Maxwell Ryan stands in the middle of room 127 in Barrows Hall, a dormitory built in 1956 that boasts the boxy charm that’s so common in mid-century brick buildings, surveying the nearly empty 10-by-15 foot space. Its rough cinder block walls are painted a glossy white, the vinyl-tiled floor is an oversized checkerboard of tan and brown, and dark oak built-in closets and desks present what some might kindly describe as an aesthetic challenge.
“Part of what you want to do in a dorm room is cover up the dorm as much as possible,” explains Ryan, a former designer who founded Apartment Therapy , a blog that exploded into a go-to home decor site and media company that today has millions of video views and a social media following exceeding four million.
In his quest to deliver on this counsel and transform the 62-year-old space, Ryan will construct, revise, and re-construct the headboard of the dorm room bed numerous times, first attempting to assemble a canopy using dowels and twine from Watson’s hardware store, and fabric procured from the Ben Franklin store in town. He plays with a number of other configurations, straightening and arranging fabric, re-hanging the structure in a cascade of textiles reminiscent of a shower curtain, until he is satisfied.
Read more about Ryan’s Oberlin dorm room makeover in the fall 2018 issue of the Oberlin Alumni Magazine.
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