Dorms Declassified: Making your Room a Home


My dorm this year in Sears House. (Sorry for the small mess!!!)

Hello! My name is Alejandra (Ali) Gatas Johnson and I am your Dorms Declassified: Brown Survival Guide blogger. Living in a dorm with a roommate was one of the things that I was most excited but also nervous about for college. This blog is to help ease the concern and provide insight on residential life at Brown.

As a sophomore, I have now lived in two different dorm rooms (East Andrews Hall and Sears) and been a guest to many dorms. While every dorm is different and the rooms are definitely not the same, dorms are dorms. There is a door. There is a wardrobe. Then a twin bed. Then a desk. On the wall facing the door is a window. And that was it, except for the same arrangement on the other wall, a mirror image of that first layout, which is the roommate’s side. Dorms are blank canvases for students to paint however they please. I love seeing what everyone transforms their dorm room into, so I decided to post mine this year!

Most dorm rooms have a wardrobe or a closet. Both last year and this year, I have had (almost) walk-in closets. College dorms are always portrayed as being dinky, little rooms with no storage. While this is true for some of the Brown dorms, it isn’t true in my experience. IMG_4358.jpg

My sophomore closet (Sears House). The closet is surprisingly tall and deep. 






Beyond closets and wardrobes, there should also be a dresser and a bookcase or built-in bookshelves. Last year in Andrews, I had bookshelves and this year a bookcase. Andrews Hall, a freshman dorm, also has a sink in every room (They are glorious!).


Pictures from my room in Andrews Hall freshman year.

Coming into an impersonal, standard room and expecting it to be your home for the next year can be disheartening. The key to making your room a home is to make it yours. Don’t try to emulate another person’s style. Make the room your own! Don’t be afraid to add decor and personal touches!

When you first walk into your new room you see the bare furniture and all of your belongings that you brought from home or bought in Providence. It can be tempting to put off setting up your room at the beginning of the year when it seems like so much is going on, but it only gets busier. Take the time to set up your room, making it organized and clean so at least you know it can be.

I chose to loft my bed to create more space and make the room seem even bigger. Others choose not to. All of Brown’s beds are loft-able and the height can be adjusted to whatever you want. I bought some easy to set up and break down dressers to put under the bed in addition to my dresser and I stuck my broken down boxes and suitcases behind the dressers. 

As for decor, I recommend bringing some things from home, to make the room more comfortable and familiar. I would also recommend printing out some pictures of home and loved ones, so that when you feel homesick you can look at them and feel comforted in some way.

This year I also put up lights and got a lamp to add softer light to the room. The lights in Sears are extremely bright and fluorescent. I also invested in a $15 chair from Walmart.

There is a surprisingly large amount of wall space in dorm rooms. As such, there is plenty of space to play around with and add pictures, tapestries, calendars, posters, bulletin boards, flags, or whatever else you can dream up. Below are some pictures of how I decorated my room this year.


The big take-away is that dorm rooms are standard and it is up to you to make your room your own. Personalize it. Everyone’s budget is different, but I promise, whatever the budget, it is possible to decorate your room and make it a home.

If you have comments or questions about this column or anything related to Brown, please email me at


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