Make it your individual: The dorm decor ought to replicate the coed’s character

Make the most of this 250 square feet.

This is the average size of a double dorm in most colleges and universities.

“Furnishing your dorm room is about using space wisely,” said Sophia Colarusso of Allentown, Pennsylvania, a new senior at the University of Pittsburgh at Oakland on the Combined Accelerated Studies in Education program. “Something like using extra storage space under the bed can help maximize the space.”

Colarusso knows how to make optimal use of the living area, as she has lived in a dormitory every year. She is a senior residential assistant, high school teacher who helps younger students living in dormitories and dormitories.

“I love living on campus because I feel more comfortable there,” she said. “The other residents in the dormitory feel like my second family.”

Courtesy Sophia Colarusso

Something as simple as brightly colored pillows and fairy lights can brighten up a dormitory like this one by Sophia Colarusso, a senior assistant at the University of Pittsburgh in Oakland.

One, two or more

Dorm rooms can be for one, two, or more students. Most have at least one roommate or live in a suite with several others.

It’s best to find out the square footage of the room before you start buying so that you can plan, said Karen Simmons of Cranberry, an interior designer who owns Home Design HD.

Developing a floor plan can help maximize space, Simmons said.

Before bringing anything into the room, it is best to communicate with your roommate, Colarusso said, since you will be sharing some common rooms with this person.

Make it your own

“Decorating your dormitory is a way of showing your individuality and adding elements that make the room yours,” said Colarusso.

Something as small as decorative pillows, photos on the wall or colorful pompoms hanging from the ceiling add a touch of personality. Remember, you will be spending a lot of time in this room so that it is fun, festive, and comfortable.

Especially for freshmen away from home for the first time, having a room where they can relax and study at the end of the day helps as they transition to college.

A dorm room is a place to find inspiration and express yourself, said Altoona’s Marissa Kagarise, a junior student studying digital humanities at Seton Hill University in Greensburg. She said that when she decorated her dormitory, she went in with an open mind.

“A dorm is like a blank canvas,” she said. “I love plants, so I really wanted some plants. And I like crystals. I’m a very spiritual person so I wanted a place of comfort that inspires me. I used command hooks, twine and clothespins to hang tapestries on the walls. “

See the light

The dorms have some lighting, but it is best to bring a lamp or other lighting such as fairy lights or reading lamps. Kagarise likes Christmas lights so she added an array of white lights and colored lights so she can change the mood, she said.

For a more complex set-up, there are LED light strips that can be controlled via an app and synchronized with music.

If you have a roommate, you may want a reading lamp so you don’t disturb them while you prepare for an exam. Simmons said that a light by the bed is important for precisely this reason. “You want a room where you can concentrate,” said Kagarise. “And good lighting can help.”


Courtesy Bed Beth & Beyond

OttLite purify LED desk lamp with wireless charging from Bed Bath & Beyond ($ 79.99).

Basics first

Kagarise recommends starting with the basics and moving on from there. It’s also fun to have things that can be swapped out all year round to give the room a different look, such as a reversible blanket or pillows with different covers.

Start with neutrals, said Simmons. Furniture in beige and gray can be a perfect base for splashes of color on blankets or pillows or lamps, or something like a plant or office supplies like pen and pencil holders and file folders.

Mirrors can create a fun detail and serve a purpose too, Simmons said. Buy lightweight, inexpensive plastic chairs so that they can be moved easily. Small carpets can be a nice addition.

“This is most likely your first time away from home, so add a bit of your personality to the room,” said Simmons. “You also have to keep in mind that it’s about a minimalist lifestyle because you don’t have a lot of space to work and you can’t walk around the room. So don’t run out and buy lots of things until you know how much space you have. “

Michael Gieseke of Upper St. Clair is the Dean of Student Life at Point Park University in downtown Pittsburgh. He said the school offers traditional dormitories as well as suites and apartments. He said that some students bring too much and others not enough, so Point Park offers students a list in advance.

“Sometimes it’s the little things that make the room feel at home,” says Gieseke.

He said the students are moving away from flat screen TVs and opting for streaming on their smartphones and computers.


Courtesy Margaret Hinnebusch

Margaret Hinnebusch, a senior at Point Park University in downtown Pittsburgh, has designed photo walls with pictures of family and friends.

Less is more

Margaret Hinnebusch, a senior psychology and behavioral scientist from Canton, Ohio, is an office assistant in the Student Life Office at Point Park University.

She said you should bring less than you think you need because you can always add something. To make her rooms feel right at home, she created a photo wall with pictures of family and friends from her first year high school and added pictures from her first year to her room in the second year.

“When I told stories to my college friends, I was able to show them pictures of my family and high school friends that made the first year of college more enjoyable,” she said. “The photos are a familiar sight and made me happy.”

Go virtual

Most colleges and universities offer a virtual tour to see the room before you move in. This can give you a chance to organize ahead of time and come up with a decorating plan so you don’t make too many trips back to the stores to buy items you don’t want or need to wear, Simmons said.

“I believe in an energy when you walk into a room and having too much in a room can use up your energy,” said Simmons. “This is a place to sleep and study and you don’t want to feel overwhelmed by too many things that you can’t relax or get work done. It can still be pretty and personalized. It just doesn’t have to be overloaded. “

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a contributor to Tribune Review. You can contact JoAnne at 724-853-5062,, or on Twitter.

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