On a Saturday afternoon, Mayfield 18 looks relatively similar to most others on Highland Quad. The common room is filled with chairs and a couch, all placed in front of the TV, and members of the Mayfield gather around, watching whatever’s on and joking around. It’s a simple space. Fun and welcoming, but simple.
Now, fast forward to that night, and this simple area transforms into a concert venue. Within a few hours, the corner that used to have a chair now has a full drum set, and in front of it there are two mic stands, a keyboard, and several guitars. With mood lighting provided by the “Open” sign hanging above the band, sound blares both inside and a 20-feet radius around Mayfield 18. Delaney Wilson and his band The Candid are playing a concert for nearly 100 students.
“Seriously, you haven't experienced life in the Mayborhood until you‘ve rocked out to ‘Dani California’ and ‘Fat Bottomed Girls’ with 100 people in a space designed for 10,” Wilson said.
Mayfield 18 takes liberty in transforming its common area into a full on concert venue, where it regularly hosts shows. However, this isn’t the only dorm on campus where students have taken their living situations into their own hands. From replacing furniture to building mega beds, these students truly make the most of what they have.
While Mayfield 18’s official project is titled “For the Love of the Game,” which focuses on mentoring middle school students through the medium of sports, they work to go beyond just the duties of their project by utilizing their home to create a vibrant and open social space. Mayfield 18 hosts monthly events, which are open to whoever wants to come.
“What makes our space so cool is the versatility that the 10 of us have when it comes to rearranging for different types of events,” Wilson said.
While there are various types of events at the Mayfield, such as movie screenings and homemade, family style dinners, Mayfield 18 is most famous for its concerts, which draw in crowds of around 100 people. And while the bands that play know the music makes the concert, they are aware that atmosphere is nearly as important. This is where the Mayfield lodge plays a crucial role. From setup to decorations, creating enough room for live music to be played and enjoyed in such a small space is no easy task.
“Setting up the band equipment takes a couple hours for sure, but rearranging of the furniture has become second nature, so we move like clockwork,” Wilson said. “But as far as the decorations go, we just kind of add as we obtain new things. Over the course of the year we‘ve gotten some flags, a Tom Petty tapestry, a neon open sign and some homemade signs from appearances on SEC Nation.”
For sophomore Kristen Nordham, redecorating wasn’t a group effort — rather, she felt the need to fill the space of her then-Branscomb double when her roommate left to study abroad.
“Having so much space for a single, when it’s supposed to be a double, I didn‘t want it to feel empty,” Nordham said. “Before my roommate moved out, I was really worried about it feeling like she was totally missing.”
Once an average-sized room for two, Nordham’s space now seems opulently large. Polaroid photos and sorority crafts line the walls. The pillows across Nordham’s king-sized bed, which she made by pushing her and her roommate’s mattresses together, reads “bon soir” — a nod to the French minor she’s pursuing. There’s a tapestry on one side of the room, and Christmas lights adorn the perimeter.
“There’s a lot going on,” Nordham said.
Abundance of decor aside, Nordham found that the space came together more organically than expected.
“I put the beds together in an afternoon, and just like collecting stuff on the walls was more gradual, but probably a week or so after [my roommate] was out [of the country] it was was all set up,” she said.
Still, in Nordham’s eyes, no amount of homey touches could replace the presence of a close friend.
“It’s lonelier for sure, not coming home every day to somebody being here,” Nordham admitted. “I really miss my roommate, and if I had to choose between having a ‘double single’ or Olivia, I would pick Olivia.”
While Nordham’s double-turned-single stood out for its size, sophomore Sophie Goddyn’s McGill single — at a cozy 109 square feet — proves that you don’t need a palace to create a home away from home.
Goddyn credits her father for figuring out how to maximize what space she did have.
“I kid you not, when I walked into this room, I thought I had the wrong room it looked so tiny … But [my father] did his engineering magic and placed everything so that it feels larger than it is,” she said.
Indeed, her single resembles a storybook cottage, kitschy and quaint but not cramped. A scarf hangs from the ceiling, softening the overhead light. There’s a mason jar full of silverware on a desk-made-nightstand. On another desk, a pen resembling Jesus sits among various writing utensils.
Amid posters depicting pasta shapes, mushroom species and bird plumage, there’s a painting on one of Goddyn’s walls that reads “Gouda Partner!” When asked about it, she said, “The story behind it is that you’re pronouncing it wrong. I am Dutch, and it is ‘howda partner,’ which sounds like ‘howdy partner,’ … My roommate last year made that for me. I actually have a gouda in the fridge right now. I’m very serious about my cheese.”
“Probably my favorite piece in the room of all is the giant ‘SEX’ sign hanging over my bed,” Goddyn said. She looks at the sign, made of painted wood and shaped like a hand pointing directly at her pillow, and laughs. “I found it at a street fair, and I thought it was hilarious.”
Ultimately, the quirkiness permeating Goddyn’s dorm decor serves as an homage to where she’s from: Portland, Oregon. Tapestries, concert setlists and infographic maps from the city Goddyn calls her own give the space a Pacific Northwest feel.
“Portland is definitely a big theme in my room,” Goddyn said. “I like to have a little taste of home on my walls if possible since I miss it a lot.”
Towers residents Jason Mayer and Quinlan Monk took it upon themselves to emulate the Lego movie by building a double decker couch in their six-person suite. The idea arose when the students were staying the summer at Vanderbilt for research programs.
“We were hanging out one night and someone was like, ‘What if we had a double decker couch?’ and I was like, ‘It wouldn’t be that hard.’” Monk said. From that conversation, an idea was born and the designing of the couch began.
“So, I guess the big concern is that it doesn’t like fall down and kill someone, right?” Monk said. “But most of the people in our suite are scientists or engineers or something like that, so we all kind of know something.”
In addition to prior knowledge, the suite also utilized books about set design and wood construction to create a rough sketch of the idea. From there, the construction began.
“We looked at those [books], and then it’s just some basic algebra. We worked that out, got some wood down at Home Depot, sketched out some stuff and showed it to some people, cut the wood, drilled some holes and bolted it together,” Monk said.
Monk emphasized that although his suite his full of people who are math savvy, it doesn’t take an engineer to do this. And in regards to its stability, the suite truly trusts the wooden structure.
“Oh it creaks a lot, but it’s not gonna fall down,” Mayer said.