You’re determined to be on top of your game this year – you’ve been working out, you’ve already done a load of laundry and you’re SparkNoting your assigned reading before it’s due. There’s just one thing that’s bringing you down: your room.
You may be a freshman squeezed into a triple on South Campus, a sophomore sweating in the un-air-conditioned Quad, a junior living it up on West Campus, or a senior wrestling with your landlord’s rules off campus, but the problem is the same: How do I take four white walls and make them my own?With building codes rules and strict prohibitions on homey touches like candles and hung art, making your room a little more “you” can be a challenge and can be especially taxing on a student’s wallet. Luckily, there are a few tips and tricks that will make decorating your space a little easier on both your mind and your wallet.The first thing most students notice on move-in day is just how little their room really is. While those living in a few residence halls on campus enjoy high ceilings and a generous allotment of floor space, students living in the Quad and on South need to make the most of their 130 square feet. On South particularly, the easiest way to gain some much needed space in the middle of your room is to rearrange the furniture.The floor arrangements in Stanford are probably the easiest to manipulate. When freshmen check in, the room is symmetrical, with a bed and a desk on either side. Turning one bed so it’s perpendicular to the other and pushing it against the window, however, frees up a lot of space in the middle of the room. Slide your desk a few feet over so it’s against the bed, and you gain a few extra feet for lounging, setting you up to be the place to go for “Grey’s Anatomy” nights with your hallmates.But what if you’re in the Quad, where the furniture arrangements are set in stone? When you can’t slide the bed around to save a few feet of floor-space, keeping organized is the easiest way to make the most of your room. Stacking milk crates on their sides makes for a cheap shelving solution when you run out of room, but for those seeking a more visually pleasing means of shelving, Target and Bed Bath & Beyond both have stackable shelves that you can attach and detach as you see fit.Once you have more space, it’s time to make it look good. By far the most popular way to decorate a room is hanging posters, as evidenced by the mob of students at every poster sale on campus. Beyond the Wall sells posters outside of Connelly Center and inside Dougherty a few times a year, and AllPosters.com sells a variety of posters geared specifically toward college students.Villanova’s restrictions on taping things to on-campus walls and many landlords’ ban on anything that could damage an apartment’s paint job make hanging up posters a challenge, but there are ways to get around it. Scotch tape, easy to apply and remove, is surprisingly effective at hanging posters on the University’s cinderblock walls, and it won’t get you a damage bill at the end of the year. In apartments, poster putty is typically safe for most walls, but it’s a good idea to test it in an inconspicuous area before you put it to wide use.If you’re seeking decorations a little more unique than a poster but you don’t want to invest too much money or energy into the project, hanging fabric on your wall is a great way to spruce up your space. Thrift stores in the area sell cheap sheets, making it easy to find interesting patterns and designs that fit your personality without spending too much money. Attaching the fabric with poster putty or mounting tape, both of which are available at the University Shop, will save your walls and secure your fabric, creating the illusion of wallpaper and covering up the white walls most Villanovans call their own.Another fun way to decorate a wall is with butcher paper. It’s available at most art supply stores. Hanging it up with mounting tape and covering an entire wall can provide a much needed burst of color, but it’s also great for friends to write messages on throughout the year.One of the most often forgotten spaces in your room when it comes time to decorate is the floor. While most of your classmates most likely picked up a neutral-colored rug their freshman year and let it follow them throughout their years at school, it’s much more interesting to go with bright shades and funky patterns when selecting your floor covering. Ikea sells rugs at cheap prices in bold colors and crazy textures, but don’t count out Rite Aid or Target either; both stores have been known to carry interesting rugs around the beginning of the school year.As far as brightening up a room, never underestimate the power of plastic flowers. Though usually relegated to your grandmother’s living room, the flowers obviously require no care at all – just a cheap vase and a place of honor in your room. Both the vase and the flowers are available at craft stores.For the more ambitious resident, there’s always the pinnacle of room dÃ©cor to pursue: the tiny couch. Ikea, that compendium of all cheap furniture, has often proven itself the best source for lounge furniture in the area. Butterfly chairs, fold-out futons and one-person couches can be found if you scour the store thoroughly enough, often for under $150. It’s advisable, however, not to split the cost with a roommate; the last thing you want to deal with at the end of the year is a fight over furniture.Whatever you choose to do with your room, make sure to clear it with your roommates first. It’s best not to pull a Spencer and paint a “Hollywood” mural on the wall if the Heidi in your life prefers a blank canvas. Consulting and compromising are typically the best policies when a decorating conflict comes up in the scheme of things; there’s no worse feeling than coming home and seeing that your graffiti masterpiece has been recovered by white paint.All in all, turning the standard room or apartment into a more personal space doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. An investment of just a little time and energy often ends with the best results: a comfortable home-away-from-home that is truly you.