Dorm sweet dorm: Students decorate small space to make it more like home

College students are looking for unique and affordable ways to personalize their dorm rooms to make it a home away from home.

Tony Morimoto

College students are looking for unique and affordable ways to personalize their dorm rooms to make it a home away from home.

A plus-sized mannequin, a collection of posters and a cardboard Spider-Man hanging from the window decorate a Centennial Hall dorm room belonging to first-year students Bryan Wessale , Andrew Uden , Dan Swendsen and Joe Magnuson. Like these students, many college students are looking for unique and affordable ways personalize their dorm rooms to make it a home away from home. TV programming on channels like Home & Garden Television is bringing design down to the consumer level, Caren Martin , an associate professor of interior design said. Martin said the way a space is designed can have a tremendous effect on how people behave in it. No real room designs were made in advance, Swendsen said. Rather, on move-in day the roommates compared what everyone brought and went from there to start decorating. âÄúI had the mannequin and I thought it would look cool in a college dorm room,âÄù he said. Microbiology first-year Corinn Van Der Lugt , who lives down the hall, said they asked her for some help putting the room together and she offered to bring some old cut-outs, including the Spider-Man, she had from a job at Game Stop. By adding décor to the room, Wessale said their room, which was originally supposed to be the floor lounge, still took on a reputation as a place for people to hang out. âÄúIt makes it more homey and people want to come in and chill,âÄù he said. While the Centennial Hall room was put together with mostly free items, first-year students and roommates Macall Stone and Taylor Thanig said they purchased most of their Pioneer Hall dorm room décor from Target . Stone said she thought TargetâÄôs 08 College line was helpful because it reminded her of organizational items she needed but wouldnâÄôt have thought to buy. Both Thanig and Stone ordered their rainbow-striped bedding through the University because they didnâÄôt know retail stores like Target would have the extra-long bedding option in stores. Space was the biggest factor in deciding how to arrange their room, Stone said. âÄúWe thought by lofting our beds we would be able to use more space,âÄù she said. But not all students find lofting their beds beneficial. Ryan Engle , finance, marketing and international business sophomore, said he lofted his bed last year and didnâÄôt like it, so he decided not to this year. âÄúI noticed having fewer obstructions at eye level made the room feel bigger,âÄù he said. Engle adorned his room with flags from every country heâÄôs visited and printed photos from the trips in various sizes to decorate his single room in Comstock Hall . âÄúItâÄôs a little nicer to hang around in if there is something to see,âÄù he said. âÄúIt doesnâÄôt feel like a prison.âÄù Down the hall, chemical engineering sophomore David Hammond said he lofted his bed so he could put a couch underneath his bed. âÄúItâÄôs your home,âÄù he said. âÄúYou want it to be comfortable and a place where people can enjoy themselves.âÄù Rachel Bikel , a 2007 University graduate, was one of five grand-prize winners in a Target dorm-room design competition called Design Me!. Seven other University students also took prizes for their designs. Bikel said companies like Target and KohlâÄôs want to make moving to college more of a fun and trendy experience. âÄúGraduation from high school has gotten so big,âÄù she said. âÄúAnd, so much money is being put toward preparation for college.âÄù When designing a small space, Bickel said remembering to purchase items with a specific function is crucial. She said itâÄôs easy to get carried away with decorating and items end up just sitting around with no practical use. âÄúMore things go on in that space that any other residential space that I know of,âÄù she said. When designing a dorm room today, students donâÄôt have to settle for boring, but it also has to be a place to learn as well as a place to hang out, Bickel said. âÄúI like the idea that the environment you live in can really have an effect on whether or not you are productive in your space,âÄù she said. âÄúOr, whether you can relax in your space.âÄù