Wednesday, March 7, 2012

How do you decorate a Goth Dorm Room?

I feel as if I allude all too often to my age and education in regular articles, and if you agree with me then you might not want to read this one because it's pretty much all about that. I've recently entered into the third quarter of my senior year. With that comes stress, seniorities, and college application decision letters.

I consider myself lucky in that I am so far two-for-two in my college acceptances. Currently, I am accepted to my safety school Hood College and one of my favorites, Seattle University, with merit scholarships at each. I feel incredibly proud and very lucky to be able to go to these schools, but that also means that I have one thing on my mind: dorms.

Essentially, I now am aware that I will be spending nine months of the coming year packed like sardines in a room with one or two other girls trying to get used to life away from home. If I go to Seattle University (which seems likely) I will also be 2750 miles from home, without much chance of coming back on the fly. I'll be out of my element in more ways than one, but for all that I am still very excited.

I've already started planning some of my dorm room by reading Tumblr blogs such as Fuck Yeah Cool Dorm Rooms for inspiration and trying to translate ideas to fit a more Goth aesthetic. There are a lot of guides on Goth decorating, but many of them seem unfit for Dorm rooms. In my dorm room I will:
  • have plain white walls
  • have plain brown furniture (that I won't be able to move)
  • have limited space
  • not be able to use thumbtacks or nails
  • not be able to hang lots of fabric (fire hazard)
  • have a probably non-Goth roommate who might be intimidating by all the black.
Do you see my limitations here? I know I'm not the only Goth who has had to deal with this, but no other Goths seem to have left any advice that I can find. There have been threads on the forums about how to decorate dorms, but they weren't all that inspiring. So, this will be a regularly revisited topic on this blog. I plan to chart my progress on decorating the room as a reference to other Goths who will someday be in the same boat.

Who among you has lived in a dorm room at some time in your life? Have I missed any guides for this decorating that I should read? Do you have any tips for a soon-to-be college freshman? Thank you!


  1. Could you tape up a poster of a favorite movie, maybe? Or if your bed has a side table thingy, then perhaps you could keep a framed photo. Maybe candles won't be fitting because of fire hazards .. but maybe bring your own sheets or pillow cases? Just some ideas.

    1. Thank you! I'm planning on definitely loading up on posters while I can! :)

  2. What about those "scene setters" they sell in party supply stores, especially around Halloween. They are applied to the wall using removable tacky putty (which is all they allowed us to use, but that was soooo long ago). If you wanted to go less kitschy, more classy, you might find a decorative border to put up this way, or take cutouts from a wallpaper design you like to make a pattern on the wall. You might even use scrapbook papers, or computer printouts of stencil patterns. Rip pages out of an old book of poetry, burn the edges, and tape them in a pattern on the wall/door with dried flowers or black fake ones.

    Take a small, chandelier-like, hanging light fixture, buy a light kit, and make yourself a floor lamp. You can modify and old floor lamp's base or modify a shepherd's hook (found in garden centers)

    Any room for a folding screen? You can decorate it any way you please, and it might provide a little extra privacy from the roommate when you wish. (or just something to hide the dirty laundry behind when there's visitors)

    Any kind of lap that you can veil in sheer, colored cloth can help you set an ambiance and escape the horrid florescent lighting.

    Fog machine. Haha. Just kidding.

    1. Bahaha, I'd get a fog machine if I thought my roommate wouldn't mind. ;)

      The scene setters weren't things I'd really thought about before, but looking at websites like PartyCity I think I'm really starting to like the idea. They've come along way from a few years ago and have a lot of ideas. Maybe if I follow some of those suggestions, I won't have to see any wall at all! :D Thank you very much!

  3. I was just thinking about this last night. My dorm is very not-goth. But I do have a few little isolated areas of gothiness. My windowsill has a vase with black roses, a chalice, and a candle with a bolt of black lace. My bookshelf is covered with figurines and gothy books. I also have a stuffed crow perched on a surface. You can also express your gothiness with your bedding, a rug, posters, and if you're lucky, you might even be able to convince your roommate to install lace curtains.

