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Tips for Making More Space in a College Dorm Room or Off Campus Apartment

bunk beds with storage are great way to save space in dorm room


So, you are finally off to college, huh? Bursting with joy and excitement of the possibilities that your newly found freedom has to offer. But you soon discover that institution of higher learning fell short of its promise. With only a few hundred square feet at your disposal, your habitat for the next semester would appear only to befit a small family of mice. The fact that you’ll be sharing with another poor fellow only makes it more frustrating.

But as the father of evolution, Charles Darwin dictates, you need to adapt to survive. In fact, with a little creativity, there is a way you can set up everything you want in that tiny room and still leave room for those 5-guy soirees.


Go Vertical With A Creative Bed!

Most times, when people think about space, they consider the footprint on the ground. And once that is quickly occupied with a bed or two, there is barely any space left. But this doesn’t have to be you. You are a grownup now. You can afford to be a little creative with it.

So, think about all that untapped space above and under the bed. There are ways you can take advantage of it and use it without increasing the clutter.

In many college dorms, you don't have a lot of choice in terms of sleeping arrangements because the furniture is already there. But if you do have some input, or are going to be living in an off-campus apartment that's unfurnished, perhaps the most impactful way is using vertically oriented beds. 

Let’s take a look at some of them below.

Bunk Beds

If you are staying with someone else, getting a bunk bed should be a no brainer — especially since most college dormitories use them already. Since one bed is stacked on top of the other, the two beds end up miraculously occupying the footprint of one. The rest of the room can be used as a play area or somewhere to set up your dressers and desks.

When it comes to bunk beds, there are so many options besides the same ol' boring twin over twin bunk bed (although they will save space). Some bunk beds also come inclusive of partitions for desks, bed drawers, and shelves. So, rather than have another bed underneath, you can get intuitively positioned table tops and desk areas where you can study and store books.

Loft Beds

Now, loft beds are not so different from bunk beds. You see,  while bunk beds play the primary role of being beds, loft beds usually feature one main bed, fused with some furniture units underneath.  Therefore, rather than have an extra bed underneath, loft beds will have a fairly larger amount of space that you can do with as you please.

Some are also combined with wooden desks or creative storage sections that you can organize your luggage. They come in many stylish styles and are made from different modern materials that can add to the overall décor of your room.

Murphy Beds

If you are looking to turn your room into a multipurpose area, then a Murphy bed is your best bet. Also known as wall beds, murphy beds have the unique ability to hide behind a wall or a wall unit and go completely out of sight. It would be like the bed wasn’t even there. They are usually created to blend with your décor and will have in place intuitive spring systems, which make them easy to pull up and down. Some fold up into nice functional cabinets or desktops that you can use to study during the day.

Sofa Beds

For most college students, the bed is not just where you sleep; it is also where your guests sit when they come over. Safe to say, if you enjoy having a bulk of people over, you’d be lucky if your mattress isn’t worn out by the second semester. Well, this is where a sofa bed comes in.

A sofa bed is like a normal sofa set, only that it transforms into a bed when you need it to. They are made to look good too, so you get a stylish spot to sit on in the day time and a fully-fledged bed you can sleep on at night.

Sofa beds are usually easy to set up, portable, and safe for everyday use. The fact that they have a backrest also makes them ideal for comfort as you binge on your movies or series.

Organize Your Space: Get Rid of the Clutter!

There’s a certain satisfaction of waking into your space and having everything neat and organized. Once you unclutter your space, you instantly discover that there was more room hiding underneath all the socks and underwear unapologetically gracing your floor.

Well, just as you’ve seen with the vertical beds above, the best way to organize a small space is to utilize the vertical space even more. The next couple of pointers will leave your space looking fuller and airier for when you have a couple of friends over.

Shelving: The Only Way Is Up!

They say that the walls have ears. But in this case, those four closely knit walls have untapped potential as well.  While you might be tempted to overlook them for their plainness, they can easily be transformed into valuable storage compartments.

In this case, you want to think about modular shelving and stackable storage cubes. Get creative and sprinkle a few adhesive hooks in there as well to hang all your coats and jackets.

Since most campus dorm rooms have strict policies about sticking holes or leaving marks on their walls, there are still some pretty powerful adhesives out there you can use. Look for something that can easily come on and off without leaving stains or marks on the wall.

Some popular shelving options include:

Desktop Organizer Shelf

With all the books, clothes, shoes, and kitchenware in one place, the dorm room gets messy really quickly. Well, a desktop shelf organizer is one tool that will effortlessly get rid of all this clutter. With this, you can at least save your homework essentials and books from the unfair punishment of the cold floor. Desktop organisers will have them neatly organized and secure right on your tabletop at all times, where they should be.

Foldable Cube Organizers

So you’ve gotten your books in order. But what about all your other stuff like clothes, toys, toiletries, and snacks. For this, you’ll need to bring out the big guns. Well, rather than set up bulky closets and storage compartments, you can easily settle for foldable cube organizers.

These cube organizers are easy to set up, convenient to use, plus they easily fold up when you are not using them. Some models also allow you to stack them up against each other and slide them out like you would an ordinary drawer. With a few of these, you can even create your own cubby system in the tiny dorm closet.

Stick-On Wall shelves

Just as the name suggests, stick-on wall shelves (or stick-on caddies) are little compartments that can be easily ‘stuck’ to the wall. You can then store any small items like phones or alarm clocks. Ideally, you want to place your stick-on wall shelf right next to your bed so you can easily access it, even in your sleep.

On the other hand, if you don’t have a bunked up or loft bed, you can try under the bed storage units like:

Zip Up Under Bed Storage Bags

When dealing with small spaces, you have to take advantage of any space than can be spared. This includes the vast area under your bed. A zip-up bed is a good place to start.

Usually, these handy bags would feature sections that let you organize your clothes and keep them tucked in without getting dusty. Zipper bags would be especially good for off-season clothes or other equipment that you don’t use regularly.

Additionally, you can also supplement this with over the bed shelving units, rolling wire under-bed-carts, or one of those bedside shelves that you attach to the beds.


As you’ve seen, the recipe for creating more space is not breaking down your neighbor's wall. Well, it is an option, but nobody wants all that extra expense. The best you can do is try and manage the space that you already have. It is essential that you form an agreement with your roommate on how best to coexist while sharing the space.

Hopefully, with a few of the tips above, you are now better prepped to begin your journey. We also have another article about optimizing space in studio apartments, if you want more ideas.

And remember, stay in school, kids!