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Coolest Dorm Rooms

20130924-DSC_9925 copy
20130924-DSC_9925 copy

Since I spent my freshman year in a double the size of a broom closet, it’s fair to say that I am grateful to now be living in a room with adequate oxygen levels. Nonetheless, every now and then we all suffer from pangs of intense room envy – whether it’s lying on the floor of your Whitman friend’s air-conditioned single in 90-degree weather or admiring the view through the windows of a two-story penthouse suite. Here, Street brings you an insider’s peek at Princeton’s prime real estate, so you can figure out who you should be friends with this year. (Writer denies all allegations that she took advantage of writing this article as an opportunity to snoop in other people’s rooms.)

“Best Use of Space”


1939 Hall 120 – Macy Manning ’16

Entering Room 120 is not unlike walking into a department store catalog, so expertly has each and every piece been selected and arranged. Indeed, Macy Manning ’16 did have a bit of professional help – from her mother, who happens to be an interior designer and jumped at the opportunity to help decorate. “We drew from Kate Spade accessories for their simplicity yet elegant touch,” Manning said.

The clear focal point of Manning’s room is her bed, artfully laid out in black and white. In orienting the bed diagonally to face the door rather than squeezing it straight into the corner, Manning created a space that is open, dynamic and inviting. A large black statement mirror rests securely on Manning’s desk, artificially enlarging the room while also drawing visitors in. A long bedskirt hides the storage space below the raised bed, adding to the polished, clean appeal of the room, and whimsical white polka dots on a black curtain allow for the perfect compromise between light and privacy. The strength of this design concept derives from Manning’s decision to work with the room rather than against it. By accepting the room’s size, she was able to use it to her advantage and create an unconventional yet comfortable living space. Though many students might consider a tiny single in ’39 the height of housing misfortune, Manning’s room proves that limited space doesn’t need to detract in the slightest from aesthetics and comfort.

If you want to maximize the space in your room, Manning advises to start from the basics and keep everything unified by color. “Space is usually the toughest thing to work around in a dorm. The first things that we took into account were the locations of the door and windows. Then [we] placed the furniture jutting into the room –rather than all pushed against the walls – to make it more inviting. For colors, we used a black and white base with splashes of pink accents.”

Best Retreat”


Scully 116 – Tiffany Cheung ’15

The first thing you see when you walk into Tiffany Cheung’s room is the window seat.

Airy and bright, the room’s naturally deep windowsill has been converted with cushions and blankets into a small but comfortable nook for lounging and reading. A makeshift canopy of white lace hanging from the ceiling above completes the whimsical space without detracting from the overall openness of the area.

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Scully 116 is more of an apartment than a dorm room. An elegant white reading chair is tucked into a corner. Neutral cushions and a forest green throw add color, and a giant framed Buddha hangs just above. No tongue-in-cheek U-Store posters are to be found in this upperclassman sanctuary; rather, the wall art – all large, bold pieces –has been carefully curated to match the color scheme of the room. A tasteful mahogany end table and matching lamp add to the effect, while a large and colorful Persian rug ties everything together.

Having had roommates in the past, Cheung was excited for an opportunity to finally decorate the space as she envisioned it. She chose a clean, minimalist design with fresh, light colors to amplify the existing brightness of the room. Whites, with a few dashes of neutral shades in the form of pillows and throws, keep the look modern, sleek and cohesive. The overall effect is chic, dreamy and soothing.


“Coolest Concept” – The Greenhouse Room

1927 Hall 134 – Michael Yuan ’15

Michael Yuan ’15 decided to take advantage of the light from his south-facing window by cultivating a veritable garden in his dorm room. Pointing out that Princeton often becomes rather dreary come winter, Yuan hoped to “bring a little bit of life into the room” with his plants. “I had a bunch of seeds at home, so I brought them to Princeton. When I got here, I planted them in the window boxes, not knowing if they would grow or not,” Yuan said.

Yuan’s spacious RCA quarters are now host to a large variety of thriving plants, including tomato, basil, corn and peas. A trellis leaning against the window and a plant growing out of an old shoe suggest that nothing in the room is safe from the sprawl of greenery. In another pot, Yuan has planted a giant pumpkin that could grow to be up to 500 pounds. When asked about his favorites, Yuan comments, “I like my jasmine plant a lot because the flowers hang over my face while I sleep and release a sweet scent. I'm also excited for the giant pumpkin because it could grow really big.”

Is this the start of a new food movement at Princeton? Probably not. Yuan mentions that growing plants indoors can be pretty challenging, especially if they don’t get enough light. He takes them outside every now and then so they can get fresh air and sunlight. “Hopefully by the spring I can get some vegetables from these boxes,” Yuan said, “but I’m only cautiously optimistic.”

“Best Suite”

1927 Hall 132 Maranatha Teferi ’16

With the door opening directly into a narrow hallway, at first this six-person suite does not appear all that different from the other large suites on campus. To the left and right are two spacious doubles, and directly in front, a small common room facing a large window. Further down the hallway are two bathrooms. What catches the eye, however, is the open staircase leading up to the second floor of this bi-level suite. A large, open mezzanine features a dual lounge and study space, complete with comfortable seating and mood lighting. Leading off the mezzanine is a room that puts all other rooms to shame.

With high, vaulted ceilings owing to its luxurious penthouse location, Suite 132 enjoys a sense of unparalleled airiness as well as additional room for personalization. Maranatha Teferi ’16 has chosen an extensive collection of vinyl records to mount to the walls and ceilings. The room also boasts two huge closets, the ceiling height allowing for extra storage space above the hanging area.

Though one might imagine that Teferi and her draw group had the best draw time in the entirety of Wilson College, she states that this is in fact not the case. “Actually, we were somewhere near the middle. It just happens that there aren’t that many six-person draw groups, and we were the second of those.” The takeaway? Putting together a larger draw group may be the key to securing your side of Princeton paradise next year.


“Best Layout”

Buyers 22 – Alex Kasdin ’14 and Cathy Chen ’14

“Best of both worlds” is not a phrase typically associated with dorm living, but it actually applies perfectly to Buyers 22. With a common room on the first floor and two huge singles on the second, it’s enough to make anyone want to be an RCA.

“Having three completely separate spaces means that there isn’t too much external noise. It’s great to get to have my own space, my own bedroom and a roommate,” said Kasdin. Upstairs, her queen-sized bed and walk-in closet make this the biggest understatement of the year. Though the slanted ceilings are somewhat challenging to work around, thoughtful placement of furniture minimizes the amount of wasted space. Sunlight spills generously through two large skylights, so the room remains bright despite the lower ceilings.

Chen’s room has a slightly different configuration, but she too has found an optimal configuration, placing her bed under an alcove and her desk in the center of the room, where the ceiling is highest. A spare closet houses a bucket chair, creating more open floor space in a single that is already bigger than most doubles in the building.

Kasdin and Chen shared the vision for a shabby-chic style but focused on the practicalities when designing the room. “We needed to have a lot of seating to have people in here comfortably,” Chen said. Kasdin added that they found many of their chairs, as well as some of the main decor elements, secondhand and at thrift shops.

One downside to the room? “You can’t hear anyone knocking,” Kasdin said. “If I were living alone, it wouldn’t matter so much, but as RCAs, it’s really important. We ended up having to buy a wireless doorbell.” Surely, a trade-off most of us would be willing to make.