Home sweet home: Dorm decor takes on new importance

By Eliza King Freedman

The college dorm room, the often-crusty, white-walled box assigned to each student as a place to sleep between trips to the library and late nights at the Grille, has taken on a new meaning throughout the pandemic. Once a space to be avoided, the dorm room has become a place where many feel the most safe — tucked away from awkward, masked facial recognition and the dangers of contracting Covid-19. And so — from paintings to homemade quilts to posters — MiddKids have taken strides this year to make their dorm rooms feel more their own than ever before.

Maeve Callahan ’22 has dedicated her room to everything that makes her feel calm and at home. She says that the pandemic has exacerbated her anxiety and prompted her to put extra effort into making her room feel as homey as possible. 

“I don’t know if you could get a sense of empathy from a room, but … I hope people feel that from me, and from my style,” she said. 

Courtesy of Maeve Callahan

Callahan’s room features a quilt her mother made out of old T-shirts, as well as a display of letters written to her and artwork made by her and her friends — reminders of home and people. The space reflects a concept of prioritizing oneself, something that many only recently discovered after being forced to spend the better part of the last year in quarantine.

Similar to Callahan, Tim DeLorenzo ’21 has put extra effort this year into creating a dorm room that is a space in which he can live and invest time. After discovering painting during his junior year, DeLorenzo delved into the art form during quarantine, finding inspiration from artists like Kandinsky, Klee and Krasner. This year, he turned his room in the Château into a functioning art studio. 

Courtesy of Tim DeLorenzo

“Covid has made my headspace like this, like I don’t know if it would look like this if Covid didn’t happen,” DeLorenzo said. “If I wasn’t at home for months just doing [art], maybe I wouldn’t be so interested in it, and maybe it would be something I would have to pull out from under my bed to show you.”

This pandemic has given students permission to explore and reflect on what they need to be happy, especially in isolation. And DeLorenzo’s room embodies that idea of taking a bland room and turning it into a space that reflects its inhabitant. 

Ryan Kirby ’22 has filled his room with musical influences and works of art, surrounding himself with things that inspire him. He has an entire wall dedicated to Whitney Houston, the late singer he so-lovingly referred to as his “muse.” “I want it to be a very chaotic space, always a birthplace of new ideas — almost like a workshop,” Kirby said. 

Courtesy of Ryan Kirby

Kirby emphasized the way that his room is tailored to him, his lifestyle and the people in his life more so than it was before Covid-19. “It’s art, and it’s pretty pictures. Just somewhere people can let loose and just feel bright, because it can be pretty dark and scary outside,” Kirby said. 

A dorm room is more than a place to sleep — it is a place we will remember, a place we will spend time and a place that we should try to love. These rooms serve not only as inspiration of what we can do to create comfort in our dorms, but also remind us that there can be something truly special about the blank canvases given to us at the start of each year. 

Editor’s Note: See the slideshow below for examples from more students of ways that they have tailored their spaces to their lives this past year.