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Well Hung

Moving into a dorm room can feel like being thrown in jail: You're surrounded by cold, depressing cinderblock walls and peeling linoleum floors. Luckily, a little decorative imagination can totally transform the feel of your room. "When I lived in a dorm my freshman year, I hung anything colorful I could find to cover up the scary graywhite walls," says Annette Dixon, a senior at The Savannah College of Art & Design. "I had two huge, very colorful Indian tapestries, a few posters, and a collage of postcards on my wall." Posters are the most common dorm room decoration. They can either add character and class, or make your room look like something from "Animal House." Often people give in and buy generic posters that don't express anything personal, like a love for modern art or affinity for basketball. Posters that compare women to beer, or have pictures of little children holding flowers do the job of filling blank space, but they're common and uninspiring. "I try to find the most unusual, uncommon posters I can find, because people enjoy looking at something interesting," says Gillian Yee, a University of Michigan senior. "Concerts usually have cool posters, and used book stores or cool shops are great places to look as well." The Web is a great place to shop for posters the selection is boundless. Sites like art.com and barewalls.com offer a great selection of posters at competitive prices. Consider different kinds of posters too, like those that glow under black light, cool for parties or when you're smoking, uh, cloves. If you want to cover an entire wall, or most of a wall, tapestries and stitched rugs are ideal. They can be bought in any size, with unlimited designs to suit your room's style. Some people hang them on the ceiling, or hang more than one on a wall. "Indian tapestries are a great wall decoration because they are exotic and unique, in addition to being extremely affordable," says Caron Proschan of Udorm.Com. Most school bookstores carry flags, banners, or pennants that you'll probably see in half the rooms on campus, but they're good for behind doors or to cover small areas of wall. Flyers from memorable events at your school are also cool, as are signs or official notices you "borrow" from campus buildings. If you are feeling artistic, photo collages are easy to make and interesting to look at. You can take all of the photos from a spring break trip, or from the semester's parties, and throw them into a box frame. If you have some interesting post cards, space them evenly apart on the wall and you'll have a good conversation piece. You can also use art postcards of a particular artist or style to create a gallery effect. Construction paper cut into strips looks great around windows or door frames, adding color and making the room seem less institutional. Wall clocks are also great for breaking up wall space, being both useful and distinctive. You don't have to hang things all over the place to make your room homey. Try painting walls in different colors to eliminate the institutional feel. "At first I decorated my walls with posters, magazine clippings or postcards," says Columbia University student Anita Patil. "But towards my junior and senior year, I desired a plain wall," she says. Instead of posters, Patil opted to paint her walls in her favorite shades. However you decide to decorate your walls, remember that college is a great opportunity to explore wild and creative ideas. You'll be in the room for less than a year, so it's ok to go a little crazy. If you don't like it, try something new next year. Brock McCormack's room has yellowstriped walls, bright ceramic fish, and an orange psychodelic chair. No kidding.
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