Dorm decorating

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Bean bag chairs and lava lamps are still retro cool for college students. Area rugs can add a needed splash of color and style, while milk crates remain tried-and-true dorm-storage essentials.

By Chris Harris

College classes are a few weeks away, but it's never too early to start thinking of what to bring to make your home away from home just a bit more like home.

Most dorms come equipped with the standards: bed, dresser, cinderblock walls and thin carpeting or tile floors. The challenge comes when trying to personalize your small space.

Area rugs can soften the cinderblock walls and bring a splash of color to the room. Hanging curtains is also a good way to liven up the space, said Kristen Bilyeu, a senior at Southeast Missouri State University.

Bilyeu has lived on campus for the bulk of her college career. She is starting her third year as a resident assistant. Bilyeu said decorating a dorm room depends on where you are staying.

Her friends and residents get creative with lighting and hanging curtains.

"I've seen people who have hung those pull lanterns or the ones with lights in them," Bilyeu said. One of her friends put a canopy over her bed to soften the room.

Curtains can be hung with Velcro, pull tabs or hooks and they liven the room beyond the bland window treatments that come standard in dorm rooms.

Most experts recommend using monochromatic color schemes to open small spaces because the lack of dimension creates the appearance of space, but you might want to check with a roommate to avoid a color war in your new room.

"You definitely have to learn how to compromise," Bilyeu said. She also suggested contacting your future roommate to prevent doubles of the necessities like a microwave or TV.

Milk crates are also popular among dorm dwellers. They can be stacked for book or clothing storage or used as a TV stand for smaller sets.

Many students buy peg boards or ribbon boards to make collages of pictures to decorate the walls, and Bilyeu said posters are always a fail-safe way to decorate. She named a throw blanket as top on her priority list because in many dorms students can't control the temperature.

She listed Target, Wal-Mart and Lowe's as great places to find things either ready-made or to use in arts and crafts, like hooks from Lowe's to hang curtains.

Room Essentials, Target's line of middle-income furniture and accessories, provide mix-and-match pieces for bedding and decor.

Target's 2007 Back to School line carries accessories in pink, brown, aqua and navy blue.

"The good thing with this year's stuff is it's not that bright retro coloring," said Annette Jeffries, team leader for housewares and domestics at the Target in Cape Girardeau.

"Whether it goes with a guy or girl, you can really mix it well this year," she said. "A lot of this can go either way."

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