Dorm Decor 101

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With limited space, a limited budget, and a roommate whose tacky posters and unsightly bedspread really cramp your style, personalizing your dorm décor can be a difficult task. Yet many students find resourceful and affordable ways to turn a dreary dorm into a unique and personal sanctuary. 

For most college students, decorating with original works of art is out of the question, but one student found a way to adorn her walls with masterpieces without tapping into her pizza budget. Instead of spending a fortune on pricey pieces of art, junior art major Samantha Perry embellished her bare walls with her own art projects.

“It all started with a painting I did for a class freshman year,” Perry said. “My roommate really liked it and hung it up. Now we put up all of our favorites. It’s like our own little art gallery.”

But where does Perry get the inspiration for all the photographs, paintings, and sketches that beautify her dorm?

“I’ve always been a huge fan of Annie Liebowitz,” Perry said. “She’s got her own section in our art gallery. Whenever I find one of her pictures in a magazine, I tear it out and hang it up.”

Junior Emily Wold also used one of her passions as the inspiration for her décor. As an active member of her college’s environmental group, Wold dedicated her free time to keeping the entire campus green—including her own dorm room. For Wold, incorporating her passion for the environment into her décor meant more than setting a recycling bin next to her trash can. From organic cotton sheets to used furniture, Wold remained conscious of the environmental effects of all her decorating decisions. And it wasn’t always pretty.

“I hit up thrift stores to find my coffee table and love seat,” Wold said, referring to the vintage ‘60s orange and green flowered sofa that sat beneath her loft. “It may not have been as cute as some of the brand new futons in department stores, but it felt good to recycle. Plus, this was much cheaper.”

Despite these fashion sacrifices, Wold found ways to prove that recycling could be chic, brightening up her dingy furniture and bringing in a piece of her beloved outdoors by decorating with fresh flowers placed in glass soda bottles. “Not only were the flowers beautiful, but they smelled nice, too. It was like an all-natural air freshener.”

Like Wold, sophomore Julia Ferrell’s interior design emphasizes the balance between form and function that is so crucial to dorm life. Ferrell’s love for all things vintage, combined with her roommate’s extensive collection of vinyl records, sparked an idea that was not only a unique design element, but an imaginative space-saver. Instead of keeping their records in bulky box on the floor, or in the closet, using up valuable storage space, the roommates used the records to decorate their drab walls, attaching them to the wall using removable Velcro strips.

“Now we can just pull a record off the wall and play it for the whole floor,” Ferrell said.

While Ferrell admits that vinyl records on the wall might not be for everyone, she doesn’t mind her dorm looking like a ‘50s diner. “Our stuff has a lot of personal meaning to us and our group of friends,” she said. “We like it, so it’s all good.”

College Magazine Staff

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