Some Centre students' dorm rooms are anything but the norm

October 18, 2004|KATIE McBRIDE

Every fall college students face a very difficult task: How do you make a cramped dorm room cozy? With a little creativity, students learn how to make a little do a lot.

The goal of Jenny Dryden and Cher Reynolds, both seniors at Centre College, is to hide the white walls in their room. Armed with a hot glue gun, they adhered 16 yards of burgundy fabric and black glitter felt to the walls. The glue gun provides a "quick fix" because it will hold the fabric while allowing for an easy removal that won't damage the walls. Green ribbon covers the seams.

"We hate white walls," Reynolds says.

"I was wary of the glitter felt," Dryden comments, "but I like how it turned out.

Another wall accent is a quilt from an antique store Dryden's grandmother owns. This covers up the wall space not already covered by the fabric and connotes feelings of home.


Cost presents another serious challenge to any college student but Reynolds and Dryden were able to keep their alterations inexpensive. The fabric cost around $40. Considering the average price for a poster is $10 and the fabric covers more space, this provides maximum coverage at minimum cost.

Extra storage space comes from a detailed set of shelves with ornate corners, the result of Reynolds' father-daughter summer project. One sits on the desk and the other fits over the refrigerator.

Also unique to the room is the couch. A $10 yard-sale find, Reynolds' stepmother stripped everything off, added new padding and covered it in purple corduroy. Reynolds was skeptical, but in the end, it cost about $70-$90 to transform the ugly reject into a stylish love seat.

"It's my couch," Reynolds says. "No one has anything like it."

She also reupholstered her desk chair to match.

Adding to the yard sale discoveries is Reynolds' dresser. After painting it, she covered the front of the drawers with foam and fabric, using a staple gun to keep it in place. The result is a quilted look.

"I come from a really artsy family," Reynolds explains.

Finding the balance in different styles

One of the challenges in dorm room decor is balancing the different styles of two different roommates. Dryden describes the room as "multicultural," with her Asian fans and Reynolds' posh furniture. "It's hard to mix two people's stuff into one room but we did it," Reynolds says.

Although it took about 15 hours to complete the setup, Dryden and Reynolds feel it was worth it.

"We're living here for nine months and a poster on the wall doesn't cover it," says Reynolds.

Bright colors and quilted dressers won't work for everyone. Guys tend to take a simpler approach to making the most out of their dorm room. Spencer Clark and Ryan Gardner, both juniors at Centre, have a laid-back decorating style.

Gardner calls the room an "electronic playground," with the main focus being drawn to the 32-inch television. Surrounding the TV on a black plastic shelf, are two 400 watt stereo systems and four video game systems.

"We have lots of distractions," Gardner says. "It's ironic that the floor below us is a study-intensive hall."

One clever idea they have used to open up the room is removing the bottom bunk bed, adding a piece of plywood for stability, and putting Clark's futon under the top bunk. He got the idea from helping a friend make the same arrangement in his room last year. The futon functions as a couch by day and pulls out into a full bed for night. This provides more seating for guests without encroaching on the limited floor space.

Also to improve space, Clark built two drawers for the floor of his closet to provide additional clothing storage.

To enliven the stark walls, the men have put up posters from their favorite bands and movies. Clark explains that although they both have different tastes in music, they've learned to compromise.

The task of taking a small white room and making it home seems daunting, but it doesn't have to be. All you need is some creativity and maybe a glue gun.

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