Confessions of an RA: Tiny Room, Big Personality
The best place to get over claustrophobia is at college.
It’s true that for most of us, living conditions at school are quite substandard by comparison to the large bay windows overlooking the sea, mannerly butlers, and savory ten-course meals we experience at home. But when forced to deal with dorm cells rooms there are a few different tricks for making your space more like home.
For Lilliputian living spaces:
Remember the three C’s: Composition, Clutter, and Kindle
To make a room look larger, first think about composition. The more visible floor space there is, the bigger a room appears. Put large items of furniture—like desks, beds, and wardrobes—against the walls. Instead of arranging your room so that the bed juts into the center, push it into a corner so that two sides are against the wall. Save even more space by lofting your bed and sticking your dresser underneath.
Cutting down on clutter does wonders to change the diminutive appearance of your space. Give away as much as you can, and make sure the stuff you keep doesn't wind up on the floor. Consider purchasing a cork board for miscellaneous papers and a storage unit for extra stuff. Go even bolder and make your bed. Not only does a made bed provide extra seating space, but it’s also visually appealing and in accordance with the noble art of Fung Shui.
Kindle, a thesaurus.com alternative to "light," is an oft-overlooked solution to broadening tiny spaces. Essentially, the better-lit a room, the larger it appears. Throw up the sash, and nix heavy drapery to give your room width and depth. If your room lacks natural light sources, rely on artificial. Try a funky floor lamp, or even Christmas lights strung along the walls.
If your room is an austere desert:
Add warmth, personalize, and invite.
Posters can only go so far when disguising cinder block walls. If your room feels austere or barren, like it’s a place of transition rather than a home, there are many simple ways of adding an element of coziness or invitation.
Warm colors and monochromatic themes can help to make a dorm room feel homier. Pick a color and then design your room around its many different shades. An accent color can also spice things up if the room feels drab. For example, different shades of a subdued yellow (butter yellow, cream, or gold—steer clear of warning or urine yellow) work nicely with an accent of light purple or blue in a throw pillow, rug, or set of curtains.
Personalize your room with photographs and mementos. The more your room reminds you of home, the more it will feel like a home. If you have little siblings, ask them to draw you a picture that you can hang up. If you're close with your grandma, snag a photo of her and put it on your desk. If certain quotes inspire you, copy them out on to a piece of construction paper and tape them to your wall. Essentially, do with your dorm what professionals do with their offices: mark it as yours.
Most importantly, climb out of your awkward turtle shell and invite some people over. Nothing makes a room seem more inviting than the presence of good company. Don’t have any friends? Keep your door open when you’re not studying so that your floormates feel welcome to pop in from time to time. Invite them in to watch a funny youtube video, or even just to sit and do homework. The company of others, whether in relaxation or study, turns a room into a residence.
Think about it: your dorm room is your home for more than 2/3 of the year. Just because you’re not officially “out on your own” doesn’t mean you shouldn’t treat your primary place of residence like it’s exactly that. Turn up the kindle and add a splash of color; your butlers and bay windows were overrated anyway.
What does your dorm room look like? Have you personalized it?
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