Dorm Tours

Here’s How This RA Keeps Her Room Minimal and Tidy Without It Feeling Empty

published Aug 29, 2023
Home Type
House (on-campus)
University of South Florida
Tampa, Florida
Square feet
Sq ft
White-painted cinder block dorm room with an elevated bed and green decorative pillows
Credit: Camille Penick

As an RA at the University of South Florida, marketing major Camille Penick got the chance to live solo in a double room. Here’s how she made the most of her extra space.

All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.

Credit: Camille Penick
Gold Double-Wide Arch Mirror, $349, at Pottery Barn Teen (gifted); Breville Bambino Espresso Machine, $349.95, at Williams Sonoma (gifted); TV at Best Buy; mini fridge at Target

Camille’s Space

How did you end up with this room? Because I’m an RA, I was randomly assigned a living space at my school. I was a little nervous to get a random room, but was pleasantly surprised when I found out I’d be living in an on-campus house. 

What was your first impression of your space? The room was huge! It’s a lot bigger than my old space, which was a pleasant surprise. 

What’s your room best known for? My space is known for its clean and entertaining atmosphere. I always try to keep my room tidy for visitors so it feels more welcoming. Keeping my space clean also helps me get less distracted when it comes to doing work in my room, as I can’t do work unless it’s spotless! Also, I recently got a futon so my friends have a comfortable place to sit while we hang out.

Credit: Camille Penick
Threshold™ Essex Double Storage Ottoman, $85, at Target; Amelia TENCEL™ Quilt, $189, at Pottery Barn Teen (gifted); Flower Velvet Pillow, $49.50, at Pottery Barn Teen (gifted); Mongolian Fur Pillow Cover and Insert, $79, at Pottery Barn Teen (gifted); Ruched Chenille Pillow, $29.99, at Pottery Barn Teen (gifted); faux greenery at Amazon; fairy lights at Amazon; cube shelves at Target

Camille’s Style

Define your personal home style: I can never tie myself down to one theme. I tend to mix it up and switch up my theme every once in a while, but two styles have been constant, so I consider my style a combination of minimalist and bohemian. I love the clean and simple look, but also appreciate a mix of patterns and colors.

What’s your favorite element of your room? My favorite element would have to be the marble contact paper I added to my desk and dressers. I wanted to give my room a newer, apartment-like feel without replacing all of the furniture in the room. This paper was a great and inexpensive way to elevate my room — it not only brightens up the room, but also gives it a more modern look. The best thing about the paper is that it’s super easy to apply and remove once I’m ready to move out.

What’s your favorite project you’ve worked on in this space? One of the best-known and most-admired parts of my room is the arrangement of fairy lights and leaves above my bed. I was trying to find a way to fill space on my walls beyond just putting up posters. It was under $20 combined (about $8 for the leaves and $11 for the lights), and it completely elevated the way the room looks by adding a little bit of bohemian flair. It only took about 20 minutes to set up.

Credit: Camille Penick
Oversized Floor Mirror, $369, at Pottery Barn Teen (gifted)

Camille’s Budget

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? My housing is actually free because I’m a resident assistant.

How much did it cost to decorate your room? About $1,000, not including the products that were gifted to me. Because this is my third year in college, I’ve accumulated most of my stuff over time and didn’t have to buy a lot all at once.

Do you have any help with your decor expenses? I recently got into social media marketing and found a way to turn this passion into a part-time career while also going to school. Thanks to this side hustle, a lot of my items — including my futon, mirrors, and bedding — were gifted from Pottery Barn. 

What was your best budget find for this space? My mini fridge. I bought it when I was moving into my space last year, and it was on sale for around $150.

Credit: Camille Penick
Futon at Pottery Barn Teen (gifted)

Camille’s Advice

What was your biggest challenge in this space and how did you overcome it? The biggest challenge was arranging and placing the furniture. I wanted to make the room feel roomy, but not empty. Because I’m an RA, I was placed in a room with two sets of furniture — the second of which I took apart and tucked away under my bed! I originally wanted to use both beds to make a double bed, but after a ton of deliberation I decided to only keep one in order to maintain a traditional dorm-room feel.

I was also worried about the natural light in the room. The window was a lot smaller than the one in my old room, so it’s a little bit darker than I’d like. I couldn’t help but compare my new room to my old one and started to miss it. Once I started making my new room my own, though, I definitely felt more attached to it. 

How do you keep your room so clean? Always keeping a duster on hand! These small spaces get incredibly dusty over short periods of time, and I find myself dusting every couple of days. I was sneezing a ton until I realized I needed to dust a lot more often than I did back at home. Another cleaning hack is getting a cheap vacuum cleaner. When it comes to keeping my room organized, I tuck away the items I only use every once in a while under my bed.

This submission’s responses were edited for length and clarity.

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Camille Penick

Marketing and Entrepreneurship

Camille is a 20-year-old, full-time college student and a part-time content creator. Ever since the beginning of college, she has had a passion for social media marketing and video/photography content creation. Camille even owns her own business for marketing.

Follow Camille
SchoolUniversity of South Florida '24
MajorMarketing and Entrepreneurship
FavesVolleyball, painting, cooking, sushi
Get to know Camille Penick
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