From hole to home

The true challenge of turning a tiny dorm room or first apartment into somewhere in which one enjoys spending time, as opposed to a medieval dungeon, is in its decor. Though the greatest, and by far, the easiest way to do this is by draping posters on every inch of the walls, there are other ways.
First off, decide what you can get for free or for exceedingly cheap prices. Any furniture, appliances or other handy dandy items that cost less than $5 are good. Take them and then figure out how these freebies can be incorporated into some sort of style.
There is always the classic, of course- matching wood furniture, beige couch, and the coordinating accessories. Though definitely the easier choice for the decorating beginner, it can be a bit on the pricey side: Matching furniture rarely comes in anything other than a set.
Another alternative that is usually less costly is the minimalist approach: a black couch, a bare table, a glass vase, and vertical blinds. Simple, easy to achieve, but not so easy to maintain. Keeping the knick-knacks out can become quite a challenge as the time passes. Also, it can look cold and unwelcoming
A kitschy choice is the more eclectic style. Nothing matches. There are striped pillows on a plaid couch and a hula girl on the table. This is easily the simpler style to achieve, but it has a massive potential for failure. Decorated by the the right person, the place can look like a trippy love nest from the 1960s or 1970s. Decorated by the wrong person, it can look like Austin Power’s love plane. Beware of your attempts.
Next, decide on a color scheme. All colors have great potential- both to flatter or to ruin a room. As a general rule, besides choosing colors you like, never make them too strong. Painting a room electric blue, then adding a baby blue couch with navy pillows will not be welcoming- it will be an eyesore. Balance colors with their complementing opposites to keep them under control.
Also, keep in mind that warm colors (purple, red, orange, and yellow) give a room a warm, cozy feel. Cool colors like green, blue, white and violet make a room seem more spacious and elegant.
Never forget to be a bargain hunter. Always check with friends to see who’s moving and looking to unload old furniture. Nag your parents to buy a new couch so you can have their old one. Explore attics. And keep your eyes open for things being thrown out that don’t necessarily need to be.
Be on the lookout for garage sales and thrift shops. Don’t be afraid of do-it-yourself furniture- it’s not the best quality, but it’ll last you a couple of years until you can afford the better stuff. Outfit as many things as you can out of $.99 stores. And learn to like knock-offs. A bunch of things from Urban Outfitters can be found at your local Target for a fraction of the price.
Remember, patience and effort can make a home out of a hole. And if all your efforts fail, there’re always posters.

February 1, 2002


The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami

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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly on Thursdays during the regular academic year.