Make More Space in Your Dorm Room

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super-easy ways to make more space in your doorm room

Bed Risers and Under-Bed Boxes

under-bed shoe storageIf you have a single bed, you ‘ll be amazed at how much you can store under it, especially if you add some bed risers to increase the height. Even if you only have a twin bed, you have about 16 feet to play with, plus whatever height you can add using bed risers. Space under you bed is great for storing towels, linens, sweaters, shoes, coats and other items you might not need all the time. Specialty boxes are available just for under-bed use including shoe storage boxes, roll-out plastic storage drawers with wheels, and a variety of other under-bed solutions.

Vertical Storage Strategies and Specialty Closet Hangers

Unless you are extremely gifted at the art of minimalism, your dorm room is just not going to have enough storage. As with any small space, think vertical. You’ll find lots of storage space you didn’t know you had on unused walls, behind doors, and beneath clothes hanging in your closet. Read more useful information in our vertical organizing blog post.

Compact Clothes Folding Methods

Your dorm drawers are going to be too small and you won’t have enough of them, unless, of course, you are a super-evolved minimalist, which you may very well be. But don’t despair, you can double or even triple your drawer space by learning to fold your clothes efficiently. For jeans, rolling them as you would when traveling is probably the most efficient method. You can pack a whole lot of t-shirts into a drawer by using our method and stacking them sideways. I was able to pack about 60 shirts in my drawer using this method. I also threw out about 20 t-shirts in the folding process, as I accepted that other people find my stained and holey t-shirts uncompelling. Also, no human needs that many shirts…

Socks are more efficiently stored by simple folding or stacking. Rolling them deforms the elastic and actually takes up more space. Plus, folded socks can be stacked atop each other.

tidy snap fastenersHate folding? Well, there are two gadgets that can make your life easier. One is a t-shirt folding board and the other are the Tidy Snap fasteners, which take a second to fasten, and keep underwear and other small items neatly rolled for uniformly filling drawers. Easy to use and inexpensive, these products are great if you’re one of those non-fussy, inpatient people and you want to add a little tidiness to your drawers.

Over-Door Organizers

Over-door organizers are the bees knees for organizing your stuff. Most fit over standard doors and a huge variety of styles are available to store shoes, purses, jewelry, towels, clothes and lots of other things. Over-door organizers are one of those things that can be repurposed for a variety of uses – especially some of the soft shoe organizers. You can use the pockets for jewelry, socks, underwear, devices, and everything that doesn’t have a secure storage location in your home.

Magazine Holders

magazine-holderMagazine holders aren’t just for magazines. Use them for all of those paper things that get scattered around your room. Yeah, you are probably very digital and most things live inside your laptop or iPad, but think receipts, takeout menus, pizza coupons, notes to self, love notes from others or self ;-), course books, and all those paper vestiges of the old world order need a place to be. Put them in the magazine holder so they don’t get lost. You can also put non-paper items in them (see below). Magazine holders come in a variety of styles, materials and colors including bamboo, black, red and green. They make great decorative accents along with providing extra storage in your dorm room.

Repurpose Stuff You Already Own

It’s okay to get creative and make up your own storage solutions by repurposing stuff you already own. Silverware organizers are great for organizing jewelry, devices and a variety of other items. You’ll find lots of uses for magazine holders and other storage items on Pinterest or all over the internet.

Collapsible Laundry Storage

Laundry and laundry baskets tend to hog a lot of space in your dorm room or closet. Two things can reduce this clutter: a regular washing schedule and collapsible laundry bags/sorters. Oh, and a third, fold your laundry and put it away as soon as it’s clean. That way it won’t accumulate around your room or take up valuable surface space.

Baskets for Everything

Baskets are a great way to organize and store a variety of possessions and they come in a huge array of styles, sizes and are made in a range of materials from wicker to fabric to wire. They look great inside a closet shelf, on your desk, on bookcase, or on top of a dresser. Use them for linens, clothing, papers, craft items, magazines and more. Baskets make a great decorative element as they add texture and style to your dorm room. I’ve even seen people attach flat baskets to walls for inexpensive, temporary shelving. This is especially effective for bathroom storage of towels and other essentials.

