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The Dartmouth
May 22, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Photo Essay: A Room of One’s Own

One writer visits the prettiest and quirkiest dorms she can find in the second installment of Mirror’s dorm decor series.

cool dorm

Decorating a dorm room is a rite of passage. It often marks the beginning of a new term and another opportunity for students to make a little piece of campus their own. Of course, the College’s housing options are far from perfect. The historic residential buildings may charm visitors from the outside, but they can pose both practical and aesthetic challenges for the modern student. This week, I talked to three students who have made the most out of their campus housing in unexpected ways. From leaning into the old Ivy League aesthetic, to committing way too hard to the bit, these dorm rooms demonstrate the best of students’ creativity. 

“The Greenhouse,” Grace Hillery ’25 — Streeter Hall

Hillery is a studio art major and director of Dartmouth’s Sunrise Movement, and her room shows it.

“A lot of my room is just pieces of my artwork that I was too attached to to throw away,” Hillery said. “It’s a lot of objects I found beauty in and wanted to preserve, because there’s such a culture of waste in which we end up throwing away perfectly good and beautiful items.” 

Hillery’s room is reflective of her passion for sustainability, gardening and art. Rows of repurposed bottles — which she uses to propagate avocado plants — line the window. Wisps of ivy hang from the ceiling and frame posters. Attached to the light fixtures are wooden sculptures made in her studio art class, designed to enhance the space’s lighting and create a cozier atmosphere. Most impressively, all of this decor was thrifted, gifted or self-made.

“I think I made this room for myself as a reflection space,” Hillery said. “Normally if I want to hang out with people, I go somewhere else. So it’s just for me.” 

Personal touches are everywhere — from the hammock strung beneath the bed, to the wall of sentimental items given by friends and coaches. According to Hillery, making use of her spacious single has been an interesting challenge. 

“I’ve always been interested in sustainable living, and I really want to live in a tiny house after college. This is probably the biggest room I’ll ever have,” she said. 

Clearly, she’s made good use of the extra space and managed to create a beautiful private sanctuary hidden away in the middle of campus. 

“The Bax-chelor Pad,” Braydon Baxter ’25 — Lord Hall

“I think this room has a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ that can’t be pinned down with one word,” Baxter told me, as we stared together at the authentic deer head mounted above his mantel. “But if I had to pick one, I’d choose ‘camp.’”

Baxter has chosen to take advantage of the vintage architecture of his Lord Hall triple and lean into a rustic aesthetic centered around the room’s fireplace. The deer head — described by Baxter as having a “mystical” energy — is what really sells it. Some other highlights include a stuffed moose head, a 70s-style wood refrigerator and a framed illustration of redcoats on horseback. 

My personal favorite feature of this room has to be the view overlooking the cemetery. 

“It’s nice to be visited by the spirits every once in a while, especially when I’m lonely,” Baxter said.  

It appears, though, that this doesn’t happen often — a big goal for Baxter was to make his room the ultimate social space. 

“The floor is a great place to construct a Shrek puzzle with friends, and I’ve been known to host the occasional bridal shower,” he said. 

Among his many party games are a dart board, jumbo playing cards and a chessboard — infinite entertainment for any bored student. 

And yet, none of these are the main attraction of Baxter’s room. If you ask anyone that’s come by on a Friday night — or attended one of those infamous bridal showers — they’ll mention one thing: Baxter’s odd collections. 

“I was horribly distraught when I heard Coca Cola was no longer carrying their Honest Tea brand,” Baxter said. “So what I did, of course, was collect them from [Dartmouth Dining] locations using swipes and DBA over the course of multiple weeks.” Now, his two fridges are full of the discontinued beverage. 

But that’s not all — he’s also managed to amass a collection of thirty-three unique mugs that he displays on shelves around the room. They range from a Dartmouth Ethics Institute mug to one saying “Best Grandma in the Whole World.” 

During our interview, I asked how he cultivated such a huge collection. 

“These mugs were ethically sourced from locations on and around campus, and one is a gift from my mother,” he explained. 

I can only describe my experience in Baxter’s room as wonderfully absurd. If you’d also like to experience this room firsthand or play a game of darts, Baxter invites you to reach out. 

“It’s all about community here,” he said. 

“Paolini-Greene Pediatrics, LLC,” Tate Greene ’25 — Undergraduate Society, East Wheelock Street

Imagine: You enter a seemingly normal dorm room, only to find two desks arranged side by side, with someone seated and speaking into a landline. They direct you to take a seat in a plastic folding chair. Maybe you read the stack of magazines on the nearby shelf, or take candy out of the bowl on the desk. The person —  clearly a receptionist — puts down the phone. “The doctor will see you now.” They direct you to go through the curtain at the other end of the room. Where on Earth are you? 

If you guessed Paolini-Greene Pediatrics, LLC, you’d be correct. Located in an undergraduate society house, this unique room setup was designed by roommates Clark Paolini ’25 and Tate Greene ’25. 

According to Greene, it all started with a very simple problem: their room only had one window. Despite being a one room double, former occupants had easily partitioned the room into two using a curtain. However, Paolini and Greene weren’t satisfied with this. 

“Neither of us were willing to force the other one into a windowless room,” Greene explained. “So we moved our beds, both into line with the window, and then just had fun with the other side.” 

But how did the duo decide on a pediatrician’s office as their inspiration? 

“I think it started as, ‘Wouldn’t this be a really funny bit?’” Greene recalled. “We knew that we wouldn’t be in here a ton.” 

And so, they committed. They had Residential Operations install a landline and purchased magazines for the “waiting area” — including issues about Billy Joel, Betty White and Guy Fieri. New guests to the room could expect to be walked through the whole experience. 

Despite the fun of having half a room dedicated to a bit, Greene says that their favorite memories of the space are because of the company. 

“[Paolini and I] make popcorn and watch an episode or two of a show until it’s so bad we can’t watch it anymore,” they said. “Honestly, the best part of the room is having [Paolini] as a roommate.”