Xavier Magazine

Extreme Makeover: Dorm Edition

When Ann Hoffman moved into Husman Hall in the early 1970s, she and her roommate transformed their new home into a cozier abode by applying daffodil yellow paint to the walls, buying matching bedspreads and adding a few other domestic touches. Not only did the University let her choose her own colors, but it allowed her to stay in the same room year after year, which meant no need to repaint.


Unfortunately, today is a different story. With more than 1,800 resident students, the office of residence life has to enforce stricter rules to keep the dorms in peak condition. That means no more paint, nails or excessive wall coverings, which translates into a lot of bland, white-walled rooms. And with the rising cost of tuition, books and living expenses, most students don’t have a lot of funds left over to shell out for dorm-room décor.

To help students learn how to stretch those dollars, Xavier magazine enlisted the help of Hoffman, a 1975 graduate and owner of Hoffman & Albers Interiors in nearby Kenwood, and Cathy Tepe, a 1966 Edge-cliff graduate who works as an agenda consultant at Stein Mart in Norwood. With a budget of only $300 each, the women had to find a way to make over two sets of rooms—one male and one female—while adhering to the same rules students have to follow.



Wesley Sloat’s room on the second floor of Kuhlman Hall had the standard-issue wood furniture, two computers, a Playstation 2, a dull blue area rug, dirty laundry and not much else. So, the political science major and his roommate, Corey Maves, volunteered their digs to Tepe. “When I heard there was going to be a professional interior decorator decorating a dorm room, I was all for it,” says Sloat, who agreed to leave while the transformation took place. “In essence, our room could only be improved.”

Tepe met with the roommates ahead of time to get an idea of the space and gather ideas. Afterward, she headed back to Stein Mart to look for items. “I began to see a plan developing, a color scheme of mustard gold and black,” she says. “This was based upon items in our store that had great potential and were also on sale.”

On the day of the makeover, Tepe pulled up to Kuhlman circle in a car packed with sheets, towels, comforter covers, pillows, lamps and rugs. With the help of her friend, Shauna Dammel, a registered nurse who also works at Stein Mart, Tepe hung a large clock with a muted gold face and black trim on the wall using sticky-backed hooks instead of nails. She anchored this with four foam core boards covered in black pin-stripe fabric to form the shape of an X. She then made the beds with new sheets and added some matching “dog pillows.”

“These ‘dog pillows’ were bigger and cheaper than regular pillows and could also be cushions when they sat on the floor and played their video games,” Tepe says.

For a window treatment, Tepe used a heavy fabric shower curtain with the same pattern as the bedding, and hung it with adhesive hooks. She finished the room by covering the blue area rug with grass rugs of different sizes.

The entire process took about three hours. “My first thought was the room looked calm, relaxed, nice colors and really comfortable,” Sloat says. “I was immediately happy with the result and the mood the room set. I wouldn’t want to go back to the way the room used to be.”

However, Sloat wonders if he and Maves can sustain the order for long. “Dorm rooms are so busy and active, they have a hard time sustaining a civilized look,” he says.



Hoffman took a different approach with Manda Radice’s and Hannah Wilson’s room in the basement of Kuhlman Hall. “At home in Texas, I have a tendency to rearrange the furniture in my room at least every three months,” says Radice, a human resources major. “Here, I haven’t been able to do that. The idea of a change was so appealing to me.”

Since the room already exhibited a lot of color—from bedspreads to pillows to picture frames—Hoffman’s goal was to tie everything together. “The girls had already purchased their own bedspreads in unrelated colors,” she says. “My goal was to find a fun, youthful, fabric that incorporated their colors together.”

To stay within her $300 budget, she decided to sew most of the items. “Manda was looking for more seating, more efficient storage, and a way to dress up the windows,” Hoffman says. “I was able to make floor pillows for seating. The deep bed skirts gave a great disguise for under-bed storage and the valances really perked up the windows.” Hoffman pre-measured the room and hung the valances and bed skirts with Velcro strips.

To complete the room, Hoffman added artificial flowers in green glass vases and a couple pieces of art. She also made covers out of a complementary fabric for their desk chairs. Furthermore, Michelle Spaeth, a 1989 Xavier graduate and professional faux painter who often works with Hoffman, created pastel wall panels out of foam core and tissue paper that could double as message boards.

“I loved the colors in the room,” Radice says. “The things on the walls and the artwork completely brightened everything up. I would not have done anything differently. Ann did a great job.”

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