We recently had an e-mail from a reader who is starting out on their first year of college this year (congratulations!) and who was curious what Kate would do when choosing how to decorate her dorm. With back to school right around the corner, we thought we would share what we think Kate would do when decorating a college dorm – and for those of you not decorating a dorm but your own homes, be sure to check out our Decorating with the Duchess original post!
As many of you will know, Kate attended St. Andrews University in Scotland alongside Prince William. They both lived in St Salvator’s Hall (affectionately known as Sallies) in their first year of residence at the University. The gothic architecture of the spectacular residence is one of the reasons this building is regarded as one of the University’s most prestigious residences.
St. Andrews, as an ancient institution, has a long history of tradition and its decor reflect that. The dining hall for example, has a crimson throne and was decorated with heavy oil paintings of philosophers from the Scottish Enlightenment and beautiful stained-glass windows. As one of the oldest residences, historical architectural elements will have to be things taken into account by students, like Kate, in selecting their decor. What would the then Kate Middleton dorm like like? This leads us to the first rule of Decorating like a Duchess, College Edition…
Accept What You Can’t Change
There are simply things about University dorms you can not change. The beds, the desks or even the wall colour are going to be things that are set upon where you go. As a traditional Hall of Residence, St. Salvators has furnished bedrooms (including single beds) with shared kitchen and bathroom facilities. There are also communal facilities that include a reading room, library, games room with a snooker table and TV projector, common room with a piano, and laundry facilities. We can also all hope that our dorm rooms have windows as spectacular as the ones in the Sallies dorms, as seen below, can’t we?
What Would Kate Do?
We can imagine that Kate, as a lover of tradition and history, would not have made many major amendments to her room. She would have utilized the standard issued bedside table to store her Karin Herzog products (she is reported to have started using them around this time) as well as gotten accustomed to the desk light and chair that were provided because she is not known for having extremely lavish lifestyle choices (look at her choice of often wearing Zara and Reiss versus high-end designers), and in fact the reason William was interested in Kate was her down-to-earth nature. In fact, Vanity Fair revealed that Kate was very “real” and not one of the girls who spent thousands on new wardrobes trying to woo a prince while at St. Andrews.
That being said, Kate would have of course made the best of her situation and worked with what she can’t change, very much like she has learned to do as the Duchess of Cambridge. A standard single bed with – in my University experience, anyway – a standard quality mattress does not equate to a great night of sleep, very important before a big test (or after a big night!). A mattress cover with some added cushioning will make the world of difference, as will good quality bedding. Buy the very best quality you can afford – and a budget-conscious tip? You need only buy one. It will force you to master the skill of doing your laundry and putting it away in a matter of hours than weeks if you have multiple sets.
As a new student to St. Andrews, specifically to Sallies, Kate would have learned that the hall colours were red/maroon and silver – and likely worked with those. Perhaps that means working in maroon sheets to her bedding or picking up some silver frames to showcase a family photo of the Middletons or a shot of her and Pippa. Knowing your school colours is a great way to play on tradition. Of course, you could go to a University or College which has TERRIBLE color choices (I did). In that case, stick with muted colours that will stand up to the test of frequent washings for bedsheets or not shock your neighbours for drapery. Look at the gorgeous tradition shown below in the dining room at Will & Kate’s residence hall.
What Would Kate Do?
Kate would never do something like purchasing a sheet set with a University logo on it. Even before she was Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate was almost never seen with clothing or accessories largely flashing a logo. Take her attendance at the Brooklyn Nets game in New York a few years ago. She would never wear the team jersey, instead playing a subtle nod to the team with a jacket in the muted colours of their logo. What do we think this could mean for Kate? Perhaps it would be a monogrammed white sheet set with her initials in maroon (very handy for laundry day as well!) seeing as we know she and William have monogramed items in their current homes. It could also mean a nod to the school by purchasing a small item like a shower caddy in the school colours or, for a lover of Art History like Kate, finding a small piece of art that represents the rich history of the school, region or country to display in your room.
Add Personal Touches
While we’ve admitted that there are things we can’t change about University housing, and that Kate would be amongst those who would want to maintain the history & traditions of the school, there is always room for personal touches. We are lucky to have seen into Kate’s current house at Kensington Palace to get a really good sense of what those touches would have been in her dorm room. Look at this example of a personalized room in St. Salvators – this young man coming from Canada with an obvious passion for hockey!
What Would Kate Do?
Kate would have absolutely added her own personal touches. If you recall from the Obama visit of Kensington Palace, this would include several framed photographs of friends and family – and I’m sure being updated as snaps of Kate were taken around the dorms with her new friends.
If you’ve ever lived in a communal dorm, you’ll also be familiar with the smells that can sometimes emerge from your classmates’ rooms. While candles are typically frowned upon in dorms due to fire hazards, there are various types of room sprays that can make a room smell like home, or just less like the football player who lives across the hall. As a fan of Jo Malone’s scents – you’ll recall that Kate scented the bathrooms at the Royal Wedding with them – it’s highly possible those would have scented her dorm room. Other little touches – like pieces of art that inspired her from her classes in History of Art or a poster of one of the many sports she loved – would have probably graced the bare walls of her dorm. Of course it’s been speculated that there was a poster of Prince William on the wall but it’s been debunked as we learned that Kate had a poster of a Levi’s model from an advertisement on her walls during the Royal Engagement interviews. This is a great opportunity to find ways to showcase who you are and what makes you unique in small touches of “flair”. Souvenirs of memorable trips will also spark conversation with your new roommates! Kate’s gap year travels would be a great starting point.
And believe it or not, University and the dorm room that you spent so many years in will be over before you know it. I’m sure that for Kate, like it was for me, that University was over in a flash. You’ll be walking across the stage to get your degree, like Kate, seen here collecting her MA in the History of Art.
- Wills and the Real Girl, Vanity Fair (2010)
- St. Andrews University Information Pages
- Kate & Will’s Early Romance
- Decorate with the Duchess
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Pacific Coast Home Furnishings Essentials 600TC Eight-Piece Sheet Set • $300–365
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Vintage Vintage European Posters Picasso Exhibition Poster • $2,075
Jo Malone London TM Jo Malone TM ‘English Pear & Freesia’ Scent Surround TM Room Diffuser • Jo Malone • $90
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Dorm Sweet Dorm Mat, Warm • $10.99
Mini Refrigerator • Urban Outfitters • $149
UO Souvenir Austin Pennant • $24.95
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