  4. Also, I use putty and masking tape to hang posters. As long as it doesn't leave a mark on the wall when you remove it, it's usually fine. Also what might be fun would be those flickery tea lights that they sell at craft stores. You could leave them anywhere. Sorry for the double post. I wrote the first one while distracted.

    1. No worries at all! Thanks for commenting! :) I like the tea lights idea and the curtains. Hopefully batty curtains won't be too objectionable, hahaha.

  5. I'm in high school, but I think I understand the problem. I share a bedroom with my little brother, with
    plain cream walls
    plain brown furniture
    plain brown carpet
    no nails/thumbtacks/fabric permitted on walls
    less than a quarter of the closet space
    and my mother isn't really into black

    I like vintage and subtly memento mori pieces, hopefully with a function. I've decorated my half of the dresser with a gorgeous vintage kaleidoscope, a big, elegant musical jewelry box from my grandmother, several vases of dead roses from our garden, and a sheep spine I found in the Mojave and brought home (cleaned, of course). The curtains are big, dark, and jewel green to block out the blazing southern sunlight, so the room stays comfortable.
    I have a rack hanging from already-there hooks in the ceiling, from which I dried the aforementioned roses.
    Recently I bought a bookshelf from Saver's- three of the shelves are filled with books, one shelf with clothes and one with jewelry and headgear.
    My bed has storage drawers underneath too, which hold shoes and undergarments/PJs.

    I don't know if that helps at all, but good luck with your dorm!

    1. Thank you! I actually did find this very helpful. It definitely got me thinking about curtains and dried flowers. We'll see what I can come up with before the fall.

  6. i know that some places allow for you to hang christmas lights/ string lights. I know for a while that I had halloween lights up in my room (skull shaped and flickering lights). and if you can make your bed a loft bed, you could drape fabric from underneath and make a kind of reading nook or something.
    in my college dorm, there are limited places where you can place decorations, like your desk, your dresser, and maybe windowsill. make sure you don't bring too many things, because you don't want it to be crowded.

    1. I think I can find some cheap string lights somewhere, thanks for the suggestion! We have pumpkin shaped ones at my house but I might be able to find bat shaped ones closer to Halloween. I'll try not to overcrowd things, if possible, though it might be hard considering how much of a Maximalist I am!

  7. It's all about how you accent. When I moved in my dorm, I got one of these black rugs, and I got red satin sheets and comforter for my bed. I accented that with black and cream pillows. Find lamps and accessories that fit your tastes. Honestly, you'll have a much nicer room by decorating in that way. Painting walls and hanging up tons of things can be overkill. I also like the one commenters suggestion about the lights.

  8. For posterity... First off, Gothic Charm School has multiple applicable posts. I don't know if a "scene setter" is the same thing, but there are wall clings and window clings that can be very cute. An appropriately spooky jewelry tree would be a useful accent piece. Creepy nightlights and lampshades should be easy to incorporate. (I used to have a black and gold square lampshade) A victorian/romantigoth aesthetic will be easier on a mundane than the harsher substyles and I think there is a lot to be learned from Lolita, dapper, quaintrelle, aristrocrat etc. fashions. Etsy is a great source of Gothy versions of common items. A Victorian styled brush/comb/mirror matched set is an amazing decor piece and completely usable! Do kids use pencil bags, binders, rulers, and such nowadays? All supplies can be Gothy! Get a cool laptop bag, case, stickers, whatevers. I get a lot of mileage out of a small selection of knick knacks and a good shelf of dark books and movies. I have incense matches, which I can't imagine being a fire hazard. How about an old fashioned bed skirt? Needlecraft tools are good both for their intended purpose and as romantigoth setpieces. Borrowing from the lolis, if there is space, a dressform displaying a favored outfit is useful and beautiful. At the most basic; supplies for gothy crafts, black fingernails, and a good soundtrack is all I really need. Ooh, how about switchplate covers? Easy to overlook, but a great place to add detail! In general, I try to think about displaying things I use, or making things I use worthy of display. This thinking is good for both beautifying a space and reducing clutter, as well as cleaning time and the trouble of moving.

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