After Sherry revealed her deep, dark design secrets last week (i.e. cringeworthy photos of her childhood and college bedrooms), I figured it was only fair that I cough up some of mine. I tried digging up pictures of my childhood bedroom (think royal blue carpet that served as the “ocean” to my Lego islands) and my high school bedroom (color scheme = gray on gray on gray) but had little luck.
But I couldn’t dodge the reveal-my-past bullet when it came to college. In fact, when you see how diligently I documented my dorm rooms, it’s like I practically fired that bullet at myself point blank. As you can see below, I not only photographed my freshman dorm room – I COLLAGED it into some weird makeshift panorama art piece (click to see it larger on Flickr).
This is the corner of a room I shared with a roommate (for all those UVA folks out there: I lived in Dunglison, and yes, I know I should’ve said “first year” instead of “freshman” earlier but I’m translating for non UVAers). Some items to highlight (besides that oh-so-teenage obsession with taping pictures everywhere):
- You can see my favorite high school color (gray) followed me to college
- My interesting choice in music posters: Third Eye Blind, Dave Matthews Band and… Lauren Hill (one of these things is not like the other)
- Above Lauren Hill, the license plate from my recently-deceased first car (a Dodge caravan with wood paneling). I still have this license plate in case Sherry ever wants to break it out again for some amazing home decor project (to this she replied: not likely).
- Dorm room staples: string lights and a lava lamp (ladies love them… don’t they?).
- Not one, not two, but three page-a-day calendars (clearly I had a problem)
- And perhaps the first indication that I would become fond of hidden storage & repurposing: my silver trunk-turned-nightstand.
But as if one weird photo collage wasn’t enough to document my undergraduate design sense, I apparently repeated this collaging process to forever memorialize my senior year apartment as well. Only by this time I had upgraded to a digital camera so I assembled this visual masterpiece/mindfreak in Photoshop, meaning you get to a complete 360 view of the room. I know, I’m fancy.
Oh and again you can click to enlarge it. This apartment was in an old house which had been made college-kid-ready by basically designating any room with a door as a bedroom (except for the bathrooms, of course). So there were 10 of us living under one roof, each with our own room. It was, in a word, awesome. My room was the former mudroom so it very long and narrow, plus it featured exhaust hookups for a washer/dryer and a door directly to the outside world (this was a huge perk at the time). You’ll see that my style did not evolve much from my previous dorm room:
- Gray is still the color of choice, now including the “custom” curtains I fashioned out of sheets and pillowcases (not unlike Sherry’s old sleepwear-turned-pillow project… we were meant to be)
- Music posters still rule, though Britney Spears became the new lady of choice (obviously not for her musical talents)
- My trusty license plate continued to qualify as “creative art,” joined also by an NYC subway map, some illustrations torn from playbills and – oddly enough – my previous dorm photo collage (you’d really have to squint to see it).
- My love of hidden storage continued. That bed was the top half of my childhood bunkbed from Ikea so it sat with about 2 feet of storage underneath it (sadly, it later became a victim of my bed bug infestation). I also bought an Ikea bookcase, laid it on its side and used it to house all of my schoolbooks and computer equipment. But my long bedspread covered it so I never had to keep it clean. Perfect for a messy 21-year-old guy.
At most, I would say there were subtle hints (very, very subtle hints) in there that I would someday actually enjoy space planning and design. Maybe my preference for gray led to our love of neutrals? Perhaps my trunk-turned-bedside table indicated the plethora of storage ottomans that would someday fill our abode? Maybe my obsessive documenting of every angle of my room foreshadowed a future in documenting my home for the world to see? Little known fact: I was the one who started this blog to document our house and Sherry was initially less than thrilled at the idea. Funny how things work out, eh?
Oh, and since I manged not to snap any photos of myself in my rooms while wearing airbrushed winking jeans, it’s only fair to share this Flickr group full of some less than flattering photos of me (bonus: you get to see Sherry in all of her previously-blonde glory).
Those sorts of photos, both the rooms and the old personal photos, are hilariously embarrassing for everyone. Meaning, everyone has them — you just have to be comfortable enough to laugh at yourself and just share! So thanks for sharing, John!
Molly Rosedale says
These brought back a ton of memories…I lived in Hancock my first year and then in an apt on Rugby Road. So much fun, thank for sharing.
We understand and we forgive you. =P
The flickr group made me laugh – great way to tell the story!
Loved the Flickr journal. Thanks for showing us all the great old photos guys!
Jess B says
The license plate as wall art was a fan for some of us girls too. I got one as a hand-me-down from my dad and for some inexplicable reason thought it was awesome. It graced my wall for 7 years, until I got a place of my own. Thanks for sharing!
Love it! I had the same DMB posters AND a license plate in my old dorm room at Ohio U. Brings back memories. Fun post.
Dean J says
John, I hope you don’t mind my linking to your entry. I write the UVa blog for prospective and incoming students and thought your pictures would be fun for the Class of 2013 to see. Housing has pictures of student rooms, but I think yours are a little more representative of the average teen’s residence hall room. :)
Colleen in MA says
Britney?? John, I thought I knew you.
LOL… But seriously, I think the biggest clue to your future mad home and nesting skillz is found in the freshman poster of the house with deep roots. Cool poster, and a sentiment I can relate to!
