Fairy lights and flat-screen TVs: How area college students are decorating their dorms

  • A bedspread in the dorm room of Smith College freshman Emma Smith, Friday, Aug. 30, 2019 was purchased at Urban Outfitters. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Cullen O’Reilly, left, and Joel Delgado hang out in their dorm room at the University of Massachusetts, Friday, Aug. 30, 2019. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • A string holds a display of family snapshots above a Boston Bruins flag in the dorm room of Joel Delgado and Cullen O’Reilly at the University of Massachusetts. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • The dorm room desk of Smith College freshman Emma Smith, Friday, Aug. 30, 2019 STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • A poster for Tyler the Creator’s recording “Vote Igor” hangs in the dorm room of Joel Delgado and Cullen O’Reilly, at the University of Massachusetts, Friday, Aug. 30, 2019. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Emma Smith, a Smith College freshman, talks about her dorm room decor. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Smith College freshman Emma Smith holds a jar of erasers she bought at Marshall’s in her dorm room. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Pink lights are strung above the head of Emma Smith’s bed in her dorm room at Smith College. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Gordon Powers describes travel postcards in his dorm room at Amherst College. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • A 60-inch television is the focal point in the dorm room of Joel Delgado, left, and Cullen O’Reilly at the University of Massachusetts. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Gordon Powers holds a picture of the family dog that was a gift from a friend in his dorm room at Amherst College. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Pictures made by a friend hang in the dorm room of Alexis Anderson at Amherst College. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Succulents adorn a shelf in the dorm room of Alexis Anderson at Amherst College, Friday, Aug. 30, 2019. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • A marquee light box glows in the dorm room of Alexis Anderson at Amherst College. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Gifts and travel souvenirs on a shelf in the room of Gordon Powers at Amherst College. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Items are neatly arranged in the dorm room of Daniela Gonzalez at Amherst College. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Lights bought at Primark decorate the dorm room of Daniela Gonzalez at Amherst College, Friday, Aug. 30, 2019. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • A rug bought at Target and a ottoman with storage from Bed Bath & Beyond decorate the dorm room of Alexis Anderson at Amherst College, Friday, Aug. 30, 2019. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Photographs and lights decorate the dorm room of Daniela Gonzalez at Amherst College. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Daniela Gonzalez, left, and Alexis Anderson talk about the decor in their dorm room at Amherst College. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

For the Gazette
Published: 9/3/2019 3:42:05 PM

As fall approaches, the air gets crisper, leaves fall from their trees and pumpkin spice seasons lattes across the Valley. Another change is happening inside colleges, too, as students string up lights, put down carpets, position succulents on windowsills and try to make their dorm a home away from home.

“I would say I’m going for a pastel vibe,” said Emma Smith, a Springfield native and first-year at Smith College, standing in her dorm room. A floral bedspread from Urban Outfitters, fluffy, dusty-rose pillows and pink fairy lights produced a soft blush in the corner of her room, which has a whimsical touch. On her bed rested a pillow with an illustrated sloth print, not far from a unicorn mug on her desk and a jar of erasers shaped like macarons beside her whiteboard. The only item in her room that seemed slightly out of place was a small black clock.

“I’d say I bought, like, 90 percent of the stuff for my dorm,” Smith said. “Mainly from Urban Outfitters, TJ Maxx and Target, but I also got some of my posters from Society6, Faces and from my trip to the Van Gogh Museum. I got a lot of inspiration online, just looking at dorm decoration inspiration.”

While Smith decorated her dorm room to match her aesthetic, other students just focused on making their dorm as comfortable as possible. Joel Delgado and Cullen O’Reilly, freshman roommates at the University of Massachusetts who have been best friends since the third grade, mostly brought things from home. 

“Our room is fire!” O’Reilly said.

Inside, O’Reilly and Delgado, who had moved in that day, stacked their beds over their desks for more space. Under a 60-inch TV, white bins full of toiletries flanked a fridge atop a microwave, both of which they rented from UMass. On one side of the room was a pink poster featuring the face of Tyler, the Creator’s and the words “VOTE IGOR,” a reference to the rapper’s recent album. On the other side were a string of clothespins displaying snapshots of their friends, their high school graduation and their two dogs. Nearby hung a Boston Bruins flag, and on the windowsill was a bonsai that O’Reilly’s girlfriend had gotten him.

“Oh, and check this out!” Delgado said. He flipped a switch, and LED lights turned on over the TV, flashing different colors.

They didn’t buy much, the roommates said, besides their sheets from Bed Bath & Beyond.

“We just want it to be homey, comfortable,” O’Reilly said. “We wanted it to remind us of home.”

Amherst College freshman Gordon Powers, on the other hand, decorated his dorm with all his travels in mind. On the wall next to his bed, surrounding a world map, were postcards from his trips to Italy, Spain and Greece. On his desk were other trinkets from his travels, including a miniature Grecian urn, and not yet displayed was a small graphic of his dog done, as he put it, “Andy Warhol-style,” with four panels showing his pet in bright colors.

“I guess I don’t really have a style,” Powers said. “I just want to decorate my space the way I want to.”

Next door, roommates Alexis Anderson and Daniela Gonzalez also talked about their room decorations. On Anderson’s side, the one closest to the door, pink-and-gold paintings made by a friend hung over the head of her bed, where a pile of white pillows glinting with gold detailing swallowed up a third of the space. Next to the bed, a white ottoman for storage sat atop a pink shag rug. On top of the drawers, next to a pale-pink mirror, a small black-and-white sign, a high school graduation gift, glowed with the words “WELCOME AMHERST.”

Like Smith, Anderson, a freshman, said that she got most of her stuff from TJ Maxx and Target, along with Anthropologie.

“Basically, I was trying to go for a gold color scheme, and I designed the room from there,” Anderson said.

Gonzalez, also a freshman, said that, so far, she had a more minimalist approach in mind. Her comforter was a neutral tone. A string of lights and small photos zigzagged down to the head of her bed, and she strung up more photos beside a light next to her bed. At her desk, a light-yellow Polaroid camera sat next to a miniature license plate with her name under the word “Argentina,” where she was born.

Although the two roommates approached decorating their rooms differently, they agreed that their individual aesthetics worked together.

“I’d say my side is bright, fluffy, busy,” said Anderson with a laugh.

“And I think, for now, my side is just more efficient, I guess?” Gonzalez said. “But if you look at our room, our styles kind of match. Our room is definitely cohesive.” 




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