Storage Ideas for Small Spaces

Well, we did it! College drop off is complete. My daughter's dorm room is decorated and classes started today, so the very first fall semester is officially underway. One of the things I was looking forward to on move in day was decorating the dorm room. We had fun looking for ideas to increase storage in a tiny space. One of best ideas we found was making these little seats out of milk crates. Not only do they provide extra storage and a place for friends to sit, but they also fit neatly under her bed.


I saw the idea for these here. They're pretty self explanatory from the picture. All that was required was milk crates, plywood, quilt batting, material, and a staple gun. After cutting the plywood to fit the the top of the crate, you staple batting and material around it to create a cushioned seat. The tops then lift out for quick access to whatever you choose to store inside.

After I put these together, I used the extra material to decorate one of these plastic drawer units. Using a hot glue gun, I attached material to each of the inside front panels. Now she can put whatever she wants in there and no one can see the contents from the outside. My younger daughters liked both of these projects so much they want me to make the same things for their room!


Just for fun, here was our view of the dorm room when we first walked in.


I couldn't help feeling it had the air of a prison cell. This is her side looking in from the doorway. Two desks face each other and serve to divide the room. 

And here is an after picture. Much better!


I really enjoyed working in a small space trying to make it as functional as possible. On the way home, my husband was bemoaning the fact that we might end up setting up dorm rooms twenty times. I told him I look forward to it. That's totally the fun part! It's the hauling it all back home for the summer and having it take over my dining room again that I dread! :)

49 comments:

  1. That after shot looks a lot better! Great thinking adding the rug. Those floors really do make you think of prison. Or the school cafeteria.

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    1. Thanks, Leilani! It must be one of the most durable flooring options because it lasts forever! :)

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  2. Love the dorm room! Looks great! Stopping by from where two or three are gathered

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  3. Wow...what a transformation! I always laugh at dorm room commercials on tv, where everyone has a massive space. I remember how small my dorm room was in college, but I loved it. Great job on the storage benches!

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    1. You're right, Lana! This dorm room was smaller and older than the one we saw at orientation. Much of what we planned had to be altered once we got there. I guess sharing a small space with a stranger is a college rite of passage though! :)

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  4. Great job, mama! Those crate seats were super popular when I was teaching elementary. I am glad to see they are still being used. Also, you are so brave to be focusing on the fun instead of wallowing in the sad. You are inspiring!

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    1. Thanks, Aly! Getting ready gave me something to think about other than saying goodbye! :)

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  5. ha ha ha. I can see my husband complaining about the same thing. Think of this way - you'll be experts by the end of it! :) Her room looks great!

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    1. Thanks, Chelsea! My dad still tells stories of carrying cinder blocks up multiple flights of stairs in the August heat to move us all into dorms!

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  6. Wow! You guys really did an amazing job making it homey and cute! Love the crate ideas, they are so functional! Emily

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    1. Thanks, Emily! Preparing and getting her ready was fun and gave my mind something other than the goodbye to think about!

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  7. these are a great idea. I hope she has a great first day. Her room is so cute, I love her bed. Happy tuesday!

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  8. Great storage ideas, Marie!!
    I LOVE seeing the before and after photo of your daughter's dorm room. And I couldn't agree more . . . they do look like a prison cell. The area rug really adds a touch of comfort to the otherwise cold floor!
    Thanks so much for sharing!
    Suzanne

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    1. Thanks, Suzanne! It was fun and it made me happy to leave her looking so comfortable!

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  9. The throw rug makes such a difference - you did a great job making the room cozy. I hope your daughter is settling in, and that you are doing okay too. Twenty times to move kids into dorms? Sheesh.

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    1. Thanks, Dana! That's the potential minimum number if all five lived in a dorm all four years and wanted us to help them each year. Maybe I could write a book on just that at the end! ;)

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  10. Great ideas - what a transformation! I love the challenge of making the most of small spaces. We're looking to get a camper van next year and designing the interior is one of the things I'm most looking forward to! #allaboutyou

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    1. That sounds really fun! I'd be looking forward to organizing and decorating it, too!

