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Creative touches make dorm, apartment living cozy

Sept. 3, 2003

By Marion Hixon, reporter

A new apartment or dorm room can be exciting. Moving in with close friends can bring hilarious memories and comfortable living.

But after a few weeks, things can become stressful when the walls remain unpainted and overflowing moving boxes still sit in the doorway.

Lindsay Sterchi, an Orlando, Fla., freshman and Elizabeth Staples, a Branson, Mo. freshman, live on the first floor of Ruth Collins Residence Hall. The girls met at Kanakuk Kamps during high school and have kept in touch over the summer to plan the design of their room.

'I flew down to Orlando for a week to visit Lindsay, and we went shopping together so we could match things like our comforters and curtains,' Staples said. 'We would also talk on the phone a lot to coordinate our room.'

Making the most of a space

To create more space, the girls have placed their beds in the corner, and the beige carpeting creates a more comfortable atmosphere than the original white tile floors that came in the room.

'We're both actually a lot alike, and we are pretty clean, so the room tends to look bigger when it's not so cluttered,' Sterchi said.

A small Beta fish named Kelly sits on top of a shelf between their desks, adding more life to the room. That's not the only lifelike addition to the room, seeing as how the girls turned a blank 12 feet by 14 feet canvas into a colorful living space.

Elizabeth Wallace, associate director for personnel and residence education, works with Community Living and Learning and said that over the summer, students were able to visit and see model dorm rooms furnished by Target, Linens 'n Things and Wal-Mart.

'I am always amazed at the creativity of students and their ability to have simple solutions to complex space and environmental issues,' Wallace said.

Sterchi and Staples said that when there are restrictions on decorating a room, such as not being able to nail, glue or staple the walls or ceiling, Command Hooks could come in handy. Command Hooks are a sticky mount for the wall and are useful for hanging posters and picture frames to make the room more vibrant.

Apartment living, decorating

Decorating a dorm room can seem like a feat to accomplish. However, an apartment complex is on the opposite end of the spectrum when size and decorating freedom are concerned.

'I definitely enjoy my apartment more than the dorms. It's easier to pick out things when you share the same interests with your roommates.' Jacob Combo, a Houston junior, said. 'I appreciate living in such a big space, because now we have room for a washer and dryer and the living room is big enough for our stereo and television.'

Combo and his roommates chose to decorate their apartment in a baseball theme.

Getting creative with style

The Craft Gallery of Waco, at 7524 Bosque Blvd., is a popular spot for dorm and apartment decorations. The store has more than 200 vendors set up separate booths of craft and home items.

Recently, the most popular sales have been bulletin boards and decorative storage buckets, both of which can be personalized.

'We get extremely busy around the beginning of the [school] year,' Marsha Albee, store manager of the Craft Gallery, said. 'Students come in while their parents are still in town and when they are settling into their new rooms.'

Albee recently entered into the interior design business. Students, families and any customer who wants to redecorate can call her for free tips and a consultation on their apartment. For payment, she will return later to redesign a room.

Many upperclassmen that chose to live in apartments realize they have more freedom to be creative with furniture and storage space.

Kennedy Dean, a Blue Spring, Mo., junior said that his roommates and he have found several ways of making the apartment more comfortable to live in and spacious at the same time. He constructed his loft bed a year ago.

'My bed was pretty easy and cheap to make, and it has saved me a lot of money,' Dean said. 'It's really convenient because I have more wall space since my desk is underneath the bed.'

No matter what restrictions are placed on living arrangements or how little space there is to accommodate, students seem to be adding their own personality to any space they can find.

And when it comes down to it, most people are looking to make their new dwelling place more like a home.