Even frat boys can use a little Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. The lifestyle-makeover show recently descended on the Sigma Chi house at the University of North Texas in Denton. While the rest of the Fab Five spruced and styled, interior-design expert Thom Filicia took a study break to talk to TIME's Jeffrey Ressner about dorm décor. "People define themselves aesthetically at a very young age," says Filicia, who spent his college years at Syracuse University. "The idea is to create a space that represents who you are and also something that's in your price range." More highlights from their tête-à-tête:
*WALLS A lot of times, you can't paint your dorm room, so a good thing to do is buy a big white stretch canvas or lots of small ones and paint them. That's a great way to bring color into a drab room. Or picture frames. Framing anything--instead of using thumbtacks for posters--is going to work, even if it's an inexpensive frame. And you can use shadowboxes to display concert tickets, photos or other things that are important to you.
*FLOORS AND FURNITURE You can get a huge sisal rug and then put a smaller, colorful one in the middleand oversize beanbaggy pillows on the floor for hanging out. Stacking boxes for storage can double as coffee tables when you're sitting on those oversize pillows. Use those oversize pillows as living-room-type seating when friends come over, and if they stay over, they can put them together and use them as a guest bed.
*LIGHTING Great lighting is hugely important in a dorm room. Usually there are just fluorescent or bad overhead lights. Lighting is an essential way to change the mood of a room, especially if you can use dimmers.
*STORAGE You can put nonessential things in long plastic boxes under the bed. More visible containers can be made of woven materials. Get pieces that are interesting to look at and not just practical. Practical storage pieces are great if you have a basement or a garage. But when you actually live with them day in and day out, they should be beautiful to look at. The things with the much better look cost about the same as the clear plastic, so why not?
*MAXIMIZING SPACE Shelving is very important, even if it's those simple shelves you screw into the wall and take home when you leave. Getting things up off the floor in a dorm room is key. You want to get things up high because there's not a lot of down. There's only so much square footage in a dorm room, and usually you get half of it. So the more things you can move up, the more room you have on the floor.
*PERSONALITY You should walk into a dorm room and really have a good idea of who this person is. In college you have the license to do things you'll never do again, so have fun with it. If you have a great fishing rod or a snowboard, get brackets and hang it on the wall or from the ceiling. If you know you're a slob, you need a great-looking hamper. It's a place where you know your clothes are. When you come home, drop your clothes in it, and if you don't have any clean clothes, you know where to go get something to wear again. It's not about changing people. It's about living the way you live, only living better.