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  11. OOh some great storage ideas there that I may have to copy! We seriously need to do some sorting out, especially in the kids room - the toys are literally taking over.

    #AllAboutYou

    Heledd xx

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    1. Feel free to copy! Glad you can use them! :)

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  12. Oh, I hadn't even thought about how many dorm rooms I'm going to have to help move into!!!
    Those crates are awesome and I think maybe even I could pull that one off. Looking forward to hearing how the first few weeks go for your daughter. It sounds like, with your help, she's off to a great start!

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    1. Thanks, Heather! They were really easy to make!

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  13. A brilliant home from home transformation :) #allaboutyou

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  14. I love that after-shot! It has such a cozy feel to it.

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    1. I'm glad you think so, Celeste! I felt better leaving her with a homey looking room!

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  15. Love these ideas! Our new house has lots of walk in cupboards, but none of them actually provide good storage, so I'm on the look out for some simple ideas that I can use to improve them :)

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    1. I hope they work for you, Sara! Can't wait to see what you do with your new house.

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  16. Cute! I lived in quite a number of dorms during college. It was always so much fun decorating. I live in Louisiana so in the fall and spring, I stayed in the dorms with no A/C but had a semi-private bathroom with a tub. In the summer, I stayed in the dorms with A/C with community showers. Still was a good time all around. You did a great job.

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    1. Thanks! Living in the dorms is a good experience to have and most people remember it forever! :)

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  17. Wow! You worked a miracle on the dorm room! I wish I had some of your talent with small spaces. Thanks for the inspiration and post.
    www.mommycrusader.com

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  18. Great Ideas! Love the fact that they double as little seats!
    xo Krissy @ Sneakers and Sequins

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    1. Thanks, Krissy! I'm interested to see how much she uses them!

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  19. Oh my goodness, did it EVER look like a jail cell! Eeek! You ladies did a fabulous job. The throw rug was definitely a necessity! Love the milk crate seats too - so cute.

    Off to college... wow!

    Thanks for sharing and for linking up to the #SHINEbloghop!

    Wishing you a lovely weekend.
    xoxo

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    1. Big step, but she's doing great! It was a lot of fun to get her settled.

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  20. Love what you did with the dorm room. It's so important that they feel at home from day one! Hope she's settling in OK and that you're managing to cope without her being at home x

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    1. Thanks, Izzie! It's getting better. She's doing well and it makes me happy to know that. We're going to see her in a couple days, so I'm looking forward to it! :)

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  21. Love what you did with your daughter's dorm room. It's so important that they feel at home from day one! Hope she's settling in OK and that you are coping without her being at home x

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  22. Wow! Those Before & After photos are awesome! You did a really great job of taking a drab dorm room and giving it a touch of home and personality. My son is so anti-decor I didn't get to really have that fun with him. The most he wanted was a 'fuzzy' blanket...LOL Perhaps when my daughters get there we can have a bit more fun (of course that is far far away...thank goodness...LOL).

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    1. Haha, My next child to go to college is a boy and already know he won't care about decorating the room either! I'm glad you at least got to help your son pick out his blanket. There's something about leaving them comfortable that makes it a little easier!

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  23. Dorm rooms can be such a challenge.... good for you to help make it beautiful and fun.... and useful. :)

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  24. That "after" shot of the dorm room is impressive! Your daughter's very lucky that she's got such a creative/handy mom. :)

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  25. Good job decorating. I agree that the after shot is impressive.

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  26. Wow, I would have burst into tears at seeing the first shot! Nice work!

    Thanks for linking to All About You

    Mama-andmore.com

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  27. Super job! I wish I could have you come over to my house! I bet that Mom's touch will make her feel a little closer to home when the home-sickness starts! Blessings!

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  28. That is the coolest dorm room ever. Fantastic job! Yes I think I would look forward to that part too. Getting it all set up and making sure they had everything they needed storage and supplies etc. At least there are perks to the emotional side of the rest of it. Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me.f #sharewithme

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