Labor Day might not have come and gone yet, but students are heading back to school in droves, most returning to dingy dormitories or cramped apartments. But where most students come to live with their seemingly inevitably unstylish lodgings, a few take drastic measures to transform their accommodations to their liking. Back in 2009, New York Magazine paid a visit to the Drew University dorm of senior Maximilian Sinsteden, who spent summers interning for the interior designer Charlotte Moss. Sinsteden, a Choate graduate who was named "preppiest in the class," broke all the accepted rules of college dorms, including the one about no painting and that the school-provided furnishings were there to stay. He painted the walls in Ralph Lauren's Tapestry Green, moved the dorm's stock furniture into storage, and fashioned the room into his own little preppy paradise. Where is Sinsteden now? He's a partner in the London-based design firm Olasky & Sinsteden. Click over to New York Magazine for more photos of the tiny den of prep.
? Yale student Tim, who stuck a bit closer to the rules by refraining from a paint job, entered his senior dorm room into Apartment Therapy's Small Space contest back in 2007. The general rule here is simplicity, and the spare look helps keep the 10-foot by 12-foot room from feeling too cramped. The real coup in this case, however, doesn't have anything to do with the visuals, but the process. Tim claims that the project did not require any money and that "the streets of New Haven after Yale move-out" are his favorite resource for furniture.
? In his freshman year, MIT student Zack Anderson built a dorm room around a "MIDAS Automation System 1.0" that was a "mess of wires and random junk found around campus wired together in strange and perhaps somewhat dangerous ways." According to Anderson, the "Housing Safety Department (an actual organization within MIT) shut down the whole operation." That didn't deter him much, as he came back into the dorms the following year and installed this mix of tech and style in his room. Cluttered with computer monitors, the place hardly qualifies for an Arch Digest spread, but Anderson seems to have an eye for design: he restored an Eames lounge chair using spare parts.
? On the opposite coast from MIT, University of California-Berkeley student Derek Low created an even more teched-out pad, one that seems aimed more at impressing fellow students than efficiency. Automated lights, voice-commands, and iPhone controls are all incorporated into the design of B.R.A.D.—the Berkeley Ridiculously Automated Dorm—but you'll have to watch the video to catch a glimpse of what happens when Low presses the Emergency Party Button.
? This last place is not, strictly speaking, a dorm room, but it is, or should we say was, the Providence, R.I. studio of Adam Charlap Hyman, while he was enrolled in the furniture design program at the Rhode Island School of Design. The ceiling has since caved in (cause unknown) and Hyman has moved on to a job in Concept Development at Ralph Lauren, but thie place still serves as a reminder of what is possible in a small space on a student's budget.
· No Sense in Waiting [New York Magazine]
· Olasky & Sinsteden [official site]
· #33 Tim's Overlapping Spheres [Apartment Therapy]
· Dorm Room Fixer-Upper [Zack Anderson]
· Dorm Room [Laboratory @ Home]
· My studio in Providence, Rhode Island [Adam Charlap Hyman]