Decking out your res room

How to turn your dorm into home, sweet home

The books, the courses, the friends—they all become relative when you’re trying to figure out what you’re moving into your first time living away from home. With relatively little information provided about any residence building, frosh every year have to jump in with both feet and hope all goes well. Here are a few tips however, that may cushion the fall:

• One of the things students are most insistent about having, because the classic movie dorm always has one, is a bar fridge. Of course, the Queen’s residence experience is no exception.

Mini-fridges can be rented on campus or brought from home. Advice: don’t rent; often the fridges are dirty or in bad condition, and you will pay the same to buy your own. Also, don’t go for the big kahuna--your dreams will definitely be bigger than your dorm room. Your fridge should be less than two feet square.

• A main centerpiece for any dorm room will be your bedspread, considering that the bed will take up most of your space. Get one that’s fun and colourful to make it the focus of your new zone. You can buy them at S&R or Futon Frame Outlet, both on Princess Street.

• Most rooms will come with an overhead and desk light, neither of which is conducive to a homey atmosphere. Although you may want to wait until you see for yourself, most rooms won’t have the floor space for a floor lamp. Go for hanging light strings—otherwise known as Christmas lights—they’re the trendy choice, moderately priced and they can be found in a variety of shapes such as paper lanterns, flowers or even jalapeño peppers. You can find them at dollars stores, S&R, Canadian Tire or Modern Primitive.

• If you have a comfy chair at home, bringing it with you isn’t such a bad idea. The chair you’ll find in your room will most likely be from the Stone Age and of the hard wood, hard seat variety. Wheeled chairs also prove useful during wheely-chair races in the halls, or when you might just be too lazy to walk. Try Staples for a standard office chair or Vandervoort’s Hardware for something more unusual.

• As tempting as row after row of framed photographs might be, remember to leave at least one shelf free for textbooks. They add up quickly, and without adequate space for them you will be constantly reorganizing throughout the year.

• In the words of one former dorm-mate and current housemate, “get bed risers, so you can fit shit under your bed.” They actually do give you more much-needed storage space.You should be able to find them at Canadian Tire.

• Depending on ability and inclination, a fun and cheap way to add colour and sass to your otherwise bland room is with window markers. Change designs on a seasonal basis (hello, snowflakes!) or write silly notes to your roommate. You can buy them at Wallack’s Art Supplies on Princess Street.

• Pictures from home will make a lonely space homier, and remind you to phone your mom at the very same time. Put them on your shelves, keeping in mind tip number five, put them on your wall with sticky tack or hang them in mobiles from your ceiling.

• Last, but perhaps most importantly, hang posters around your new room to conceal ugly concrete. Don’t have any yet? Don’t worry: there’s a poster sale on campus during the first few weeks of school where you can score prints ranging from the comical to the political to the downright gorgeous wall art. If you want to make posters from your own photos, the Publishing & Copy Centre in the Lower Ceilidh of the JDUC can make it happen.

Thousands have survived the austere residence life before you, so don’t sweat the big move too much. That being said, a little bit of décor and a splash of colour can make the adjustment all the easier.

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.