If you live in a dorm, there’s only so much space you have to work with.
That’s because you have to share it with someone else.
But on that rare occasion, you can become friends in the process and enjoy the dorming experience despite the cramped corners.
That’s the decorating credo and the story behind the walls of the dorm room of Heather Danishanko and Rachel Vecellio, both sophomores at King’s College and residents of Esseff Hall.
Enter the tiny fifth floor room of the dorm and you immediately see that space isn’t the issue, it’s the lack of it.
As soon as you walk into the room, you’re greeted by furniture and personal items times two. There are two dressers, two open closets, two desks and two beds.
“It can get claustrophobic,” Danishanko admits.
It’s all the same layout, but each set of roommates makes the room different and more personal since this is home for the school year.
That’s why on Danishanko’s side of the room, there are cutouts of penguins in sunflowers and stars hanging on the wall while across the way, wolves with stars and trees accentuate Vecellio’s space. Danishanko cut out the animal images — penguins are her favorite and wolves, Vecellio’s — from scrapbook paper over the summer.
The girls brought just enough essentials — like sweatshirts and snacks — as well as comforting non-essentials such as knickknacks and posters to make it feel like home to them without encroaching on the other’s space or sensibilities.
Danishanko, who is majoring in English, Spanish and secondary education, is from Quakerstown, Pennsylvania. She has relatives who reside locally, including her grandparents Albert and Joan Danishanko of Wilkes-Barre.
A theater major, Vecellio is from Carlstadt, New Jersey.
You don’t have to worry about Felix and Oscar neat freak vs. slob issues nor do you have to fear catfights.
“She’s the yin to my yang,” is how Vecellio describes her relationship with Danishanko. “We complement each other,” Danishanko said, noting that her personality is more reserved while her roommate is more outgoing.
The girls entered college last year not knowing each other, but ended up becoming fast friends thanks to issues with their other roommates during freshman year, something they term a “happy accident.”
Being brief acquintances and finding themselves without roommates, Danishanko and Vecellio decided to bunk together for the second semester.
What started out as convenience quickly turned into a friendship and partnership so upon leaving campus for the summer, they requested each other as roommates for sophomore year.
And they spent the summer corresponding about what to bring to their new living space this year.
Danishanko moved into the room first, and with help from her boyfriend, she pushed the beds apart since the two girls decided early on that they didn’t like bunk beds. Vecellio got the bed near the window since she is always warm.
One of the most important things they brought this year is a TV set. “If I didn’t have my Bravo, I think I’d die,” said Vecellio, a huge fan of the “Real Housewives” reality series franchise.
Last year, the girls didn’t have a microwave, but Danishanko brought one this year.
And they utilize every inch of space. Underneath Danshanko’s bed is the makeshift pantry, where flatboxes of bottled water are stored along with huge containers of goldfish-shaped cheese crackers. Danishanko also brought a Keurig coffeemaker and a router for Wifi.
Since Vecellio visits home less frequently, she brought more stuff, namely clothes, such as dress outfits for school visits and a heavy wintercoat, or as she says gesturing to the closet area “My whole wardrobe is here.”
Two desks are side by side, but the items on the shelf make it a different workspace for each girl. Photographs of friends and sentimental items from home adorn walls, dresser tops and desk shelves. Several stuffed penguins mark their turf on Danishanko’s desk.
Last year, it took four to five hours for Danishanko to unpack and decorate the room. This year, it only took two.
“I had to rearrange the room,” she said. “You have to make sure that the things you need are within reach and that they are easy to find.”
The girls hung up Christmas lights across the room as it can get dark.
Danishanko got an idea for a homemade hanging collage from Pinterest.“The walls are so boring,” she said. “The cinder blocks make me feel like I’m in prison.”
Sophomore year helped ease some of the missteps from freshmen year. Danishanko brought lamps for the desk last year, but found she didn’t need them. And she nixed bringing back a floor length mirror as there is one already attached on the inside door.
The one thing Vecellio misses is the opportunity to cook, but she tries to get creative with the microwave, whipping up macaroni and cheese and cookie dough in a mug.
If there are ever any personality issues or problems, the pair discuss any potential conflicts during what they term a pillow talk. Since they started as friends, they often spend time together. The girls even schedule a lunch hour on Mondays and Wednesdays.
“It may not be the greatest of living areas, but it’s our’s,” Danishanko said.