Room For Creativity: Interesting Macalester Spaces

Kate+Rhodes17+and+Talia+Young17+enjoy+their+decorated+Wallace+room+together.+Photo+by+Max+Guttman16.

Kate Rhodes’17 and Talia Young’17 enjoy their decorated Wallace room together. Photo by Max Guttman’16.

Decorating a room while in college can be an intimidating task, especially since the stark white walls, sterile lighting and homogenous furniture of a dorm don’t create the most welcoming atmosphere. Despite these apparent challenges, many students work hard to make their spaces feel more like home.

“I like having a space where I’m excited to go to sleep because it’s so lovely,” Kate Rhodes ’17 said, referring to her Wallace double.

Rhodes and her roommate have transformed their room into a dreamy, tranquil space. Twinkle lights and gauzy curtains hang from every corner, while a paper lantern glows in the walk-in closet. A wall decal of a flowering tree covers most of the main wall in the room, brightening the area significantly. From first sight, it is clear that Rhodes and her roommate have put a great deal of thought into decorating their room.

“We moved our room around four or five times in the first month,” Rhodes admitted. “Then, I went to IKEA with my mom and we were able to buy a bunch of pieces that brought it all together.”

Hannah Rockwell ’17 and Lena Schaller ’17, residents of GDD, also praised the decorating opportunities IKEA presented.

“If you don’t know what to get, you can just walk through the storeroom and find stuff that looks cool,” Schaller explained.

Schaller and Rockwell share their GDD suite with two other students, all of whom have worked together to fix up what was an initially disappointing space.

“The first thought when we came in here was how terrible the furniture was,” Schaller said. “The couch was this weird, green-pea color. Immediately, Hannah was like ‘we’ll have to cover that one.’”

“We just wanted someplace that felt cozy, where we could hang out after a long stressful day and felt like ours,” Rockwell added.

To that end, the roommates have put up boldly-patterned wallpaper, a large area rug and eclectic posters and calendars.

Others in the GDD residence hall have taken a very different approach to decoration. Anson Justi ’17 lives in a six-person suite with walls that are devoid of much color. Instead, Justi and his roommates make themselves at home using their wide variety of toys and appliances.

“A lot of rooms have a TV and an Xbox,” Justi said. “But we have multiples of both.”

As Justi puts it, the extras are not excessive, but help maintain harmony among the roommates.

Instead of being forced to make unhappy compromise on recreational time, everyone can relax as they like. Unfortunately, living with five other close friends is not without its drawbacks.

Justi admits that the room can be extremely difficult to keep clean.

“Clean every week because if you miss a week, it gets real gross,” Justi said, gesturing at the piles of clothes on the ground.

Many students use organization and the division of chores to keep their rooms neat.

John Glasgow ’17 of 30 Mac explained, “We are generally neat people, so we take turns divvying out who does what chores. One week, one of us will do the trash and the other person will vacuum and dust. We’ll switch out and do what chores need to be done.”

The result of this meticulous cleaning is a spotless and hospitable room. Glasgow and his roommate lofted their beds to create a small sitting room by their window, which is seasonally decorated with window gels. They also put up a plethora of warm lights to give the room a homier feeling.

“We compartmentalize[d] the room,” Glasgow said. “We treat it as a multi-functional space, like an apartment with bedrooms, a study and a miniature living room.”

Connor Valenti ’17, a resident of Wallace, also had a creative method of separating his space. Rather than lofting his beds, Valenti opted to push his desk into his walk-in closet.

“I thought it would give more open space to the rest of the room and I was intrigued by the possibility,” Valenti said. “It was an experiment and so far, I’ve liked it.”

Valenti explained that while he rarely closeted himself off from the rest of the room, he did enjoy the possibility of a private study space. The main benefit of the closet desk, however, was the open floor space that it left Valenti and his roommate.

“When we saw our room last year, we thought about how to arrange it because we wanted a lot of open area for our friends to come and hang out,” Valenti said.

The closet desk, while unconventional, is the perfect solution. After all, dorm room decorating is in large part the art of making the most of the space available. For some, this task is weighed down by the stigma surrounding moving into Dupre.

“I was really worried that it was going to be bad,” Kate Raybon ’18 said. “But I thought, it’s a college dorm, it’s not supposed to be a really great apartment.”

Raybon and her roommate have looked past the negative discussions surrounding their dorm, focusing instead on decorating in a fun and personal manner.

“I really like maps, so I put up four maps on the wall,” Raybon said. “[My roommate] travelled to a bunch of places so she really likes foreign looking things. We have a rug, tapestry, French painting and Tibetan prayer flags.”

In a small, cramped dorm room, the walls and floor space are easy to fill. Unfortunately, for those who live off-campus, the issue becomes filling an entire house with comfortable furniture and decorations.

“There’s a lot of things you need that you don’t have,” Julia Hobart ’15 said. “…it ends up being pretty expensive.”

Hobart has worked hard to create a friendly, open space. Using online resources and connections with Mac students, she found a number of inexpensive but fun pieces of furniture.

“[The house] is really cozy,” Hobart said, “and has benefitted from my weird obsession with buying things on Craigslist. I bought this artisan area rug for 40 bucks and it’s super homey and brings the room together.”

For Mac students of all years, moving into a new space can be a challenge. However, on-campus decorating enthusiasts all agree on key starting points.

“Cover up your walls with colorful things that you like because the cinderblocks are really dull and sad-looking,” Raybon added.

Schaller and Rockwell offered a more modern option. “We made a Pinterest board before we got here and were pinning ideas,” Rockwell said. “It’s good inspiration.”

Rhodes emphasized patience and effort. “Try everything,” Rhodes said. “Take things down, move them around, put them back up. Make a space where you are happy.”