Out of Sight, Out of Your Hometown Bedroom?

Renovated Rooms Create Tension at Home for Some Students


To your parents, this bedroom is prime real estate as soon as you head off to college. (Alex Palomino/The Observer)

Published: October 25, 2007

Elissa Dauria, FCLC ’10, returned home to visit her father during her freshman year of college with the expectation of a relaxing weekend in her room. Instead, she found her bedroom littered with male paraphernalia and a small, unwanted guest. “My dad converted my room at his house into a room for my little brother without my permission,” Dauria said. This shocking transformation left Dauria with nowhere to put down her bags and get comfortable. “No joke, I sleep on a futon in the living room,” she said.

Though the melodramatic tears gushing from your parents’ eyes as you leave them behind for college may be partially sincere, for some parents, the moment the kids are out of the house, the HGTV bug bites. While some parents retain their college student’s room as if it were a shrine, other parents are increasingly turning beloved childhood bedrooms into Martha Stewart-esque masterpieces or passing them on to younger siblings.

A recent article in The New York Times indicates that drastic changes to a college student’s bedroom at home can make the transition into college life a lot more difficult. According to the article, with so many changes occurring simultaneously for freshman, students may feel misplaced and have long-lasting bitter feelings toward their parents if their rooms are altered prematurely.

Most students have lived long enough in their childhood bedrooms to form a strong sentimental attachment, making the idea of completely losing that safe haven a frightening one. “I go home every couple of weeks, so I guess I’m still living there,” Patrick Yurga, FCLC ’09, said. “I’d be pretty mad if it changed at all within a couple of weeks.”

The dreaded sibling takeover is another obstacle college students must face in retaining their childhood rooms. “My brothers kept joking about taking my bed after I moved out. I told them, ‘Don’t you dare,’ and they haven’t,” Gabriela Jerez, FCLC ’08, said.

Some students have worked out bargains with younger siblings in order to please both parties. Zach Zumpano, FCLC ’09, said, “My little brother uses [my room], but when I’m home, I get it back.”

Casey Penrod, FCLC ’09, has worked out a similar deal with her younger brother. “My youngest brother uses [my room] as his bedroom when I am not home. My two brothers normally share a room and fight constantly, so I gave it up willingly,” Penrod said. “It doesn’t bother me much because he kept the room the same, and he goes back to his own bedroom when I come home.”

Despite the large amount of parents who just can’t bear having a perfectly good room go unused for months at a time, there are many college students whose rooms have not been touched since their high school days. “[My room is] almost exactly the same as I left it. The closet is reorganized and has some stuff no one in the house wears,” Ashley Pierson, FCLC ’09, said. “I’m glad, because I love sleeping in my bed when I’m home, but all of my high school nostalgia is kind of sad to see now. Bittersweet, I guess.”

Luckily for parents anxious to redecorate, older college students tend to have an easier time parting from their childhood rooms than those who have just flown from the nest. “It used to really bother me when my mom would joke about converting it into a sewing room, but I don’t care that much anymore,” Penrod said.

Others are glad that the empty space they left behind can benefit their family. “I don’t like the fact that my room has been changed even in the slightest. But since we always have family members coming to visit, my house was in desperate need of a guest room. Now they have one, so that is good,” Jerez said.

If severe changes are discussed as a family, students back in town during Thanksgiving break are a lot less likely to receive their home setting with shock or hostility.  Who knows? If parents handle their urges rationally, their children may even welcome change. Bronwyn Berkery, FCLC ’09, said, “I wouldn’t mind if my parents or brother stored more things in my room when I’m away, since I’m not there to use it.”

This makes for a pleasant holiday homecoming, as opposed to flying turkey pieces and students vowing to never return.