College freshmen are finally beginning to move into campus housing—and possibly away from home for the first time. If you’re one of those first-years wondering what to leave, what to bring, or how you’ll make the most of your small dorm room, look no further! University at Buffalo alumna Lauren Thomann (2007), a Senior Content Strategist at Life Storage in Williamsville, NY who we recently profiled, is an expert on maximizing space and minimizing clutter, and she has shared with us her tips on how to make the most out of your home at college.
Thomann says the key is to make sure everything in your room serves a purpose. Be mindful about your space and your belongings. Determine what you really need by asking yourself these questions:
Thomann adds, “If you look at your belongings with these questions in mind, you’ll be less likely to hang onto things that don’t serve you or your space.”
Here are her tips for making the most out of your small space:
Any time we leave home, we’re all plagued by that typical worry: “I’m totally forgetting something.” Soothe that nagging feeling by checking these space-saving essentials off your list. Thomann recommends:
Check out our list of dorm essentials for more suggestions.
It’s even easier to over-pack than it is to forget the things you really need. Though you may feel attached to your old vinyl collection or your Game of Thrones books, if it isn’t functional, Thomann says it’s best to leave it at home. A quick rule of thumb: “If it’s large and doesn’t have a dual purpose or important function, leave it out.”
This doesn’t mean you can’t make your room feel homey and attractive. “Add personality to your space with items that will also serve a distinct purpose, like brightly colored wall hooks that can hang pictures and your keys,” Thomann says.
For more specific ideas about what to leave, check out our list of what not to bring to college.
There are plenty of things you won’t need two of: a TV, a minifridge, and less obvious things like a shoe mat or coat hooks. Contact your roommate(s) well ahead of time to avoid duplication, and save space and money.
Thomann also says even if you can’t share items, you can be considerate of your roommate(s) by keeping your part of the room tidy. Put your clothes and personal care items away and keep them in their appropriate spot—this will be much easier if have storage options that maximize your space, and if you bring only the essentials.
We all have plenty of organizational DIY tutorials and “life hacks” saved on Pinterest or on our phone’s camera roll. Why not put them to use for once instead of letting them collect virtual dust?
Thomann has a couple of ideas of her own to save space:
It may be difficult to part with all the things you have in your bedroom at home, but the sooner you admit to yourself you just won’t need most of it, the less daunting moving to college will seem.
Thomann says you don’t need to get rid of everything: “You can have a love of shoes and still live a minimal life. Just be sure you have a smart storage option for all those shoes so they don’t impede on your small space.”
Besides, with any luck, you’ll be too busy joining clubs, getting ahead on schoolwork, and enjoying campus life to worry about the things you might miss at home!
Jenna was a student assistant with the SUNY Office of New Media when an undergraduate student at SUNY Geneseo studying English literature.