21 Dorm Room Storage Ideas That Make the Most of Your Small Space

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college student reading textbook on bed
Moyo Studio / Getty Images

Of all the experiences facing new college freshmen, sharing a tiny space with a total stranger may be one of the most daunting. And even if the coronavirus pandemic has changed your return-to-school plans—instead of living in a college dormitory for your first semester, you might be transforming your childhood bedroom into a new study space—making the most of every inch of space you do have for learning is so important. After all, everything from getting along with a new roommate to staying focused during your very first Zoom lecture is a lot easier when you aren't stressed out by a messy, disorganized room.

Whether you're ordering dorm (or bedroom) décor from high-end home retailers or looking for budget-friendly decorating options, your favorite stores—from Anthropologie to Target—have plenty of genius ideas that are just right for small space organizing. Add stacking baskets and sleek caddies to hold books, electronics, and dishes; top your desk with a hanging file frame to organize your essential papers; and store extra blankets in a lidded, upholstered cube. Make the most of your closet space with organizers hanging on the closet rail, attached to the shelf, or secured on the back of the door, and keep small items tidy with clear makeup storage trays. Electronic must-haves—like bed risers with extra outlets and surge protectors with USB ports—guarantee that you're never caught with a dying laptop battery during a can't-miss study session or video call with your advisor. Full-length mirrors, collapsible laundry baskets, and pretty lamps turn a generic room into a space that truly feels like yours—even if you have to share it. And if it's a space that's already been yours for years, all of these pieces can help freshen up the look of your bedroom and make it more functional, effectively helping you feel like you've transitioned into this next phase of life.

For those that love a DIY project, we have plenty of dorm room storage ideas that you can craft yourself, like our DIY Earring Holder and surprisingly versatile spice racks. Larger-scale projects, like wall-mounted pegboards and Fold-Down Desks, add extra storage in unexpected places. Ahead, explore more small space dorm room storage ideas to make your new place feel like home—no matter if you're an incoming freshman or are starting your senior year.

01 of 21

Bedside Storage Caddies

stackers bedside storage caddies
Courtesy of The Container Store

If your small space doesn't allow for a bedside table, keep essentials close with a bedside storage caddy. The linen caddy has a longer piece that slips underneath your mattress, allowing the five-pocket organizer to hang within reach. Cable loops let you charge your phone and small electronics while the larger pockets hold tablets, magazines, and textbooks for midnight cram sessions.

Shop Now: Stackers Bedside Storage Caddies, $29.99, containerstore.com.

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Under-the-Shelf Rack

martha stewart under shelf rack
Courtesy of Macy's

A sleek white carbon steel basket slides over an existing shelf in a standard-issue dorm room closet to create additional storage for sandals, bathing suits, or winter hats and gloves; if your room comes with a wall-mounted shelf over your desk, install several of these next to each other to create an easy-to-reach spot for your chargers, textbooks, and earbuds.

Shop Now: Martha Stewart Under Shelf Rack, $42, macys.com.

03 of 21

Storage Cube with Lid

pottery barn marlow storage cube
Courtesy of Pottery Barn

A lidded storage cube becomes a handy spot for storing just about anything, from extra blankets and sheets to shoes or video games. Choose one in a muted color with elevated details—like a tufted button top and engineered hardwood frame—so that it will last long after you've moved into your first apartment.

Shop Now: Pottery Barn "Marlow" Storage Cube, from $129, potterybarn.com.

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Slim Table Lamp

martha stewart kenley table lamp
Courtesy of Wayfair

A utilitarian desk lamp gets a modern makeover with a sleek gold finish, a geometric angled arm (that you can hang your college ID from), and a light-filtering shade that allows you to brighten up your study area. The classic look is a foolproof mix of form and function.

Shop Now: Martha Stewart "Kenley" Table Lamp, $186.99, wayfair.com.

05 of 21

Hanging File Folders

project 62 hanging file holder with folders in gold and black grid
Courtesy of Target

Even if most of your schoolwork happens online, having a dedicated spot to organizing important papers—like a printout of your syllabus, drafts of the paper you're researching, and tickets to the next home football game—is essential. A minimalist gold-framed holder offers plenty of storage when paired with subtle black folders but won't take up too much valuable desk space.

Shop Now: Project 62 Hanging File Holder with Folders in Gold/Black Grid, $12.99, target.com.

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Over-the-Door Hooks

org zenna over the door 5-hook rack
Courtesy of Bed Bath & Beyond

Make the most of every part of your small space with a set of over-the-door hooks. Hang wet towels, your robe, and your shower caddy on it to keep your mornings running smoothly, or use it for rain jackets after a storm, snowy coats in winter, or full-length gowns for the upcoming formal.

Shop Now: Org "Zenna" Over the Door 5-Hook Rack, $19.99, bedbathandbeyond.com.

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Basket Tower

anthropologie clancy basket tower
Courtesy of Anthropologie

When you don't have much floor space, smart organizers think vertically. Hexagon-shaped metal baskets stack in several different ways, allowing you to find a perfect fit between other pieces of furniture or as a statement piece on their own, and offer just the right amount of space for extra towels, favorite novels, or your prettiest sweaters.

Shop Now: Anthropologie "Clancy" Basket Tower, $258, anthropologie.com.

08 of 21

Bed Risers with Outlet Ports

hold n storage bed risers with power outlet and usb ports
Courtesy of Amazon

Using bed risers to gain extra storage space under your sleeping area is a time-honored dorm room trick—but opting for risers with outlet and USB ports, which connect to a power source at the wall, means you won't lose access to precious plug locations under the bed.

