The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

UVM Cribs: Stairway to Heaven

Alec Sugars
A spiral staircase leads to the second floor in a University Heights suite.

Celebrity apartments and houses fill the media, but college dorm interior design is largely overlooked. While the internet raves over Dakota Johnson, her limes and her chic green kitchen, college students perform a feat of interior design every time they turn a temporary space into a sanctuary. 

UVM recently announced a new tiered pricing system according to dorm quality, but dorm room status cannot transform the sterile, white walls into a cozy home. 

Step into the famed spiral staircase suite, found in the University Heights complexes; upon walking into the suite, the room opens up into the traditional University Heights style, with a double sink and large mirror facing the bathroom. 

The design differs in the common area, which features a spiral staircase leading to a second floor and towering ceilings. 

The walls are covered in a variety of posters and mementos from the residents. (Alec Sugars)

Filling up the blank space of the walls was a key element to designing the space, said current resident, sophomore Grayson Doninger. 

The tall, white walls were covered with a variety of posters, pictures and a giant felt beer can which had been another resident, sophomore Jay Thomas’s, Halloween costume. 

“We just tend to find things in places and put them on the wall and it tends to work out,” said sophomore Teddy Hanley.

Despite the randomness of sourcing wall paraphernalia, there is intent behind the residents’ wall decorating methods. 

“We wanted to have some hints of us and our friends, but also where we come from, where we’re going,” Doninger said. 

Mementos of the group’s adventures are peppered around the space, featuring a beheaded guitar and a frog in a sombrero hanging on the spiral staircase. 

A skateboard lamp serves as an alternative to harsh overhead lighting. (Alec Sugars)

Soft, warm-hued light filled the common area. In place of the fluorescent ceiling lights, string lights on the staircase, a lamp by the couch and a skateboard light illuminated the space. 

“It has been a game changer since we got the lamp and the skateboard light because we realized how terrible the overhead lights are…worse ambiance overall,” Hanley said. 

The trio felt they couldn’t classify the general interior design motif of the space. 

“It doesn’t fit into one category,” Hanley said. 

The design style “doesn’t fit into one category,” Hanley said. (Alec Sugars)

The unique aspect of dorm living is the collaboration of people’s individual styles. The interior of the suite functions as a collage of the residents’ past and present life experiences. 

Hosting friends and making the suite inviting guides some of the interior design decisions made by Thomas, Doninger and Hanley. Seating became a main priority for the common area. 

“[The] chairs and the couch and the desk chairs were in the suite,” Thomas said. 

Three camping chairs were lined up against the window ready for guests. It’s a place to bring people in, Doninger said. 

The key aspect of dormitory decoration is the community of it all. Dorm design is not a reflection of a passing interior style trend but of a group of people’s styles, experiences and desires.

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