Color your world

For most students, winter break was spent in the comfort of our own homes. The idea of coming back to the residence halls made us take more pleasure out of our bedrooms at home. If your room on campus is lacking something, it may be time to do a little bit of redecorating for the semester.

Over the summer, you probably spent a pretty penny buying everything you would need to make your room as much a reflection of you as possible. Campus living offers limited space, but there are various ways to make the best of things. And there is no better way to make a space yours than with some decoration.

Before you decide to buy a new comforter or area rug for your room, remind yourself of the rules to follow: No candles or incense may be burned; you cannot “borrow” furniture from public areas in your residence hall; if you are lofting your beds or bunking them, check with your resident assistant (RA) to make sure you will have safe slumber; and I know many of you have plenty of things to plug in (TV’s, video game consoles, etc.), so please refrain from using extension cords.

Before you run out to max out your credit card, a good idea would be to decide on a color scheme. Are you funky and want bright pinks and oranges? Are you calm and prefer various shades of blue?

Once you have a basic idea of what you want to do with your room, figure out if you want to rearrange the furniture. USF provides every student with a desk, chair, dresser and bed in their rooms. If you have a roommate, consult with him or her about any ideas that you may have. You both have to share space, so make sure you are both satisfied with it. Go around and look at your friends’ rooms to see what they have done for inspiration. And make sure you are happy with your room arrangement. That way, in the middle of the semester, you do not decide to try feng shui while your entire life is packed into your space.

Just because furniture is provided doesn’t mean you can’t add more. Adding more – but not too much – furniture can make your room unique while providing you with extra comfort or versatility. If you have the room, a futon is a great idea for a couch or a bed for when friends come and visit. Ottomans are great as chairs, footrests and coffee tables. Beanbag chairs are also another option. Many students also provide themselves with bookshelves and end tables for more space and decoration.

One of the most important elements in any room is wall décor. No one wants to stare at a blank, gray wall of nothing. There are so many things you can do with the walls of your room. Posters of your favorite bands, movies, or actors are staples. Hanging up a bulletin board for important notes and pictures is also a common theme. And no room is complete without a string of holiday lights to jazz things up a bit. However, many of us face a dilemma when it comes to hanging up such items. What do we do? Unfortunately, we cannot put thumbtacks into our walls, so we must resort to tape and “sticky tack.” A friendly reminder: make sure you do not damage your wall when hanging things up or else you may be responsible for paying damages at the end of the semester.

You probably brought most of your life with you from home and are realizing that you don’t have much room to store everything. Thankfully, there are various types of storage units to fit your needs, tastes and wallet. Walk into any store that carries home and office supplies and you will have your choice of whatever storage you want. Like shelving? You can buy a small bookcase to store books, electronics or even toiletries and shoes. Want more drawers? Heavy-duty plastic drawer units that can have anywhere from one to five drawers and small enough to fit on your desk or large enough to fit under your bed.

Little things always add the perfect touch to whatever you are designing. This rule holds true for your room, as well. For some added color and decoration, try an area rug. It can give those who cannot sit anywhere else in your room a little bit of comfort while they are stuck on the floor. A great accessory to your room’s décor is a lamp. And if you want something extra fun, neon signs and lava lamps can definitely jump-start a room’s style. Another fun accessory to your room is a fish. Remember that the only pets allowed in the residence halls are tropical fish. Buy a small tank, a cute fish and decorate your fish’s tank to fit your style while giving the fish a fun place to swim. And if you want something that is alive but doesn’t swim, a small plant is another good option. Find a plant that is small enough to fit on your desk; that way it doesn’t take up much space and you will remember to water it.

Now that you have some ideas running through your head, where do you go to find what you want? Almost every college student has roamed the aisles of Bed, Bath & Beyond. It’s Web site has a specific section dedicated to furnishing a dorm. The company also provide a checklist of things to bring, while reminding you of things to leave at home. If you are on a budget, which most of you are, there is no harm in checking out Target and Wal-Mart. Target is very popular to find inexpensive goodies for dorm rooms, especially bedding and wall décor. Wal-Mart is a great place to find storage units and electronics at savvy prices.

With a little bit of inspiration, drive and money, you can have the best room in your hall. Remember the rules, watch your budget and have fun with what you are doing. You will more than likely be in your room until May, so make the most of it.