Crafting the Perfect Dorm Room: What Makes It Like Home?


Savannah Sturgeon is at peace in her dorm room in McKeon Hall. (Jessica Hanley/ The Observer)
Savannah Sturgeon is at peace in her dorm room in McKeon Hall. (Jessica Hanley/ The Observer)

College dorms. They’re small, cramped and probably not as big as your room back home, but face it: this is your life now. Since you’re living in Manhattan, chances are all your future real estate will feel like a glorified shoe box in comparison to your childhood bedroom.  Why not make the best of it? Take this opportunity to explore your personal style and test your creative genius. 

Making a fun and functional space out of your dorm room isn’t as impossible as it might seem. In fact, there are some Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) students who have seriously tricked out their personal dorm space. 

“I just took all my favorite things that I had or that people had given me, and I brought it to college. I like to think of it as a bohemian Mexican love garden,” Savannah Sturgeon, FCLC ’16 and McKeon Hall resident, said  Sturgeon claims that her warmly lit dorm room just fell together. “Don’t try too hard. Just stick to what you like, don’t try to have someone else’s style.” Sturgeon definitely has a style all her own, with walls draped in bohemian inspired tapestries, her chairs covered with Mexican blankets and a string of peace symbol lights filled the room with warmth. Her record player sat on a chest in the corner next to her guitar on her multicolored rug. “I wanted to create a warm and inviting space for friends and myself. I love having people over.” She talked about how most of the things were knickknacks, gifts or things she just had lying around at home. What’s her quick fix recomendation for adding some life to your dorm? “Add tapestries! I made one of mine a curtain and the other one brightens up that plain white wall.” Sturgeon stressed the importance of keeping a small space clean and not getting fixated on everything matching perfectly. 

A calm environment is important for Joe Riley, FCLC ‘16 and a McKeon Hall resident. “I value having somewhere that I can unwind and relax, which helps me keep focused,” Riley said. Riley’s room is set up like a mini studio. His bed and fridge are separated from the rest of the room by two large green curtains. “I’m from Seattle, so I like a lot of green. It’s my way of bringing the west coast to the east coast.” Riley has small plants on his desk, a green rug to match his curtains and a poster of Seattle neighborhoods drawn in green ink.  Riley raved about his view of New York City and how it inspires him as an urban studies major. “I think having a lot of seating and having something that’s colorful and comfortable is important. My  [inflatable] couch also doubles as a queen-sized bed. If I have guests stay over and just draw the curtains, they have their own space, and I still have mine.” The couch and view are easily his favorite parts of his room, but Riley warned not to underestimate the power of good lighting and considers it an essential to creating a relaxing space.  Riley acknowledges that his couch was a big investment but believes it could save a lot of money for visiting family and friends. Otherwise, most of his dorm room essentials were inexpensive finds at Ikea.  

“As you can see, it’s very colorful,” Jasmine Chacko FCLC ’16, McKeon Hall resident, said. “I didn’t want it to be just white walls because I love color. Everything is really comfortable in my room. I love coming back to my room.” Chacko’s wall is covered in a colorful tapestry. Her bed is pushed up against a wide window and swathed in mounds of fluffy blankets. She has colorful round, seating cushions littering her rug. “This was all impromptu. I would just see something and like it. It just happened to all end up matching. It’s all statement pieces that don’t really match, but it ended up coming together.” Chacko recommended colorful pieces that help brighten up a room, but most importantly, Chacko said to fill your room with things that bring you comfort. 

“I wanted my room to be a place that felt calm because the city is so busy. I’m not a very calm person, but I wanted my room to be a getaway from the city,” Hannah Newman, FCLC ’16 and McMahon Hall resident said. Newman is a dancer who doesn’t get to spend very much time in her room but still wanted to make it a relaxing space for herself. Her room is covered in soft green hues and wall decal in the shapes of birds and flowers. Newman is an advocate for homemade dorm decorations. “I think inexpensive throw pillows and walls filled with artwork are important. If you have artistic friends, ask them to draw you something, even just posters help, or try to make something over the summer as a fun project.” Along with the many drawing and paintings on her walls, Newman made wall art out of an old floorboard from her home; it has her favorite bible verse written on it. 

Having a cool dorm room is all about personal touch, remembering what you love and getting creative with what you’ve already got. Don’t be afraid to make your space your own, and don’t stop yourself from thinking outside of the box. The best dorm rooms aren’t perfectly planned out. The best dorms are a true reflection of who you are and what you love.