Decorating 101: Students Open Door to Remodeled Dorm

Van Kampen Hall balcony with four students

Everyone seems to have a favorite lounge. For some it’s the study space at the front of Van Kampen Hall. Others prefer the downstairs game room with a 52-inch plasma TV, pool table and 12-foot championship shuffleboard table. Students tired of dining commons food choose one of the two new kitchens.

The $3.1 million residence hall overhaul has impressed its residents who enjoy the redesigned rooms and common areas. “This is fabulous,” said Michelle Mantyla ’07 as she moved into her new room on the first floor. The VK veteran is in her third year there. She provided expertise and input to campus planners who designed the remodel of the 43-year old building.

Van Kampen Hall Front

“We talked a lot about the closets,”she says. “We wanted to make them three big closets. We used to have a big armoire that was always in the way. This is so much better, so much nicer. It’s a lot more versatile because these dressers are stackable.” Michelle has stacked her drawers to make a dresser while her roommate, Leslie Carroll ’07, has hers in the closet. “You can also put them under your bed,” Michelle says. “There are many more options for you to arrange your room.”

As far as the bathrooms are concerned, Michelle and other students suggested that they be larger with counter tops where students can place their belongings. “The bathrooms are so much nicer,” Michelle says. “Tiles were falling off before.”

In fact, plumbing failures and mold problems made it necessary to tear up the building for repairs. Campus planners seized the opportunity to forge a plan to completely redesign VK with today’s students in mind. Construction began immediately after Commencement and continued until the students returned for the fall semester.

Van Kampen Hall Study Loft

Christina Prejean ’08 is spending the afternoon in the loft of the new study lounge. Modernized with task lighting and floor
outlets for laptop computers, it has become a good refuge for scholars. “I had never studied in here before this year,” she says. “It was just one story,and it didn’t really seem like a study place. It was more like a hangout place. Last night people were here until midnight, really quiet and respectful of each other.”

Michelle says she too has enjoyed the new lounges. “The kitchens are really nice,” she says. “They just feel a lot cleaner. The study lounge is perfect. The planners did a good job of making them themed. They were just general rooms before, and people did whatever they wanted. Now that one of the lounges feels like a study room, I went in there yesterday to read.”

Of all the changes to VK, Christina says it’s the roomier closets she enjoys the most. “For women it’s nicer to have bigger closets so you can bring more clothes,” she says.

Van Kampen Hall Room interior

Construction crews replaced all the windows and added vibrant colors of paint. Michelle says that has helped create a feeling of community at VK. “There’s lots of people hanging out, talking, playing shuffle board, cooking together and playing games,” she says.

Amber Baisz ’07 ran into several friends above the courtyard on their way back from dinner. “The people seem more social,” she says. “I’m meeting a lot more people. The lounges are definitely much more of a place of community. There’s more mingling going on.”

Nick Pope ‘09 was in the upstairs kitchen helping prepare a spinach salad. He says

he was pleasantly surprised by the changes to VK. “I couldn’t believe it,” he says. “It was shock and awe. Everyone’s around a central courtyard,so it’s really easy to meet people.”

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