Dorm Design Guide (With a Little Help from Two Art Majors)

Today it’s a double room in Nyland Hall, tomorrow it’s a New York City studio apartment. Who knows where you could end up after school? Now that you’ve lived in your space for a couple of months and have had a chance to recover from midterms over Quad break, it’s time to figure out which details will make your dorm room feel a little more like home. To help you get started, two senior art majors are here to show you their on-campus digs and offer savvy design tips along the way.

Meet Josh Peterman ’20 and Kaitlyn Wulf ’20. You could describe Josh’s vibe as eclectic contemporary and cool-toned. Abstract portraits and lots of blue, green and grey hues fill his room. Kaitlyn’s is more of a boho paradise, replete with hanging metal stars, ivy plants and canvas totes. (Fun fact: she also has an emotional support animal named Mochi.)

No matter your style, these seven tips from Kaitlyn and Josh will transform your space in no time:

  1. Make it functional

Rearranging furniture in a Ferrin-double can be its own high-energy-expenditure game of Tetris, but for Josh it’s an important part of making the most of a small space.

“When you first arrive, your dorm layout is not the most functional. Nothing in this room is in its original spot. It’s small, but there’s a lot of space you can use,” says Josh.

  1. Brighten with white

White walls may seem a little bland when you first move into your dorm room, but resist the urge to cover them up. White reflects more light, thereby making the space feel bigger and more brilliant.

“A lot of minimalist styles use plain white rooms, walls, furniture, etc. and it’s for a good reason. Light colors make a space feel lighter emotionally,” explains Kaitlyn.

  1. Delay your décor shopping until you’ve seen the space

Even though it’s fun to buy decor ahead of time, save your spending spree until after you’ve seen your space and know what it needs. Both Kaitlyn and Josh advise against investing in mirrors or wall art before you move into your dorm.

“For me, designing a space is a very gradual process. I probably won’t be settled into the room until the month before I have to move out. It takes time,” says Josh.

  1. Give in to your succulent obsession

With campus nestled in a New England forest, students have no shortage of green scenery. But a couple of succulents or a spider plant on your window sill instantly make the space feel more finished, as well as improve air quality. They do require some maintenance, but just consider getting a potted pet as the next step towards adulthood.

“Plants help make the room, and you, feel alive,” says Kaitlyn. “They also force you to slow down and care for other things in your space. It can become a meditative practice, or a reminder to take care of yourself and others.”

  1. Artwork? Choose wisely

Josh advises choosing photos and prints that you can look at every day. For instance, a poster featuring a scary character from your favorite horror movie may make your guests feel a bit uncomfortable for a round of Trivial Pursuit or a movie night.

“If it’s a heavier piece emotionally or conceptually, you have to be more careful. You have to ask yourself, ‘Do I want that in my bedroom?’” cautions Josh.

  1. Let there be (many) lights

Blinding florescent light isn’t kind on stress pimples or conducive to setting the mood for inviting that special friend over to watch a movie (during visitation hours of course). Warm LEDs and rope lights can help warm up your space and brighten your mood on dark and rainy days.

“Choose aesthetically pleasing light sources to fill your space with warmth. I find that warm lights help me relax more than white lights,” advises Kaitlyn. “Rope lights or fairy lights can help a room feel cozier.”

  1. A little goes a long way

While it’s not recommended that you arrange your postcard and polaroid collage masterpiece the night before your midterm exam, making your space comfortable has benefits for both your brain and your body. A room that you enjoy being in can help you relax and recuperate.

“A lot of times, people think of having a clean room or doing laundry or putting the time into making sure that you like your room as an afterthought. But it does have a lot of benefits,” says Josh.

Home is where your heart may be, but that shouldn’t stop you from making your dorm room

feel a little more like home. There’s so much more you can do than simply adding a poster with some leftover sticky tack. To get a little inspiration, visit the rooms of your floormates. Ask a creative friend to help you design your space.

By Veronica Andreades ’20, English language and literature