Dorm decorating expresses personality

At first sight, dorm rooms kind of look like hospital rooms. A prison cell, at worst. A temporary white box to live in, at best. That’s why adding a little flair to your dorm room can only make yourself feel better.

Especially as a freshman, decorating your dorm room can be valuable for preventing homesickness and generally alleviating the discomforts of moving into college. Not only does it help ease your transition, but a well-decorated dorm room is inviting. It’s no secret that people are more likely to stop and stay in a more attractive space.

And, just as high school students jazz up their uniforms, decorating your dorm room is an expression of your personality and your tastes. There’s no better way to enrich your tastes and your individuality than to live in them.

First and foremost, fill up your  wall space. No matter how vibrant your comforter or how many knick-knacks you have piled on your desk, white walls always appear bare with nothing more than a calendar. Urban Outfitters’ Apartment Furnishings department has some very clever (and sometimes sassy) wall art that’s perfect for college dorm rooms (think a poster of pickles that reads “I’m a big dill”).

Ikea, the Swedish superstore for home furnishing, sells minimalistic art for reasonable prices. A black-and-white print of a surfer is handsome and understated.

TJ Maxx and JCPenney offer cheaper posters. But don’t let the prices excite you too much; moderation is key.

“Try to minimize the visible wall space, but don’t go overboard. A couple simpler posters well placed are better than a dozen, in my opinion.” said Christophe Pellissier, an undeclared freshman, whose own posters display Game of Thrones and Edward Scissorhands.

For the more crafty among you, magazine ads cut into letters and assembled as a name or mantra express a thrifty and creative side. Use this wall art as a talking point with people who pass your room or as a way to bond with your roommate.

A clothespin-dotted wire makes for a cool and inexpensive photo display. Major shops such as Target, Michael’s and Walmart sell cheap arts and crafts supplies for different projects like this. And CVS will print photos for less than $3.

Your efforts will not go unnoticed.

“You can really learn a lot about a person by how they decorate their room and what photos they have up,” said Connie Chen, a freshman majoring in accounting. “My roommate is pretty familiar with all of my high school friends because of the collage in my room.”

As for floor space, never underestimate the powers of a fuzzy rug. People are always, always willing to plop down on a comfortable surface to chat or eat. Decent rugs are around $30 at Target and are well worth the investment.

Dressers and desks can be similarly versatile. Dorm dressers pulled from underneath the beds and draped in a colorful fabric (maybe a scarf or small tablecloth) make for attractive nightstands.

“You can also pull out your desk to expand your work space, which really helps when you’re studying,” said Tomi Akingbola, a freshman majoring in biological sciences.

When not studying at your pull-out desk, get creative with your use of space and color. The space under a heightened bed can make for an incredibly cozy hang-out or study nook — but don’t forget to color-coordinate the pillows down there with the rest of your bedding.

Finally, play around with lights. If you want to have a two-person dance party with your roommate, look into getting a mini strobe light or mini disco ball from Target. If you talk to your RA, you could possibly get lanterns or Christmas lights as an alternative to those blinding, fluorescent ceiling lights.

Just don’t set your room on fire. Burnt and blackened furniture might be an expression of identity, but not one you’ll want to communicate.