Tip #143: Consider A Dorm Room.
I don’t know whether it’s some kind of fancy internet algorithm that keeps the posts coming across my radar, or whether there’s been an actual surge in dorm room style talk this summer, but I’ve seen a preponderance of posts from shelter mag style sites giving ideas for hacks and tricks and essentials for dorm room decor.
Needless to say, I have some thoughts. I know the demographics in this space probably don’t include a huge number of college-aged readers (though big shout out to my husband’s students…ILY2!). I still can’t help chiming in on the mania.
First, I’ll be upfront: I took my dorm room seriously. I took a trip to Pier One Imports with my mom before my first year. I took another to HomeGoods. I had throw pillows to match the large Indian tapestry I’d bought at a music festival the summer before. I bemoaned my roommate’s choice of purple leopard print comforter and got to work making a sanctuary out of my side of the room. I was more likely than not insufferable. By the time I was a junior and had succeeded in securing myself a single room, my fastidiousness could really blossom. On more than one occasion I was told that my room would have been on the campus tour if not for the fact that it didn’t accurately represent how most college-aged students lived. I was, of course, extremely proud of the snub.
The dorm room decor articles I’ve read in the past few weeks all champion the notion that having a small space and a small budget doesn’t mean that the place you live can’t be stylish. I am very much on board with this idea. It’s just that the suggestions I’ve read for imbuing a space with a bit of personal style feel out of step with the proclamation. One article declared that matching roomie poufs were a necessity for climbing into lofted beds. Another recommended hiring a dorm room design service to help source bedside lamps. Yet another advocated, perhaps, that incoming students invest in their own furniture instead of using what had been supplied by the college. I’m afraid we’ve all gone mad.
With full acknowledgement that hindsight is 20/20, I’d say that a dorm room is not a place to unpack an attic’s worth of decorative support materials. For the humorless, it’s a place to study. For the romantic (yours truly), it’s a place to sit with the reality of your cinderblock walls and dream about possibilities. It’s a time to unburden yourself from the stuff and to embrace the challenge of living without too much for awhile. It’s space made for fairy lights and photos stuck to the walls with tape. Express yourself, for sure, but no need to drain your meager bank account on a lamp that someone’s told you is a dorm room necessity. Nota bene: I’m 32 and I still don’t have matching bedside lamps. But I still do have the wooden crates I stored my books in.
It’s my Catholic upbringing coming through, no doubt, but I think there are lessons to be learned in a bit of discomfort. The beauty of dorm room living is recognizing the catastrophe of your chipping fake-wood college-issued desk, then figuring out a way to live with it. We don’t need to flagellate ourselves for seeking creature comforts or deciding to upgrade a not-very-nice something to a much-nicer-something—for lots of us, that’s part of growing up—I’m just suggesting that a college dorm room offers a blank slate in a way that’s not as easy to come by as life moves on. There’s something to be said for embracing the life stage when the place you live is less than perfect. (And maybe even to decide you’d prefer to keep things that way.) Perfectly imperfect, I’d say.
(I won’t link to matching bedside lamps, but if it’s pretty tape you’re after: right this way.)
Tiny apartment survival tips #1-142, RIGHT HERE.