Shop Now: Hold'n Storage Bed Risers with Power Outlet and USB Ports, $31.87 for set of 4, amazon.com.

09 of 21

Surge Protector and Charging Station

accell power air surge protector and usb charging station
Courtesy of Amazon

Protect your computer from unwelcome power surges (and your social life from a phone that dies when you need it most) with a multi-outlet charging station and surge protector. A simple round shape means no puzzling over which order your plugs will fit, and two additional USB ports mean your phone never needs to end up in low power mode.

Shop Now: Accell "Power Air" Surge Protector and USB Charging Station, $34.81, amazon.com.

10 of 21

Collapsible Laundry Basket

salt collapsible laundry basket in grey
Courtesy of Bed Bath & Beyond

Choose a collapsible laundry basket with sides that raise and lower to take advantage of more space in your closet when your clothes are clean and accommodate marathon washer/dryer sessions in your dorm's basement when they're not.

Shop Now: SALT Collapsible Laundry Basket in Grey, $19.99, bedbathandbeyond.com.

11 of 21

Wall-Mounted Pegboard

Bryan Gardner

While the idea of a pegboard might call up visions of the dusty basement version where your family keeps their tools, an updated option in your dorm room allows you to install baskets, shelves, and other custom organizing options without ruining the walls.

12 of 21

Clear, Stackable Makeup Storage

clear makeup organizer
Courtesy of Sephora

You might have to share the dorm room mirror, but you don't want to share your makeup. Keep track of which lip gloss is yours with clear, stackable organizers that keep your best blush, go-to liners, favorite lip colors, and splurge-worthy shadows neat and easy to find.

Shop Now: Sephora Collection Clear Makeup Organizer Set, $40, sephora.com.

13 of 21

Over-the-Door Mirror

crate and barrel over the door mirror
Courtesy of Crate and Barrel

From the perfect first day-of-class outfit to head-to-toe first date looks, a full-length mirror helps you ace your personal style—and an over the door option means you won't have to trade floor space for fashion.

Shop Now: Crate & Barrel Over the Door Mirror, $99, crateandbarrel.com.

14 of 21

Cotton Underbed Storage Bag

cotton under the bed storage bags
Courtesy of the Container Store

Plastic under bed bins may work for your extra shampoo, notebooks, and paper towels, but if you're storing out-of-season clothes, extra blankets, or spare sheets, opt for a cotton under bed storage bag instead: Since they're made of breathable fabric, they allow air to circulate, keeping your linens and textiles fresh.

Shop Now: The Container Store Natural Cotton/PEVA Storage Bags, from $12.99, containerstore.com.

15 of 21

Hanging Door Organizer

honey-can-do over the door hanging organizer
Courtesy of Nordstrom Rack

Take advantage of deeper closets with an over-the-door organizer that lets you keep small items organized—and out of sight. From jewelry, scarves, and socks to makeup, sunglasses, and wristlets, pockets in varying sizes offer space for all of your favorite accessories.

Shop Now: Honey-Can-Do Over the Door Hanging Organizer, $49.97, nordstromrack.com.

16 of 21

Hanging Closet Shoe Storage

pottery barn teen hanging closet shoe storage
Courtesy of Pottery Barn Teen

While many shoe organizers use the back of a closet door to store footwear, one that hangs on the closet rail lets you keep all of your flip-flips, loafers, heels, and sneakers up off the floor while using your door for other storage opportunities. And if you don't need it for shoes, try storing rolled t-shirts, swimsuits, or workout clothes to save drawer space.

Shop Now: Pottery Barn Teen Hanging Closet Shoe Storage, $39, pbteen.com.

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Mounted Spice Rack

door shelving organize bathroom
Raymond Hom

Carve out a space just for you by mounting spice racks on the wall. You can even invert one of these narrow shelves and use it as a towel-bar-slash-accessories-perch; just slip out the two keyhole-shaped brackets on the back, flip them, pop them back in, and hang it upside down. Behold: Your very own stress-free dressing station, with no one knocking to come in.

Shop Now: IKEA Bekväm Spice Racks, $5 each, ikea.com.

18 of 21

DIY Fold-Down Desk

pull down desk on bookshelf
Ngoc Minh Ngo

Create your own ideal study spot with a fold-down desk that fits in even the smallest of spaces. Incorporating a desk into a wall of bookshelves makes it easy to keep the rest of your study materials nearby—but folding it up when you're not using it provides a more spacious (and stress-free) spot for relaxing.

19 of 21

DIY Earring Holder

diy wood triangle earring holder
Anusha Rajeswaran

Turn your jumbled jewelry into a pretty art piece with a DIY earring holder. The classic triangle shape adds a modern element to your dresser, while the display of your favorite sparkling studs, drop gems, and delicate hoops adds color and interest to your space.

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Shaker Peg Rail

bathroom wall accents
Janelle Jones

No hook system is simpler than a Shaker peg rail, which uses a slim wooden backing board and sturdy cylindrical pegs to create a versatile spot to hang just about anything: Favorite photos with wire hangers, backpacks and tote bags, clothes and towels, or even plants and framed mirrors.

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Open shelving may be the most versatile organizing option for any dorm room or small space, whether it creates a higher storage spot in your closet, replaces a bedside table, or adds an area for books and photos next to your desk. Style your shelves by grouping objects of similar colors and adding textures with containers in different materials—porcelain, fabric, metal—for a neatly kept space with plenty of personality.

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