Thanks for sharing!
Tricia - Avolli says
I just stumbled across your blog and must say that I am totally impressed with your work both as it relates to your own home, but also to the business of blogging. Great work!
Your collages are impressive. I remember my college dorm room with pink curtains and a gray rug. I loved decorating it and it received a lot of compliments at the time. My daughter will start college in the fall and it will be fun to see how she choses to create a space for herself and her roommate.
We all have to start somewhere and the fun is in learning and evolving as we grow.
Tricia – Avolli
Actually, here’s something cool you can do with that old license plate from your freshman dorm room: Make a binder to hold photo sleeves, or make a handbag! Really! Here’s a company in my hometown that does both those things: http://shop.littlearth.com/s.nl/it.A/id.283/.f?sc=10&category=4108
I loved your blog but now love it even more since I’m a fellow ‘Hoo(SARC 04)! And I’m so jealous of your old dorms experience; my “suite” in new dorms was anything but sweet. Maupin, then Woody, then life of Rugby Road. You really do learn how to creatively decorate on a budget when in college. :)
Sorry, here’s the photo albums, should have put this link in the previous comment as well: http://shop.littlearth.com/s.nl/sc.10/category.4109/.f
That’s too funny. Gotta love recycling!
Shout out to fellow Maupinites! Last chance to visit Watson and Balz. . . they’re being torn down soon.
I knew this post would bring out some of my fellow Wahoos! Dean J, feel free to link to us anytime. Funny to think that my nearly 10-year old dorm room may still be relevant to incoming students.
And Colleen in MA, I wish I could remember the name of the photographer who made the house with roots poster. He did a lot of cool / trippy stuff and I was obsessed with it in college. But now my old memory fails me…
Thanks to everyone for laughing with me.
Oh oh! I have an idea for your license plate that I’m sure Sherry would be okay with: you could make it into a birdfeeder!
Also, I just redid my graduate living apartment:
Pretty fun :)
Dean J says
My worlds are colliding right now! I blog professionally and am known at UVa as Dean J, but blog (and comment on blogs like this one) under my given name.
Anyway, great to see all the Hoos on here. Come on back and visit some time!
Oh, is the poster by M.C. Escher? Every college seems to have the “poster guy” who sells dorm art at the student union at the beginning of the year. Escher, Dali, and Monet are always big sellers, as are posters of classic rock artists, DMB, Marley, and Che.
Look who’s sexy bedroom made MSN today!!
Wahoo! Thanks for the MSN link Heather. Off to check it out!
I think you’re dorm room was cleaner than Sherry’s!
Things that impress me:
You made your own curtains. I’ve never known a college dude to make his own curtains.
Things that disappoint me:
Thanks for sharing.
I have to say, my favorite part is (besides the DMB poster, which I had 4 of in college, and still do in the closet…just in case) is the Anti-Trust poster! Great movie. Under appreciated.
Agreed, Chad! I’ll conceed that the poster was free – but still, totally underappreciated movie!
Haha! I have always loved Lauren Hill too.
Hooo Ra-Ray, Hoo Ra-Ray, Ray, Ray, UVA!
I can’t believe they’re going to tear down Balz. A piece of me just died. BALZ 99-00!!!
and I remember those Britney posters in John’s room like it was yesterday.
My husband still has the license plate of his first car. We use it ALL THE TIME as the base for our hot glue gun. It needs somewhere to drip, right? And a place for small items to hang out and dry, if they’re small enough to not warrant their own area? I swear, all four of our children could tell you the letters and numbers on that license plate even if they couldn’t tell you HOW they know it. The 4-yr old, when something breaks, shrugs his shoulders and say, “That’s okay, Dad has hot glue and duct tape.” And all is well in his world.
What a great post! Ahhh, memory lane huh?
p.s. I LOVE Sherry’s hair in that luscious brown color super fun shorter bob style!
I think UVA specializes in building some of the most character-free student housing ever (excepting the lawn, but you know, no modern cons.). Imagine my surprise to see that your room was in my old building, Dunglison. No wonder it looked so familiar! Oddly enough, I spent the better part of yesterday towing my mother around Monticello & Charlottesville.
And wasn’t owning a DMB poster or tee a pre-requisite for admission?
Love your blog!
I loved the flickr story, very cute! When I was 17 I covered my entire wall in magazine pages. Good times.
I just escaped the dorms, but I wish I had better pictures of the ones I lived in. The first one (in a suite instead of a hall, like most of my school’s dorms) was in a weeeeird building that had utterly tiny bedrooms and no lock on the bathroom door, but had a den, complete with incredibly uncomfortable waiting-room type furniture. My roommate padded out the den with a mustard-colored rug and teal pillows, and a crapton of free movie posters (including Kung Fu Hustle, One Hour Photo, and some random Van Damme movie because he’s oddly hot). My last three semesters were spent in a single room, with a color scheme based (mostly) on a weird eyeball diagram I got from work (pink, turquoise, and lime green, grounded in black. The comforter was black). Along with a black and white corner centered around a photo of Humphrey Bogart, which I got from the poster dude Freshman year.
And when I look back on the pictures years later…they will look stupid. It’s a rule of the universe, things you wore/decorated with will automatically look dumb ten years later. Like the nice wood bed I painted white and stenciled with purple irises when I was ten.