Creating a Sharable Space in the Dorm Room

The transition from home to college can be a traumatic one.  Sharing a dorm room with a stranger can be one of the most challenging aspects of dorm life.  By working together and following some simple boundaries, creating a sharable space in a dorm room can be an enjoyable and simple task.

The Basics

Basics, like bed linens and towels, are usually never shared.  Each roommate is responsible for bringing their own.  However, if there is a desire to create a color coordinated room, checking with each other before arrival on the college campus is a good thing.  Most universities send out a list of roommates toward the middle of the summer.  Use that time before move-in to talk about any basic item concerns.  If color coordination is desired choose a common color that is easy to find and accessorize with.  For example, if the common color is blue, decide who will purchase a blue curtain for the window or blue carpeting for the floor.  Roommates can express their own style, but the common color will help pull the room together into a sharable space.

Multi-Media and Appliances

Most college roommates will come equipped with their own laptops and printers, but there is the option of sharing electronic essentials such as televisions, DVD players and dorm size refrigerators.  If there is an amicable relationship between the roommates, a discussion can occur beforehand to decide who will bring what.  Usually, one roommate will bring the television and DVD player while the other will provide the refrigerator or other small, allowable, kitchen appliances.

Dividing the Room

After the decorating and appliance issues have been worked out, it is a good idea to think about how the room will be divided.  Most dorm rooms are notoriously devoid of personality and charm.  Cinder block walls and hard tile flooring is the norm.  Roommates who know each other before moving in together have the advantage of being able to discuss personal and study area needs.  Do not neglect this conversation.  By being upfront at the beginning, it will be much easier to maintain a healthy, friendly relationship.  

When considering how to divide the room, realize that most colleges do not allow things to be hung from dorm room ceilings.  There are fire safety regulations that they must adhere to, and hanging ceiling items are one of them.  For physical division of the room try folding room dividers that can be placed around a desk area.  This creates a private study spot and affords both roommates some privacy.  Other options for the physical division of the room include a curtain, hung on a clothesline in the room, to divide the space.  This may seem extreme, but for some roommates, creating a sharable space involves a great deal of privacy.

The key to creating a sharable space in the dorm room is about communication, decor and privacy.  Respecting each other's space and property will do wonders for building a lifelong friendship.  Experiment with color coordination, decide who will bring what and examine whether a physical division of the room is necessary early on in the roommate relationship.

With signature design style, Jessica Ackerman, an online writer with, describes bold approaches to wine and grape decor and tropical wall art.