Don’t be a hot mess: Maximize space, minimize clutter


The Daily Illini File Photo

An organized dorm room in Van Doren Hall.

By Pari Apostolakos, Assistant Features Editor

It’s the second week of school. Picture this: your clothes are in a pile on the floor, every open surface in your room is completely covered by food, makeup, school supplies or any of your other possessions. You trip over shoes the second you dare to open your door to this vortex. It has happened, you have done it: Your space has become a hot mess.

How did you get here? Why did this happen? Is there any hope for you? What can you do to avoid this on Move-In Day? Where is your other shoe?

All of these questions will be answered for you by these helpful tips. (Okay, maybe not the shoe one, but you know what I mean).

Moving away from home is difficult to adjust to for a number of reasons. When it comes to clutter, the first of these reasons is space. Generally, where you move into on campus (especially your first year) is going to be smaller and more crowded than what you’re used to at home.

Keeping a small space clean is seemingly impossible sometimes, because it takes absolutely no time at all for the room to look like it has every item in it strewn somewhere, when in reality you have just finished getting ready for class. The easiest way to avoid this is simple: pick up after yourself while you are doing things. It sounds like I’m reminding you of your kindergarten teacher, I know. But trust me.

After you use your hair gel, put it back on its shelf. When you’ve decided what jacket to wear, put the other ones back in your closet. This will keep the room looking clean and avoid the charming tornado alley feel, which can appear after a rushed getting-ready session.  

On Move-In Day, take clear steps to keep your space looking clean and organized. Oftentimes, bags and suitcases are used for the transportation of clothing to your living space at the University. This is convenient for transporting the clothes, but not for storing or wearing them during the school year. Bags and suitcases will take up extra space on your floor and keep your room feeling smaller than it is.

As simple as it sounds, take all of your clothing out of suitcases, bags or boxes on Move-In Day. Do not wait, or tell yourself you will do it later. Things have a habit of getting busy around here pretty quickly, so be sure to tuck clothes away into dressers or hang them in the closet. This will ease the anxiety of looking for one item in a pile of other clothing, and reduce unnecessary stress when you first move in.

The same goes for unpacking after weekends away or nights spent at a friend’s place. Don’t leave the duffel bag in the middle of the floor for two weeks. By the night after you come back to your space, everything should be put away.

There never seems to be enough space on shelves, desks, dressers or other surfaces. For this reason, I recommend using wall and door space as extra storage. Use items like detachable adhesive hooks on the outside of your closet door to hang coats in the winter, or bathrobes and towels all year round.

Even having a place to put a baseball cap without immediately taking it off and putting it back in your closet is helpful. And this way, those items will look like accents that add personality to your room rather than clutter. Items neatly hung make it look and feel like you have your life together, items in piles on the floor create a messy minefield that causes you anxiety, whether you realize it or not.

Closet doors are also great places to hang full-length mirrors, which are helpful if where you are living doesn’t provide you with any. The inside of your closet door is a great place for a hanging shoe organizer. This will keep your shoes off the floor, and having most of your shoe options hanging in front of you will make getting ready in the morning much easier.

If the shelving in your room is inefficient, there are many options out there for hanging shelves that can be attached to the wall with a detachable hook, or another temporary adhesive.

This next one’s simple: Do not bring it all. You do not need it all. You do not need every t-shirt or pair of jeans you own. Picking favorites will do, and don’t convince yourself while packing that the shoes you haven’t worn since 2013 will come in handy. They will not, and they will take up extra space.  

Consolidate to your favorite items that you know you will wear. If you never dress up, do not bring all the formalwear you own “just in case.” Know yourself, and know your needs.

In a dorm room, lofting your bed opens up a whole world of space underneath. As a freshman, I used the space under my bed to have a small (yet comfy) chair, an ottoman which doubled as storage for my extra sheets and towels, a small, lightweight dresser which I brought from home, one of my large, three drawer dressers that was provided to me by my residence hall, and the shelving unit provided to me sat on top of the dresser.

Whether you decide to loft your bed halfway, or all the way like I did, it is better than the space under your bed being lost completely.

Finally, try to make your space feel like you. Use decorations, posters, pictures, plants, string lights or your favorite books to give it a more homey feeling. If you are proud of the way your room looks, you will keep it clean because you enjoy looking at it and are proud to call it your own.

Pari is sophomore in Media. 

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