For the Freshman: Dorm Decorating

By Justine Figueroa on June 10, 2012

Since I began my time at USF in the summer of 2010, I’ve gotten the chance to live on campus for 5 semesters. I’ve lived in almost every style of housing that USF has to offer. I did a ton of research before applying for housing so, I consider myself to be something of expert on the matter. During my first semester at USF, I lived in Beta Hall, a traditional-style building where you share a room with one roommate and share a community bathroom with your hall mates. During the following fall and spring I lived in Kappa Hall, an eight person suite in the Andros area where you have one roommate and share one bathroom with eight suitemates. I’ve also lived in Magnolia Apartments, where you have the option to share your apartment with 2-3 other people. You get your own bedroom and share a bathroom with 1 or 2 people.

Even though I’m a junior, I feel as though I began my collegiate career at USF  not that long ago. I still remember the first day jitters I had and how nervous I was about living on campus. The idea of living with a stranger can be daunting and so can the drastic (and fast!) change in environment.

For freshman, I would definitely suggest living in a traditional-style building because there are more chances to interact with your fellow residents. At first, I was apprehensive at the thought of living in Beta, mostly because I was dreading using a community bathroom, but I must admit that it was not nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be.

One of my favorite parts of living on campus is getting to decorate a new room every year. I like to change up my décor every year. Since I’ve lived in a different style of housing each time, I’ve had the chance to try out lots of fun ways to decorate my room. I’ve compiled a list of useful tips to help you decide what to bring to your new home here on the USF campus.

1-Take a tour:
Before you decide where you want to live I would definitely suggest taking a tour. You should first take a campus tour. The general campus tour also includes a housing component. You will be able to go into different halls and see actual rooms so you have an idea of what you like and don’t like. There is also a tour that’s run by Housing & Residential Education. You should also go on this tour because each tour will show you different styles of on-campus housing than the regular campus tour. I would also suggest liking USF Housing & Residential Education on Facebook so that you can see the photos they have of the different styles as well as get reminders from the department about application and payment deadlines.

2-Follow housing policies:
Before you begin shopping for décor and supplies, you should definitely brush up on housing policies. Make sure that you know what you’re allowed to bring and what you aren’t, in order to avoid any inconvenience that buying and bringing prohibited items may cause to you. You should receive a list of suggested items from the housing department. Be aware that you don’t have to stick to that list explicitly, just don’t bother bringing anything that isn’t allowed.

3-Consider your space:
When going on your housing tours, make sure to take into account the amount of wall, floor and closet space that each room provides. This will be crucial in helping you decide what décor you can fit in your room. Also, consider your roommates. They will probably want to decorate areas of the room too, so be sure to let them have a chance and an area to express themselves in your shared space.

4- Pick a color scheme:
When choosing how to decorate your room, I think it’s very important to decide on a color scheme. Color always helps fit the mood you want to evoke in your space. This past year, my bedding, wall decorations and décor all had hints of gold, brown or bronze so the room felt very warm and comfortable. Picking a color scheme that makes you feel relaxed (cool blues, deep cobalt and bright teal tones, for example) will help take away from the starkness of having an all white room.

5-Think outside the box:
Since you have some rules to abide by, making your room look unique can be tricky. My suggestion would definitely be to stray from the norm! You don’t have to use the stuff you find in the dorm section of your favorite store that everyone else will have. I’ve covered my walls with some of my favorite photos, framed prints of artwork done by friends, magazine cutouts, framed posters, collages, quotes and a tapestry. I’ve also got all manner of interesting boxes to hold jewelry, writing utensils and other supplies. Think about interesting ways to display your necessities to show your personality in your new space.

6-Consider additional storage:
I would definitely suggest bringing additional storage. Clear plastic drawers to stow away textbooks, extra clothes, blankets, or supplies will only help you stay organized. In most cases, you’ll have enough space in your room to keep them under your bed, so you won’t have to worry about taking up extra floor space.

7-Have fun!:
Lastly, I have to suggest that you have fun with it! No matter which style of housing you end up in, you’re guaranteed to have some fun. It’s your room and you have a whole year to find interesting ways to make it your own and make amazing memories.

I hope these tips are helpful!

Have you lived away from home before? What advice did you follow when choosing your necessities? Was there anything you wished you’d known beforehand? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

Justine is a junior majoring in mass communications with a focus in magazine production and minoring in creative writing at the University of South Florida. She is considering dual minoring in creative writing and women's studies. She is currently the Editor-in-Chief of Her Campus USF. She has aspirations to become a creative director for a magazine, novelist, poet, editor and much more. She enjoys writing about fashion, beauty, art, literature, pop culture and student life. She spends most days listening to Lana del Rey, being self-deprecating and trying to figure out when she can take a nap. You can follow her on Twitter @tinafigs_.

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