Make It Your Own: College Decorating for Beginners
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many students are living on campus for the first time while attending classes in person. I know quite a few people who have moved away from home into their own space. At Arcadia, there are many options when it comes to living on campus: Dorms like Kistler and Dilworth, the Oak Summit apartments, and alternative residencies such as Knight Hall. All of these options come with basic furniture like beds, dressers, desks, and couches (for Oak and Knight), but other than that, are nearly bare. This sometimes makes the environment feel stale and impersonal, which can really affect your mental well-being. In dorms and Knight Hall, the walls are essentially concrete blocks, and in Oak, you do not want to put anything up that could land you a fee for destruction of property. But you can have the best of both worlds, simultaneously making college housing your own while avoiding a fine.
The first and most simple step to personalizing your space revolves around the spot where you will likely be spending the most time: your bed. Of course you need bed sheets, but not just any bed sheets. You can find sheets with unique prints that represent bits of your personality on online markets like Amazon or in person at places like Target. My sheets are shark patterned (if I was better at science, I would have been a marine biologist), and my roommate sleeps among dinosaurs on hers. Blankets with fun patterns can also bring a room together. Picking a color scheme can be helpful, but don’t be afraid to be eclectic in your choices. My bed is shark themed with a bright pink quilt! My last bit of advice is to add pieces of your childhood. Sure, you’re in college now, which is terrifying in many ways, but those fond reminders can be fun and just what you need when you need a smile or laugh. I practice what I preach, of course. I brought all my favorite stuffed animals, which I have stacked on a chair when they’re not on my bed.. Stuffed animals not only add personality to a room but are squeezable stress busters when midterms start driving you crazy.
In Oak Summit, there is no real central light in each room, so you have to provide your own, or in dorms, the lights are either fluorescent and blinding or heavily yellow and dull. All of which lead to another decorating opportunity. There are ways to brighten up a room that you can design, like LEDs or string lights. LEDs are easy to apply and come off without ripping off paint (for the most part) and string lights can be put nearly anywhere. LEDs also don’t pose a fire risk like some bulbs can. With LEDs, I suggest lining either your baseboards (right above the floor) or right under the ceiling in the corners. Most LEDs come with a remote that allows you to change the colors to match your mood for the day. When I study, I turn my lights purple, and when I want to hang out with friends, I turn them to blue. String lights can provide much softer lighting, which helps after being in class, staring at screens all day. Christmas tree lights are perfect for decorating and not just during the holidays!
The last decorating tip, and maybe the most important, is about what to put on your walls without leaving any damage. Finding posters, photos, and other things to hang is pretty easy. On the USPS website, there is also an option to print large posters for under a dollar. I suggest looking on Pinterest for photos that represent some of your interests (I have some from movies I like, bands I enjoy, and just cute ones of frogs and such) and then downloading them. You can get them printed in the Mail Room as well, at the mail and print station for relatively cheap. Redbubble is also a fantastic place to find posters, with a lot of original art and free shipping if you spend $15 or more. Next, check out the nearest Walgreens or CVS with a photo lab. You can print pictures from your phone onto shiny photo paper. Pictures of your friends, family, and animals can brighten a room and help you feel better on rough days. I have pictures of my partner and friends on my wall, alongside some postcards. Looking at them everyday reminds me of all our fun times and helps when I am struggling.
Last, I suggest checking out thrift stores for cool things to hang on your wall. New Life Thrift, a few miles down Easton Road, is a fantastic place to start. They have an entire room that is just picture frames and art for super cheap. There are also metal wall decorations that are super neat and vintage selling for pennies. When it comes to what you use to hang these items up, I have two words of wisdom for everyone: Command strips. They are the only thing that I have found that works on the concrete walls, as well as the Oak Summit walls without damaging the paint at all. They can easily be found at Target or Walmart, and while they are pricier, it is definitely worth the investment. You also can buy hooks if you are looking to hang specific things up as well.
I hope these tips can help break out the inner you. Happy decorating, Knights!