Personal Mementos Double as Decor in This Harvard Senior’s Dorm Room
Who said having a personalized dorm room meant spending a ton of money on decor? Harvard senior Sofia Andrade has stuck with the dorm staples she bought when she first went off to college — and instead of buying new decor pieces to update her space every year, she adorns her walls and shelves with photos, souvenirs, and other mementos she’s collected over time.
How did you end up in this dorm room? I was assigned to my dorm building (we call them houses) by my school, but I got to choose the room I wanted to live in. I chose the biggest room available where I could have a single and share a bathroom with only one other person.
What’s your space best known for? I think my decor style is pretty personal and I really let my own interests, obsessions, and nostalgia influence how I decorate my walls and other parts of my room. I think that really shows and is always what friends comment on when they visit.
Also, I love that my space has room for “living,” despite being just a single. I love hosting people there — my friends and I will spend long nights doing homework on my bed or talking on the couch for hours.
Define your personal decor style: I wouldn’t say I conform to any one specific style or aesthetic. I let my decor and space-building be driven by my impulses and obsessions at a given time. I collect random things that hold meaning to me, or once did, and cover my walls and shelves with them. I would say I’m more maximalist than minimalist, and my space is very personal for me.
What’s your favorite element in your space? I love the way I’ve curated my decor by including whatever my heart desires in my decorating. Posters, family photos, old ticket stubs, metro passes, setlists, travel souvenirs, and more line the two longest walls of my room, helping to bring a personal touch to my space that I just adore.
Favorite product hack? My proudest product hack is putting my cheap, short IKEA nightstand on bed risers with an electric outlet included in them in order to lift it to the height of my bed and have an easily accessible place to charge my phone and other electronics.
In an effort to remove the stigma associated with talking about money in college, we’re asking students to share how they plan and budget for their space.
How much does your housing cost per semester? $6,212.
Does anyone help fund your housing? Harvard provides me with generous financial aid.
How much did it cost to decorate your space? About $300 in initial costs (bedding, laundry essentials, bathroom essentials, and the like) during my freshman year. After those initial purchases, I’ve decorated with virtually no budget, but that challenge works to inspire more creativity in how I approach my space and where I source decor from. The answer: anywhere and everywhere! The last big purchase I made was my couch, which was not an ordinary purchase for me, but I bought it secondhand, which really helped offset the cost.
What was your biggest decor splurge? My Pottery Barn Teen duvet cover and sham set, which cost around $80 to $100 when I bought it four years ago.
Best budget find? My aforementioned couch! It’s great quality and I found it secondhand for $170 through a local furniture exchange.
What was your biggest challenge in designing your space? I don’t get a lot of light in my room because the windows are only on one side and the room is very long. That meant I had to get creative with more lighting sources (string lights, my university-provided lamp, and open windows).
Any other advice you’d like to share: I use storage under my bed (hidden under a bed skirt) to help me store things without disturbing the flow of the room. I also have lots of smaller boxes to put cleaning supplies, medicine, my steamer, and other random supplies in.
This submission’s responses were edited for length and clarity.
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