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Top Ten Best Dorm Laundry Must-Haves

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top 10 dorm laundry

Dorm Laundry Essentials to Help Keep your Life Together in the New School Year

The transition from home to dorm can be stressful in so many ways. At home, you have easy access to laundry, kitchen, and all of the usual comforts. But in school, it’s kind of like you are camping in a room, with all of your essential life activities taking place some place else – cafeteria downstairs or in another building, laundry downstairs (or at home on weekends), bathroom (at worst – down the hall), or slightly better, in your room, but shared with three other people you may or may not know. All of your routines get turned upside down when you go to college, but you can reduce your stress by showing up for school prepared. We are featuring several blog posts to prepare you for school, so be sure to check back weekly for great new ideas that will get you ready and manage your transition stress.

Clothes make the man – and the woman, and are essential to making an impression during school and for play. When you get to campus though, keeping them clean, stored and presentable becomes an instant hassle. Moving to the dorms will make you realize just how much you took your home life for granted. To help you deal, here are 10 dorm laundry products, our best, to make washing, lugging and pressing your laundry easier and keep you looking your best.

Drying Rack

Over-Door Garment Drying Rack

When you’re in a hurry and can’t finish the dry cycle, or just when you need to hand wash some underwear or stockings (or that garment that missed the wash cycle), this over-door drying rack is a lifesaver. Just hang it over the door overnight and you’ll have dry, ready-to-go clothes the next day. Four 20-inch rungs give you plenty of room for hanging and it costs only $14.99.

Laundry Sorter

Laundry Sorter and Bag

Laundry baskets are sturdy and great, but for dorms, laundry bags might be better. This one is lightweight and has three sorting compartments to keep your laundry organized. Plus it sports a carrying handle and is made of see-through mesh for easy identification of your dirty (or clean) stuff. Whether you are taking laundry home, to the dorm laundromat, or a commercial space, this is a great do-all bag – plus it comes in blue ($9.99) or white ($8.99) varieties.

Laundry Divider Hamper

Small Laundry Sorter/Mesh Wash Bag

Don’t you hate it when your fishnets get snagged or your dress socks get hung up on your jeans zipper? Solution: a little, inexpensive, gem-of-a-laundry sorter. It’s perfect for separating underwear and socks – plus you can throw it in the washing machine as a protective wash bag, which eliminates snagging and “intra-washing” mishaps. It’s only sixteen inches long, has four compartments, is made of lightweight mesh, and costs only $3.99.

laundry-bag-with-strap

Laundry Bag

For long, cross-campus laundry hauls, this laundry bag really fits the bill. Throw it over your shoulder with the included strap and toss it in the machine for easy washing when it’s dirty. It’s made of durable, reinforced nylon and the manufacturer offers a limited lifetime warranty. It’s 33 inches high and costs only $16.99.

Over-Door Ironing Board

Over-Door Ironing Board

Few dorms come with room for an ironing board. Over-door ironing board to the rescue. It comes with a pad and folds up and out of your way when you’re not using it. Plus it comes with a wire holder for your iron. Just let it cool and hook it over the prongs. It works on standard 1-3/8-inch or 1/3/4-inch thick doors and requires no extra hardware. Cost (on sale): $38.99. Ironing not a priority? Consider these: interviews and special dates – or any time you might want to impress someone. It happens.

Ironing Mat

Ironing Mat

No free door for the ironing board? No problem. Just buy this ironing mat and use it on your desk, table or counter. It has thick padding to discourage mishaps, is 19.5 x 28 inches, and has a built-in silicone iron holder. It folds up for easy storage and costs only $12.99.

rowenta iron

Eco-Intelligence Iron

If you work in college or dress up, you’re going to want an iron. Rowenta’s Eco-Intelligence Iron is smartly designed to save energy by up to 25 percent, so makes a great green gift for your tree-hugging loved one (even if it’s a gift you buy yourself). It has a patented steam and anti-drip system and one of the coolest designs on the market. There’s no reason an iron can’t be pretty and industrial designs can be sublime too. It’s on sale at the time of this writing for $115.99.

