Making the most of small spaces

Illustration of a dorm room with many decorations
Isabelle Schreiber/File

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When I studied abroad in London during freshman year and told new friends that I was sharing a room with another student, they were absolutely shocked. They couldn’t imagine sharing a room. I personally thought nothing of it — almost half of American college students share a room in college and even after graduating. The only thing that was a shock to me about sharing a room once I got to college was the small amount of space I had to organize and store my things. Especially at UC Berkeley where sometimes you’re sharing a closet in a triple, there never seems to be enough space for everything. But having lived in so many different dorms, in small places abroad and in a tiny apartment in Berkeley, I have a few tips that allowed me to make the most of the small spaces I found myself in. 

Using the space underneath your bed

The key is to make sure your bed has storage space underneath. In dorm rooms, these are built into the bed, but if you’re a freshman right now trying to figure out what type of bed to buy for your new apartment next year, make sure you buy a tall bed frame. With a few storage bins from Target or Ikea, you can fit most of your belongings under the bed. I would put big jackets, Halloween outfits, and things I rarely used (but needed to keep) in a bin at the back. Another bin had all the extra toothpaste, makeup wipes and towels. Lastly, and most essentially, I kept my undergarments at the bin easiest to access under my bed. Now I didn’t have to noisily open up the closet to reach any essentials, instead I could just pull out the bin at the foot of my bed.

Closet space savers

Above the clothes rack is where you should keep your suitcase. And not an empty suitcase, but one filled with clothes for the opposite season. If it’s the beginning of the school year, you won’t be needing all your long sleeve shirts and sweatshirts, so why hang them up? Instead, keep them out of the way so you know exactly what your options are when you open up your closet. 

I also purchased a hanging closet compartment organizer that was a lifesaver. This organizer essentially acted as an open set of hanging drawers. I was able to fit all my jeans on the first “shelf,” all my short-sleeved shirts on the second, my workout clothes on the third, sweats on the fourth and some thin jackets on the fifth before placing my nice shoes including my heels and fancy sandals in the last compartment. 

With the space leftover on my half of the closet rack, I was able to hang up about 15 items. To make most of my remaining hanging space, I would hang two of my clothes onto the same hanger. For example, if I needed to hang up a jacket, I made sure to put it over a dress so that I knew I wouldn’t be using often in order to conserve space and keep the area from looking cluttered.

At the bottom of my closet, I just placed my iron board and iron and my laundry basket. 

Desk 

My desk was relatively small and didn’t have the biggest drawers. I kept my textbooks stacked up underneath my desk, apart from my waste bin and backpack. I then got a mason jar to put my pens, pencils and rulers to avoid taking up too much desk space, and I was all set!

I hope some of these space saver tips helped you figure out how to best maximize the space you have. Making the most out of small spaces is essential in college, especially if you’re sharing a room! We at the Clog wish you the best of luck organizing your space. 

Contact Natalia Brusco at [email protected].