Extreme Makeover: Dorm Addition

As you’ve probably already seen by now, the dorm rooms at St. John’s University are very much like other college dorms -white and empty. Chances are you’ve lived in a room like this before; chances are equally likely that you’ve been able to decorate at your leisure, on your parents’ budget. Now, though, you have joined the ranks of the broke and collegiate. While you could spend your money on fancy interior decorating, you could also plan ahead and arrive with enough materials on hand to feel moved in and at home right away, with a dorm room that’s surprisingly chic.

First off, have a “pow-wow” with your roomies either online before you even meet, or immediately when you arrive. Discuss your room arrangement options and consider what works best for everyone. Beds can be unbunked, even in a junior triple. For more floor space, put dressers in closets or buy risers and tuck them under your bed. Avoid putting your desks in front of the window, as you will undoubtedly want the light and the fresh air come winter.

A lot can be done with rooms to make everyone comfortable and provide extra space, but be warned: unbunking beds will require a hammer. Try not to do this at 3 a.m., since the people below you will definitely not appreciate the noise.

If you want furniture removed, be sure to check with Residence Life beforehand to make sure you don’t accrue any fines.

Now, on to the aesthetics. A few important things to bring are area rugs, since not everyone always wants to be walking on bare tiles. You could pick up a small one to put right next to your bed, or in the bathrooms for about $7 at Wall-Mart, or a larger one for the open floor of your room for between $16 and $20.

When selecting your rugs, and your bedding, think about colors and patterns that you won’t mind seeing for the next nine months. While picking an abstract color can be an easy way to add a little flare and originality to your room, you also want to make sure it’s not a color you will easily get tired of.

For the wall space around your room, bring photos from home and create a montage, maybe in a pattern or design that is fun to look at and help you relive those high school memories.

Family, friends, pets and your town are all good options, and they will also serve as a great point of conversation with your roommates that will help you get to know one another better.

Colored paper – maybe even wrapping paper – can also liven up those white walls. There is an annual poster sale at Marillac Terrace where you can find all sorts of wall décor depicting anything from fine art to fast cars to Broadway Hits.

If you are an artist, or simply an art fan, bring a few pieces of your favorite work. Keep in mind, though, that nothing should require nails to hang, as you cannot put holes in the walls of dorm rooms Luckily, you can get all kinds of adhesives that won’t mess up the walls. Hooks, putty, and tape are all good options and can be purchased from the bookstore on campus.

Remember watching your Dad trying to figure out which single light on the Christmas tree strand was the one that was burnt out and keeping the whole thing from working? Well, he didn’t fix them for nothing! Snag a string of lights, or go get a cheap one from the store (Thriftway a block from campus has them for about $5 starting in November).

These work very well around windows, doorways, or even strung up under your bunk. They offer a fun touch of color and, best of all, are inexpensive. As always, be aware that the more you plug in, the greater attention you must pay to fire-safety. As if it even needs to be said, everyone would hate you if you cause the fire alarm to go off in the middle of the night.

Curtains may also be good to liven up your room. You can use spring rods to install them. Make sure you pick patterns and colors that everyone in the room can live with, since you don’t want to buy them and then keep them in a drawer because you all couldn’t agree.

Finally, don’t forget to coordinate with your roomies about who is bringing what electronic appliances – three televisions and DVD players and four different floor lamps take up a lot of room. Try to eliminate unnecessary items, because a cramped room can be a real spoiler for your college experience. Mostly, don’t forget to have fun and be creative!