In just a few weeks students everywhere – both brand new freshmen and returning upperclassmen – will head to their home away from home, their college dorm room. But it is not always the easiest of transitions, even if the student has done it all before, if they will share that space with a roommate.

Personal space can be a huge issue among students sharing a dorm room. More often than not, there is too much “stuff” in the room, limited amounts of privacy, and a lack of personal style for the students sharing the room. Co-existing peacefully and happily for nine months out of the year in a dorm room is possible; however, it requires some attention to detail, a little compromise and persistent college dorm room organization skills.

Here are some things I have learned as both an interior designer and a professional organizer that will help students get the most out of their college dorm room experience.

Creating Distinct Zones and Room Dividers

Some roommates find a happy medium by drawing invisible, agreed-upon lines in the room that divide the dorm room into three distinct zones. Each roommate has one zone of the room that is entirely their own, to do with whatever they wish, and then a third zone is ‘community property’ that is shared by both roommates.

Room dividers can help to add an air of privacy to each person’s section. You can use drapes or folding screens as room dividers. Two room dividers can separate the ‘community’ zone from the zone that contains each roommate’s sleeping area.

Agreeing on Colors

When sharing a dorm room, it’s difficult to come to an agreement on the color scheme. Avoid the mindset that all colors must coordinate with each other. Settle on a basic neutral scheme and then allow each roommate to add personal style to their section of the room. You can express individual color choices and style choices through bedding, pillows, throws, drapes or curtains, throw rugs and wall art.


Students bring a ton of stuff to their door room and accumulate even more as the semester wears on. And tons of stuff can mean clutter. Clutter can quickly make that tiny dorm room space feel even tinier. Make use of all available closet, dresser, and desk storage. Invest in bed risers to raise the bed up and then place under the bed storage drawers or tubs below.

The less visual clutter that is in the room, the more peaceful and less cramped the space will feel. If there is not enough room to put everything away properly, decide what can go back home and what needs to remain.

Some dorm rooms will have an individual closet for each student while others will have one closet for each roommate to share. Back of the door organizers are perfect for college dorm room organization, and you will find them handy on the back of a closet door for hanging shoes, or the back of the bathroom door for storing toiletries and other small items.

Toiletries can also be stowed in a caddy or bucket; this is especially true if you don’t have your own bathroom and must travel back and forth to a shared bathroom down the hall. Storage totes that stack up in the closet floor are also ideal–and remember, leave as much stuff at home as possible. If you don’t really need it, don’t bring it.

Just Organized By Taya
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