rowenta fabric steamer

Rowenta Hand Steamer

For low-maintenance, casual, t-shirt wearing students, you might be able to bypass the iron and all of it’s apparatus and use an inexpensive hand steamer. This uses distilled water to blast smaller wrinkles from your clothes. It has a lint and fabric brush to open weave as it steams out imperfections. It doesn’t quite do the job of an iron, and you can’t press folds into fabrics, but it’s a quick-and-dirty fix for looking presentable for the day – and requires less storage room than an ironing board and iron. I use one myself, and I seldom get out the iron. Cost: only $29.99.

over-door-hanger valet

Over-Door Hanger Valet

When you dry and iron your laundry, you sure don’t want it to get wrinkled. This over-door hanger is a great way to keep your clothes organized and wrinkle-free as you iron. It hangs over standard doors, is study and made from steel, holds five hangers, and extends five inches from the wall. Cost: $15.99.

scarf holder

Wire Hangers

With cramped closet situations, wire hangers make the best use of lateral space and are fairly inexpensive. They come in a variety of models, including multi-tiered versions, which give you space you didn’t know you had by utilizing the vertical. Tank top hangers, slack hangers, scarf and belt hangers, and even lingerie hangers are available for storing all your garments. Prices range from $3.99 to $13.99 for specialty, multi-tiered hangers. You also might enjoy the Clutter Control Freak post for more ideas on tricking out your closet on a budget (with hangers).

Whatever your dorm laundry needs for the coming fall, you’re sure to find it at Organize-It. New shoppers, be sure to sign up for our newsletter (go to main site and scroll to bottom for link) to receive a 10-percent discount on your first order. Also, you might want to sign up for our blog email list (use “subscribe” button on right of page), so you can receive notifications as we publish new articles.

EXTRAS

Laundry Tips:

Keep a laundry schedule to stay on top of things.

Sort as you soil to save work later.

Save your quarters.

Keep detergent and dryer sheets on hand.

Fold right away to minimize wrinkling and stay on top of it.

Laundry Checklist:

Detergent

Softener

Dryer Sheets

Basket or bag

Quarters

Iron

Ironing board or sheet

Dryer rack for in-room use

Spray starch

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Organizing as a Creative Act

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organizing as a creative act

Organizing Creatively – Transforming the Chores of Life into Joyful Activities

When contemplating the mess of papers on your desk, the pile of clothes in the corner, or your chaotic kitchen pile that just never seems to rectify itself, what are some of the impediments to organizing? Lack of time is one for me, given my long commute and well, there just never seem to be enough hours in the day. Being a human is a lot of work. Cooking, cleaning, traveling, working, and maintaining oneself in those ways we need to, just to present each day, is all a lot to manage.

The other thing is that hump one must jump to get to the start/go point. “Just do it,” doesn’t always work for me, nor does a high energy song, dancing in the living room, or the promise of something slathered in peanut butter as a post-organizing reward. I try all kinds of motivators, but there always seems to be something else getting in the way.

I’ll be honest, there’s always a juvenile and self-sabotaging little voice that says, “organizing is boring. I would rather play.” I would rather visit my friends on social media, go for a walk, talk on the phone, watch a good movie, go shopping, hang out with the neighbors, read a book, space out with a cup of coffee, or do nearly anything but clean. Also, I’m a creative person, and I really want to spend my little bit of free time on creative endeavors.

Even if you are not a creative person, maybe you can relate – especially when you spend the majority of your life at work (and I know being a homemaker is also a TON of work – often more than a full-time job). Time is precious. Life is precious. So if keeping clean and organizing can be a full-time job and you already have one, how do you manage? How do you get motivated? And how do you overcome that tantalizing and relentless little voice that keeps saying, “This is boring. Let’s play.”

But here’s the thing, ORGANIZING CAN BE A CREATIVE ACT. Yup, it’s true. And the more chaos you have, the MORE CREATIVE opportunities there are. No, I’m not pulling your leg. If you can’t make the leap from tedious tasks to creative acts, consider this: Creativity is bringing order to randomness and there is a fine line between chaos and order.

In Understanding Creativity, Jane Piirto quotes teacher Al Hurwitz on the creative process: “Art functions as an extended conversation between form and imagination.” How can this translate into organizing your home? Well, keeping a home is a continual conversation between you and your belongings about your vision of how you want your home and life to be.

