Sites Announces Winner of Dorm Room Contest


Ciara Kamahele is a 21-year-old MIT student who just became $1,000 richer. Her cool dorm room’s creative artistic touches beat out over 150 other submissions.

Kamahele is studying computer science, but you might have guessed something a little more arts-driven looking at her colorful room, which includes several murals.

“I tried to do the freehand mural of the skyline and the Boston bridge, and if you look really closely you can see the Citgo sign, or at least I tried!’’ Kamahele said

MIT allows its students to build their own desks and lofts, and Kamahele’s dorm lets residents paint their rooms as well as halls and common spaces — policies Kamahele clearly used to her advantage here.

Kamahele and her three other suitemates painted a black light mural of various deep sea creatures over their doors, then installed a black light in the ceiling to make them glow.

“We were originally thinking space but we wanted to do something different and thought how dark it is at the bottom of the ocean,’’ Kamahele said.An added bonus, Kamahele said, is that the blacklight also makes certain drinks, like gin, glow in the dark for that added party flare.

An avid rock climber, Kamahele wanted to pay homage to the great outdoors, as well. She did this by painting her walls a bright green and painting a tree on her dresser.

Kamahele built her hanging loft bed and both of her desks herself. “I always wanted a bunk bed,’’ Kamahele said. “I think it is cool to sleep up high.’’

The furniture layout of the room came from years of trial and error, beginning in Kamahele’s freshman year. She built her own loft then, too, but one of its poles was in the middle of the room. This year, she has a hanging loft for more floor space. She also realized she needed two desks: one for her homework, and one for electrical engineering projects with extra storage and shelves. Now that she has mastered her set up, she prefers to do her work in her room.

Kamahele said that her dorm room is a place she can really express herself, whereas her bedroom at home in San Diego is white and “boring.’’

Many students and friends of Kamahele have already expressed interest in living in her room for the next school year, so she hopes not to have to de-construct her loft or paint over the murals.

If all goes well, Kamahele’s cool design sense will be enjoyed for semesters to come.