Setting Up Your College Dorm Room

Your college dorm room is more than a place to sleep, which is why organizing it properly is important. Dividing the space in a smart way alleviates the constrained size and boxiness that are so typical of dorm rooms.

Studying, eating, hanging out, getting dressed — they all happen in your home away from home, so organize the room into functional areas:

  • A sleeping space with the bed

  • A study space using a lounging chair

  • A workspace for the computer

  • A kitchen space by the refrigerator

  • A preparation space near the mirror and grooming products

The spaces will be tiny but distinct. A similar approach works well with roommates; each person has a partitioned area and everyone shares the common area.

Comfort may be your top priority, but clutter can quickly accumulate in such small areas. Try this before you shop for organizers: Set up your room according to "however things fit" — there are no set rules — and then seeing if you need organizers. Don't buy space savers until you arrive on campus, since you probably won't have a clue how your stuff and your roomie's stuff will fit together.

A popular way to create more space in dorm rooms is to "loft" the bed — to build a structure that holds the mattress several feet off the ground. By freeing up floor space, you can stack stuff under the bed, such as small shelves to hold books, clothes, food, or stereo equipment. Some students use the space for a futon or beanbag chair.

Other students choose to bunk — stack their bed on top of their roommate's, or vice versa. It's an easy way to reclaim the space taken by one of the beds.

Before you make any changes to your room's layout, consider these suggestions:

  • Check with upperclassmen for advice. They've seen it all and can tell you what works and what doesn't. For example, they might warn that you'd better have a place to store an unused bed frame, because the university doesn't offer storage.

  • Make sure your plan follows the rules. You can't hide the fact that your bed is lofted five feet in the air. If it's prohibited, your R.A. will find out and tell you to take it down.

  • Be prepared to undo everything if either roommate doesn't like the modifications. For example, bunking might create much more space in your room, but squeaking springs just inches away from your ears can keep you up at night.

No matter how you arrange your room, you'll have to return it to its original state when you check out at the end of the school year. Schools can forward to you the labor charges for any rearranging you neglect to do. And before you secure anything to the walls, review any regulations about thumbtacks, pushpins, nails, adhesive putty, or tape. You could get a repair bill for any scarred walls you created.