College dorm rooms can present a massive problem to students who are unaccustomed to them: too much stuff in too little space. Clothes, books, shoes, and all varieties of other necessities and luxuries can take up massive amounts of space and leave you crawling over your roommate to get to anything. However, the skilled dorm room designer can avoid this problem by carefully arranging their room to maximize storage space as well as comfort. Here is how it is done.
The bed issue comes first. If you are not in one of those dorms that has beds that are permanently affixed to the floor then you need to move them. One bed should be lofted, with the other springs and mattress either being used to make a bunk bed or stored in the corner between the wall and the bed frame to allow for a futon to go under the bed. A cheap futon costs about $100 and can often be more comfortable than the mattresses issued by the university. The futon not only serves as a bed but also as a very useful couch for studying, watching TV, and playing video games on.
The next step involves moving the dressers. They should either be placed next to one another across from the beds, one on top of the other across from them, or placed on either side of the refrigerator across from the beds. The last setup is highly preferable, as this will allow for space for a microwave, television, video game systems, and even a surround sound system on top of your storage space for clothing and your mini fridge. With the help of a futon this setup makes a great “dorm theater”.
Now for the desks. Moving one desk up against the wall between the bed setup and your dressers and the other butted up against the end of the beds or against the opposite wall will provide maximum breathing room for both roommates. The desk not between the beds and dressers is a tricky option. If it is placed against the bed then the roommate who uses that desk has the ability to watch television from their desk while studying or playing on the computer, but they will have to have enough free space on the desk to climb up on it to get in bed. Putting it against the wall gives you the opposite problem. The choice is yours though.
Hey, now you actually get to move your things in! Start with big items like the futon, the computers, refrigerator, and microwave. You should have some plastic bins and some form of foot lockers as well. The plywood military-style footlockers work best for this, as they have plenty of bottom space as well as a tray for smaller items. This allows you to store items such as movies, video games, or snacks with incredible organization. Empty any plastic tubs you brought into dresser or desk drawers, stack them inside each other, and then place them in the corner between the far dresser and the adjacent desk. Now take one foot locker and put it on top. This gives you easy access to the foot locker without it being in the way, and you can always put things like books on it temporarily while you study. The other footlocker should go in front of the beds/futon. This may seem like an odd place for it, but it will make a great makeshift coffee table. Placing things like magazines on it can make it feel just like your parents’ living room back home!
Now bring in your clothes. Hang up as much of them as possible. Pants, dress shirts, coats long skirts, and dresses should be hung up first, as other items do not take up much room and can fit nicely in your dresser. Place all other clothes in dresser drawers in categories such as socks and underwear, shorts, and t-shirts. As for shoes, guys will probably have no real issue finding room for the three pairs that they own, but girls can be a different matter altogether. Get a hanging shoe organizer and put it on the door, sharing it with your roommate for any of your overflow that did not fit in the closet floor. If that is still not enough room then consider either having the bottom bed at a height that allows an organizer to go under the bed or putting the futon up on cinder blocks and lining shoes up under it.
Shower, shaving, and other hygiene items should stay in the bathroom area. Organize them according to the space you have.
School supplies such as pens, post its, and calculators can go in your main desk drawer. Books can go on the shelves that you will likely have. Other things such as food, DVDs, and video games can go on other shelves. It is easiest to share space for these items. Food can be purchased together for items that both roommates enjoy. Share them roughly evenly and you will have more room for variety.
Of course this layout cannot always be followed exactly, but you get the general idea. Adjust your space as you must, but try to use as much improvised counter space as possible. Feel lucky if you can set your dorm room up exactly like this though, as it provides the maximum fun, personal space, and comfort possible.