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Home / Articles / Guides / Back to School /  Seeking Chic
Back to School

Seeking Chic

The dorm room can be a place where form and function collide. Or not.

By Greg Wilcox
Posted // August 12,2009 -

An obvious way to create a totally awesome dorm room would be to room with “Super” Dell Schanze. Since this option may not be available or desirable to most students, other strategies should be considered. Creating a chill dorm room may seem like a trite concern, but too many students either fail to make it happen or go about it the wrong way. Some succumb to cliché, putting up the “college” poster of John Belushi, then calling it good. Others simply leave their stuff boxed up and make no effort to personalize their space. But, this is your home for a while, and you will want to be comfortable, so here are a few elements to keep in mind.

1. Dry-erase boards
Having a dry-erase board in your dorm room is handy for communicating important dorm issues with roommates and making notes to yourself. Or, alternatively, it doubles as a place for writing profanities and drawing sexually explicit pictures for the sake of comedy.

2. Lava lamp
It’s hard to imagine a time when lava lamps, which came on the scene in the early ’70s, would be uncool. Their hypnotic, cyclical oozings can be the perfect offset to reading a dense essay on, say, the origin of species. Or, they can be fun to watch while getting stoned, but they are also a terrible fire-hazard, so be careful. A dorm room on fire is one to avoid.

3. A good sound system
This may be the most important thing. Without a good sound system, your room will lack soul. You can spend too much money at a place like Best Buy, or you could go to Deseret Industries or Savers, get some cheap speakers, an old stereo module with auxiliary plug ins, a subwoofer, and you’re set. Simply plugging in your iPod to the auxiliary will enable you to listen to your library while giving you a much bigger sound than a dinky iPod station can provide. Make sure to turn up the volume so your neighbors get irritated every so often. Hey, college is a time of rebellion.

4. Posters
Buying posters merely to define your space is pretty desperate. A poster of Bob Marley or two lesbians on a bed making out aren’t necessarily bad ideas, but they may not be a reflection of your personality. Even a nonsensical poster of Elmo would be better if it reflected your innate randomness. Or Marlon Brando on a motorcycle. Or a map. Or a nostalgic poster of Silver Spoons. The possibilities are endless.

Christmas lights
People are suckers for holiday lights. They are less harsh than regular incandescents and illuminate the room with a soft, comforting ambience.

5. Couch
Nothing is more inviting than a couch that says, “Please, sit, stay a while.” A visit to any thrift store or garage sale will show that couches are easily attainable, but use some discretion. It’s one thing to throw on an afghan to cover up coffee stains, but having a couch that smells strange and is irrevocably streaked by mystery stains crosses the line of acceptability.

Large body pillows
A huge, bigger-thannecessary pillow allows for easy lounging. Put it anywhere, whether on the bed, floor or couch, and you have automatic comfort and an ally in relaxation. In fact, it’s better to err on the side of having too many pillows than not enough.

6. Knick-knacks
While your dorm visitors sit on your couch, they’ll need stuff to fiddle and play with. These can include such things as a Rubik’s Cube, an awesome pressurized space pen, Spinal Tap action figures, or the book Diagnostic Picture Tests in Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Ideally, you’ll also want a coffee table on which to put these items.

Shag carpet
Depending on where you live, shag carpet may or may not be an option. But, if you can add carpet, do it. It is so thick and comfortable, it can serve the dual purpose of a bed and, oddly, a great place for “shagging.” Just don’t drop your keys on it—they may never be found.

Propped-up bed, or right on the floor
Many students place their bed up high in order to place a desk and computer under it. It economizes on space, and, in general, makes you feel pretty awesome. But, keeping your bed on the ground is also a practical move. Doing so, you can surf the Internet and do your homework bedside on your laptop, keeping it on the floor next to you. A bed on the floor also requires less setup work.

Whatever route you take in dressing up your dorm room, remember, this humble space is your abode for now. It’s important it become a place of comfort, a destressing environment where the troubles of class, professor, love, and student loans can slip away. This advice doesn’t just apply to dorm rooms. It applies to any room you occupy while attending college— except your parents’ basement. That doesn’t count.

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