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White Dorm Walls

Updated on September 3, 2012


The art of decoration. What is it about the human psyche that draws us to particular colors, shapes, designs, arrangements? What is it about the subject matter of a painting, or the style of a drawing, or the form of a sculpture that turns our minds on and makes us happy?

What is it about empty space that makes us feel so hollow inside, like we’re drowning in plainness?

All of these thoughts whir through my mind as I stare at the empty white walls of my dorm room. I’ve tried adding posters and drawings and even a calendar to detract from that insane-asylum-white, but somehow it still invades my head. I still feel like I’m living in an institution of some sort.

Why can’t we paint the walls a livelier color? What’s wrong with, say, sky blue? Is there a rule somewhere in a book of rules that says that all university dorm rooms must have nauseating white walls? Is white supposed to be gender neutral, and least offensive to all parties involved? Normally I have nothing against white. But the odd holes in the walls which are not my own, the random divot and imperfection here and there make the white of the walls seem so much more garish in comparison to clean, shining, perfect white.

I would even prefer beige. At least beige has some substance to it. And I know they say that when you spin a color wheel really fast, the color you really see is white, that white light is actually all of the colors of the spectrum bouncing back at you.

But when I look at white, I don’t see any of those colors. I don’t see a rainbow, I see white.

In this case, ugly white.

I think it would be different if the walls were sky blue, or light lavender, or even a light red. Although honestly, I don’t know why. There’s nothing particular about the color white that makes it more garish with all its imperfections than blue or purple or red would be with their own imperfections. The only thing I can think of is that white is the standard color of hospitals, insane asylums, and other such institutions. It therefore has this negative connotation in our brains that associates the white walls of a university dorm room with the white padding of a cell, or the white walls of a hospital waiting room. It gives us this feeling like, “I am perpetually confined,” or “I am perpetually awaiting something.”

But I’m not. I’m living here. And I don’t want to feel like I’m constantly confined or waiting in what has now become my makeshift bedroom.

All I can say is, spice it up! The human psyche likes color. I don’t know why. It just does.

And I feel like I’m suffocating here.


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