set-up.

      You can create a lot of extra floor and storage space by bunking your beds. It also creates under-bed space for storage boxes and other items. Many dormitories provide beds that can be used as bunks or singles.

      Get flat plastic storage bins with or without wheels — be sure you measure how much space you have under the bed first. Because these are stackable and easy to move, under-bed storage bins allow easy access to stored goods. Use each one for different items and label them appropriately. Storing your shoes under your bed will free up a lot of space in your closet and cut down on clutter around the room.

      Moveable storage units with clear bins are great for using underneath a loft bed or in a closet. These keep things organized and easily accessible. The see-through drawers help you find what you need quickly and since they are mobile, they're easy to pull out and find what you're looking for. Stackable, clear plastic bins are an excellent choice as well.

      Helpful Tip

      Purchase durable storage bins that will last through your college experience and beyond graduation. Good storage is good storage, period.

      A compact bedside table or nightstand with drawers is good for storage and flat space for a reading lamp and alarm clock. Consider using a footlocker or trunk with a flat lid for moving your things around campus and storing them when you get there. The level surface of the lid can double as a coffee table.

      Helpful Tip

      For your toiletries, get a mesh caddy for transporting them back and forth from the bathroom. It will keep your things organized and the open design let's water drip out.

    • Step 3: Create a "Kitchen"

      From bedroom to living room to study, you can organize your dorm room as a multi-functional space. But don't forget to make it a "kitchen" too. Try to keep a corner of the room open for a small refrigerator and microwave oven. You never know when you'll feel like having a warm bite to eat or a refreshing beverage during those marathon study sessions.

      Nice work. The more organized you are, the easier it will be to enjoy dorm life.

  • Here’s what you’ll need to complete this project successfully.

    Before you begin, use the shopping list below to uncheck the tools you already have to complete this project.

    Then, print or save your updated list and bring it to your local True Value hardware store, where an expert Hardwarian will give you the remaining tools and expert advice you need to complete this project.

    You can also shop online for these project items at and receive FREE shipping to a participating store.

    60 character limit.

    Fire Prevention Tips

    Protect what matters most with these home safety precautions and fire prevention tips.

    Learn How

  • Seal Your Driveway

    Seal Your Driveway

    Invest in your home's curb appeal by prolonging the life of your driveway.

    Learn More

  • Humidify Your Home

    Humidify Your Home

    Counteract the dryness in the air.

    Learn More

  • How to Boost Your Home's Curb Appeal

    Boost Your Home's Curb Appeal

    Make a great first impression -- it's usually the only one you get.

    Learn More

  • Pinterest

    Follow Us On Pinterest

    ​Visit our Pinterest page for great do-it-yourself project advice and home inspiration.

    Learn more