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Simple Details Improve Lackluster Rooms

But despite the size, there's no reason your room has to be ugly too.

Why not spruce it up a bit?

Libby Jeter and Zoe Manickam have done just this. By adding personal touches and flair to their Alderman Residence Hall room, the UNC sophomores have made their living conditions unique.

"Our main focus was making it feel homey, like we're in an apartment," Jeter said. "Everything's kind of sectioned off."

In order to fully utilize the space they have, Jeter stressed the importance of using existing furniture. "Definitely if you want to get the most space out of your room, you've got to bunk your beds," Jeter said. "The furniture that was in here you just kind of have to deal with."

To save more room, the women also try to use things they need for dual purposes, like the refrigerators as tables and book shelves for both books and dishes.

Jeter said the room did not cost much to furnish and decorate. "Most of it was free," Jeter said, referring to their posters and other decorations.

Jeter said the American Way thrift shop in Raleigh, sponsored by Vietnam veterans, is one inexpensive place to shop.

The two women have an off-white couch and an orange chair and Ottoman in their room. The furniture is second-hand, and the women cleaned it themselves -- Jeter even sponged leaf patterns onto the chair and Ottoman.

Their walls are almost fully covered, too. "Think Different" posters, old calendars, paint square patterns, playing card designs, a license plate, a collection of postcards, collages and educational place mats from Wal-Mart are just some of the decorations. "I like bright colors and like to surround myself with meaningful people like family and friends," Jeter said.

Another creative feature of their room is the lighting. The women do not use the florescent overhead light. Instead they have can-lights, lanterns in strings and singles, tube lighting winding around the bed and Christmas lights.

Jeter said Wal-Mart's after-Christmas sales were a good place to purchase Christmas lights.

Perhaps the most interesting display in the room are the ripped jeans suspended over the closets. The jeans have green Christmas lights running through them. "We knew we wanted to put up the pants because they're funny," Jeter said.

Most things in their room come from interesting places, like a foreign country or a 1960s and 1970s museum. For example, the sarongs that surround the lower bunk in tapestry style are souvenirs from different countries.

Their room is also home to plants and a fish named Altoid.

One thing that may be less under your control also adds to a livable room. "I think the best dynamic for having a good room is having a good roommate," Manickam said.

For those students who may be more limited in space, Yvonne Ing, an interior designer from Kalliskoti in Chapel Hill has some suggestions.

Ing said color choice and coordination can make a room appear bigger. "First of all, you want to stick with light colors and try to stick with one color instead of fragmenting," she said. "Try to coordinate everything so it matches more; that tends to make your room look bigger."

Ing also suggests studying the floor plan and using furniture efficiently in order to conserve space. "The most important (aspect) is probably the way you have furniture," Ing said. "It's a lot of trying to think through what you need and how to use the space."

Ing said to try to use units, especially over-desk storage and to try to use all of your walls.

She suggested that stores like Wal-Mart, Roses, Home Depot, Staples and Lowe's were good places to make these purchases.

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Jeter said there is one big goal in decorating a room.

"I guess the main important thing is making the room comfortable for us."

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