8 Essentials: Great Ideas to Help Organize a Small Space

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With new ideas and planning, you can organize a small space in no time! In this post, we will focus on college dorm rooms.

Storage ideas for small spaces is very challenging. How do you make a college dorm comfortable while keeping it organized?

Back-to-school activities have already begun as parents and students prepare for the next year of college and move into the dorm. Dorm rooms are small so planning and understanding dorm essentials are key to maintaining an uncluttered space.

It’s certainly been a challenge trying to navigate the unknown so college students may need to plan for a hybrid scenario where they will be on campus for one or two days per week, and the rest of higher learning will be remote or online. Either way, it’s time to get organized!

Dorm Room Essentials

Let’s face it, dorm life can be exciting but sharing half of what is already limited space requires good planning like shoe storage for small spaces and storage solutions. Floor space is usually reserved for beds, dressers, desks, and a chair. Adding more furniture could create a hazardous environment.   

After lots of research and chatting with parents and students who have been down this road before, here is a great list of must-haves, and a few tips for small bedroom storage ideas.

Most items can be found in the Travels and Treasures store.

  • Mattress protector
  • Linens, Blankets, and Pillows – the best idea is to purchase a bed in a bag.
  • Towels set (washcloths, bath towels, hand towels)
  • Power strip with surge protection
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Desk or reading light
  • Shower caddy/bath organizer
  • Laundry bag
  • Handheld steamer
  • A microwavable mug is great for soup, hot cereal, coffee, and on-the-go meals like mac and cheese, steamed vegetables, mug cake, oatmeal, or eggs.

Ways to Organize a Small Space

Bed Risers

Bed risers are a versatile and practical furniture solution to save space in small rooms. There are different types of risers available in the market, including plastic, metal or wooden risers of varying heights.

They can be used to lift the bed frame off the ground to make room for storing clothes, shoes or other household items underneath. Bed risers can also help people with mobility issues get in and out of bed more easily.

They are easy to install and can transform a cramped bedroom into a more organized and functional space. Wooden bed risers offer a more sophisticated and sturdy option while plastic and metal risers are lightweight and budget-friendly, making them perfect for college dormitories or temporary living arrangements.

Overall, bed risers are a practical and affordable solution for anyone looking to save space in their bedroom because it will help maximize space beneath the bed. These adjustable sets can raise the height from 3 to 8 inches.  


Racks are incredibly helpful in optimizing space in a small room. One such type is a wall-mounted rack, which can be perfect for storing items such as hats, scarves, belts, jewelry, shoes and jackets without taking up valuable floor space.

Another type of rack that can be useful is a hanging rack, which utilizes vertical space to store items like shoes or clothing without occupying much room on the ground. Over-the-door-racks can help students claim more space in the bathroom (for towels and robes), the closet for additional clothing, or the main door (for jackets, coats, and hats).  

A rolling rack can also be a great option for a small room, as it can be easily moved around to accommodate changing storage needs. Ultimately, incorporating various types of racks into a space can significantly increase its organizational potential and make it much more functional overall.


Containers are a practical and effective storage solution in small rooms. There are various types of containers, each designed with a specific purpose in mind.

For example, stackable containers are great for maximizing vertical storage space, while under-bed containers are perfect for utilizing previously unused space. Additionally, clear containers make it easy to see what’s inside, while decorative containers can add a touch of style to any room.

Whether you’re looking to organize your closet, free up some floor space, or simply declutter your home, containers are a great option.

Storage bins are used for holding items that are not needed every day, like seasonal clothing, or for holding an excess of personal things like workout clothes. If you can use the space underneath the bed, the low storage container will work well. They come in different types of material but the wire and hard plastic containers on rollers are very durable. 

Ottoman cubes not only store extra items, but can be used as a bedside table, for extra seating, or as a coffee table. There is a nice variety of colors and materials (faux leather or fabric) to coordinate with the dorm room’s decor.  

Pocket Organizer

Bedside pocket organizers are often overlooked but they will keep your cell phone, eyeglasses, journals, lip balm, magazines, pens, headphones/earbuds, water bottles, snacks, and more within easy reach! The different styles allow you to attach them to a bed or insert them under the mattress.


The utility cart or cubby storage works well at the bedside or in the bathroom to organize the toiletries. Assembly is required, but the rollers make it easy and convenient to move around the room.  Office and utility carts can be used to store files, paperwork, and other supplies. Whatever your need, there is a cart that can help save space and bring organization to your small room.

Now that you are familiar with the essentials for college dorms, you can shop with confidence.

dorm supplies

What Not to Buy for a Dorm

Lastly, check the rules for what is NOT allowed in the dorm room so that you don’t make the mistake of buying it. It is easy to get carried away with bedroom organization ideas, but there are restrictions. In some cases, items are allowed but only in designated areas.

Electrical Items

  • Extension cords
  • Electric blankets
  • Halogen light bulbs
  • Lava lamps and strobe lights
  • Outlet adapters and splitters
  • Multiple strands of decorative lights (battery operated lights is a good alternative)


  • More than one refrigerator or microwave per unit
  • Refrigerators larger than 4.8 cubic feet
  • Appliances that use more than 900 watts
  • Appliances with exposed heating elements
  • Toaster ovens and convection ovens
  • Deep fryers, Outdoor grills
  • Portable AC units and space heaters


  • Stolen property (transportation or street signs)
  • Drums, percussion and electrical instruments
  • Subwoofers
  • Bicycles (not allowed in halls or rooms, only on outside racks or storage facilities)
  • Self-propelled movement devices (hoverboards, Segway scooters)
  • Live trees or pumpkins
  • Non-university mattresses or lofts
  • Liquid or gel drain clog chemicals
  • Pets
  • Candles, incense, oil burners (if not burned)
  • Plug-in air fresheners

Items to Buy for a Residence Hall or Kitchen

  • Hot plates and electric burners
  • Rice cookers and slow cookers
  • Indoor grilling appliances (electric grills or skillets)
  • Sandwich makers and panini presses
  • Popcorn poppers
  • Toasters
  • Irons 

FAQ about How to Organize a Small Space

What is the core 4 method of organizing?

The steps are: clear out, categorize, cut out, and contain.

How do you organize a lot of stuff in a small space?

First declutter, then make the most of flat spaces. Use window sills, wall pegs, narrow cabinets, shelves, containers, and hooks.

How do you organize small spaces on a budget?

Shop thrift stores or dollar stores for inexpensive storage items and repurpose items. For example, use toy storage to clothing.

Final Thoughts on Organizing for a Small Space

Moving into a dorm is exciting but when organizing the space, less is more!

Organizing a small space effectively can not only enhance the look of your space, but also make your daily life more efficient and stress-free. By following the simple steps of decluttering, categorizing and utilizing storage solutions, you can transform a cramped area into a spacious and inviting oasis.

Take the time to assess your space, identify your needs and preferences, and make a plan accordingly. With a little effort and creativity, you can achieve a clutter-free and enjoyable living space that reflects your personal style and values.

So, why not start today and take the first step towards a cleaner and more organized home? Just remember, moving into a dorm is exciting but when organizing the space, less is more!

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