COLLEGE
09/17/2011 12:10 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

10 Easy Ways to Save Space in Your Dorm Room

School has arrived, and while you may be excited to start classes and make new friends, there's one thing you may not be so excited about: your tiny dorm room. Some of you may be used to sharing a small room with someone, but for most of us, college means leaving our own comfortable space at home and moving into a room the size of a shoebox - only half of which is yours.

So what's a collegiette™ to do with all of her valuable possessions? Leave them at home?! Not if we can help it! Before you tearfully depart with half of your shoes or your favorite stuffed animal, read our top ten space-saving tips. Before you know it, you will have too much space in that closet-sized room of yours!

1. Under Your Bed
Sure, at home you may put the most random things under your bed - and pretty much never see them again. But in college, the space under your bed is vital; in fact, this is probably the most important space apart from your closet. Crazy, right? The mind-boggling things college teaches us.

First of all, measure the space under your bed. How tall is your bed? How wide? If the space under your bed is too small, buy some bed lifts to raise your bed up and make some easy storage room. Some dorm beds automatically come with lifts; ask your RA before you buy anything, and she may be able to help you make more room.
Then, go to your neighborhood Target (who doesn't love an excuse to go there?), Bed Bath & Beyond or The Container Store. At any of these locations, especially during back-to-school time, you will find an abundance of plastic bins and tubs. Find some that fit the measurements of the space under your bed. In these tubs, you can place all of the necessary things you need at college that maybe aren't a daily necessity: first aid kit, extra sheets and towels, DVDs, etc.

2. Over Your Bed
Yes, you can store things over your bed, but how? It's simple: an over-bed shelf. The unit can come with either one or two shelves where you can store your most precious belongings (or just your school books). Bed Bath & Beyond offers an over-bed shelf that has two shelves, a cup holder, hooks, and a place to clip on a lamp. This may not be the most attractive storage-saver ever, but you can easily decorate it with flowers or school memorabilia.

3. In Your Closet
Your closet is the main place where you will be putting your belongings - especially your most valued possessions: your clothes! But there is only so much room in that tiny closet of yours, and you may have a lotof clothes. Don't worry! There's a lot you can do to save space in your closet.

  • Plastic Drawers: Any type of plastic drawers or stacking shelves is great for closets. You can store socks, underwear, scarves, or other small items in these, especially if your school does not offer a dresser in your room. We love this rolling plastic drawer from Target - it's on wheels, so you can easily get it in and out of your closet.
  • Hanging Shelf: These shelves, which can be easily found at Target or Walmart, hang from your closet rod and are great for shoes. Not only do these shelves offer an organized way to store your shoes (instead of having them sprawled all over the place), but it also frees up your closet floor space.
  • Boot Boxes: These boxes are a little more sophisticated than the ones you buy your shoes in. Instead, these boxes from The Container Store are plastic tubs that are meant to store and protect your boots. When you are not using your boots, you can store them in these boxes and put them on a closet shelf. When you are using your boots, place these boxes on the floor of your closet. Once you take your boots off, either lay them down in the box or stand them up. While some people suggest hanging your boots among your clothes, do you really want your rain-soaked, mud-covered boots next to your best dresses? We didn't think so. Instead, they will be on the floor, away from your clothes, without getting the floor dirty.
  • Double-Hang Closet Organizer: This handy tool is practically a necessity if you want to make more space in your closet. Just hang it from the rod, and you will double how much you can hang.
  • Have a Shelf? Double It: If you have a shelf in your closet, you can easily double it by buying a locker shelf. These, like this one from The Container Store, just sit on your shelf, and give you twice as much room. Some locker shelves even snap together, so you can stack a few on top of one another.
  • Belt Hanger: If you have a wire shelf in your closet, a belt hanger would be a good investment. It attaches to a wire shelf, and you can hang your belts (or scarves or even purses) from it. Instead of stepping over belts strewn in random places throughout your room, this hanger will make getting dressed much easier.
  • Vacuum Packing: If you live in California but are going to school in New York, you may be bringing your fall AND winter clothes with you this semester. To fit everything in your closet, invest in storage bags for your bulky winter clothes. With a vacuum, you can suck the air out of these bags - making them more compact and giving you more space in your closet! When the weather gets a little chillier, just unpack your winter clothes and put your fall clothes in these bags and you're good to go.
  • Don't Bring All of Your Clothes With You: We understand the thought of leaving behind a beloved sweater or dress can be tragic, but, sometimes, it has to be done. Leave some of your clothes at home this semester and just switch them out when you visit for Thanksgiving break. If you live really far away and won't be able to go home, ask your family to send you your other clothes (but only if you send some back!). This is the simplest way to save space in your closet.

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