Whether that conversation exists within a “Marie Kondo” construct – i.e., asking yourself if your possession “sparks joy,” or in a more complex assessment of where you are at in your life and how that relates to your belongings (read our Organizing for the Spirit Book Review), having this dialogue is integral to the creative process.

I once had a painting instructor who said she needed her studio to be a mess because it induced an agitated state that was conducive to creativity (“creating” being a way of establishing some order, if not in the room, then on a canvas). Certainly there are artists who have different working methods and standards, but there is, in fact, a strong relationship between creativity, chaos and order.

This is not to say that in order to clean and be organized, you must first create chaos. The important takeaway is that the process of organizing is akin to creating art and can be approached with a similar attitude.

So what is creativity? It’s a hard thing to nail and scientists are continually questioning the process, but one thing for certain is that it involves divergent thinking, multiple solutions, unconscious thought processes, and a unique approach to problem solving. For people who are not creative (and this is not a criticism), how-to guides may be just what you need for organizational motivation, as they give you instructions and methods of doing things. Certainly, blogs, books and Pinterests boards are great for sparking ideas for creatives and non-creatives alike.

What does creative organizing look like? Well, it could involve developing your own unique organizing methods to suit your style of dressing, crafting, cooking and so on. Does organizing with color appeal to you? You might want to check out our Psychology of Color article.

Are you handy and do you enjoy crafting? Building, repurposing and even just painting dressers, shelves and other storage systems might be a fun way to engage your inner artist. Whether you make it yourself or purchase readymade storage products such as plastic totes or freedomRail shelving or closet systems, designing your storage to fit your lifestyle is fun and potentially fulfilling and creative.

Incorporating decorating into your organizing is another way to activate your creative brain. Color, shape and texture are sure to get those synapses firing as you explore multiple possibilities for harmonizing and marking your environment.

If you have kids, approaching cleaning and organizing their toys and room from a creative standpoint is a great way to motivate them. Sure, you can establish rules and methods and locations, but if you partner with them to creatively devise personalized systems based on their own play preferences (with a little guidance, of course), it will likely engages them on a deeper level and encourage them to do it independently on an ongoing basis.

Locker organizing stands out as something kids love to do and it’s a fabulous way to express themselves and stand out from the crowd. An organized locker is conducive to good study habits and creating a “signature” locker makes the activity all the more sweet. Shelves, hanging storage and magnetic accessories are available for making standard lockers more useful, and the sky’s the limit for decking them out (think photos, collages, printed papers, fur and more). Combining the decorating and organizing tasks makes it a fun activity, and your child or teenager can enjoy all the benefits.

If you are an artistic personality, other people’s organizing solutions may not suit your need for individuality, or satisfy your desire for self expression. This is where you need to be able to tap into those creative reservoirs and apply that energy to your environment. If you find doing creative painting in the kitchen each weekend, maybe it isn’t a sin to repurpose a portion of the Hoosier cabinet to art supplies? After all, rules were meant to break and it’s your space. Really, the sky’s the limit for creative organizing when you give yourself permission.

Recently, I was struggling over pantry storage and considering buying a cabinet, as my old schoolhouse has an inadequate number of undersized cabinets. One day I realized that the built-in broom closet was underutilized, with space consumed by items I no longer use. I decided to build some inexpensive pine shelves inside of the closet and put the brooms and dusters in the stairwell on a rack. It was a little more work than the original plan, but less expensive and more aligned in character to the original kitchen cabinets, which were made of pine and built by handy nearby farmers (everyone had an extra trade in the old days of rural America).

My storage solution wasn’t a store-bought, out-of-the-box one, but rather, a creative one tailored to my own unusual space. And I’m pleased with the results, the extra room I now have on my counters – plus the kitchen still has plenty of open floor space. Creative solutions to storage may not be the most obvious, promoted or even simple ones, but they are often more fun.

Even if you don’t consider yourself to be particularly artistic, cultivating your inner child when organizing your home, work space and office makes the tasks more joyful and transforms your environments into more inviting, unique and comfortable spaces. Approaching organizing as a means to express your personality and style can be fun and motivational for both you and your family (if applicable).

Do you have a motivational trick or creative approach to organizing you’d like to share?

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