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Dorm Design

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Whether you’re a fashionista who considers “Gossip Girl” star Blake Lively your idol, an eco-friendly student who thinks Al Gore is “the man” or a dude who decorates with books, you can find the back-to-dorm decor that reflects your personality and tastes.

The choices are more varied than ever in this year’s crop of cool stuff to trick out your dorm room and turn it into a sweet space.

You can get ideas on how to organize and decorate your room in different themes from store Web sites, which often depict rooms as well as show products. And JCPenney has a cool area on Facebook as well as on jcp.com that offers a virtual way to decorate by dragging accessories into a room.

Container Store, Bed from Sleep Essentials, Bath & Beyond and JCPenney are offering checklists in stores or online to help so you get everything you need.

Many of the basics have remained the same over the years, but trend experts say today’s college students want their rooms to reflect their personalities and philosophies more than ever before.

And one of those philosophies is a concern for the environment.

“One major trend we have seen is going green and being eco-friendly,” says Olescia Hanson, spokeswoman for the Container Store. Some of the items that reflect this trend are bamboo garment racks, bins made out of recycled fabric and trash cans with graphic designs made from biodegradable plastic.

Bold colors are available in everything from desk chairs to lamps, garbage cans and stacking drawers.

“Lots of bold colors make functional storage another way to express personality,” Hanson says.

Bedding can also make a personal statement, says Catherine Gentile, public relations manager of Bed, Bath & Beyond. Bedding choices can run the gamut from spreads emblazoned with the school logo to those with bright colors or wild prints.

One of the significant items you may not think of is Bed, Bath & Beyond’s new Allergy Luxe Bed Bug mattress protector, which protects you from any bed bugs that may have been hiding in the mattress. Gentile said the protector has micro zipper technology that allows the mattress to be securely encased. It comes in twin and twin extra long, the typical college bed size.

Another interesting new item from Bed, Bath & Beyond is the bed desk, which can be angled into different positions and has fold out legs for easy storage. It also has a built-in LED light and built-in mouse pad.

Art has also changed, according to Deb Schweiss, trend director of JCPenney Home.

“Definitely we are moving toward what we are calling alternative art work,” she says. “We are using pieces of fabric or beaded panels.”

Many of the art items are made so they will not damage dorm walls such as JCPenney’s canvas over wood prints that are backed with adhesive tape.

The beaded panels are the same concept as the hippie beads that hung in doorways in the 1960s, but these targeted for dorms are made of metallic discs. They are used as a layering piece on window coverings, on walls and to divide rooms.

“Kids are creative,” Schweiss said. “They can hang the panels over the screen. It’s all about personalization.”

Another great way to personalize is by hanging letters on the wall that spell out your interest.

Although the prices of much of the dorm decor are reasonable, it doesn’t have to be disposable. And many of the items, such as stackable drawers with wheels, can be used in different configurations to allow them to be an end table in one place and fit under the bed in another location.

“These products are great quality so something can last four years and beyond to the first apartment,” Container Store’s Hanson says.

“These solutions are flexible. The student will be moving a few times throughout college and you want something that can be adjusted to different places.”



Bed, Bath & Beyond: One of the best designed Web sites, it has six categories by function (eat, sleep, study, etc.) “Survival 101” gives tips. There’s also decorating ideas, a checklist of what you will need and a locater for the store nearest your school. BBB offers “pack and hold,” a feature that allows you to shop on line and place your order and have it shipped to a store near your dorm. See bedbathandbeyond.com.

Container Store: Offers a free booklet “Dorm: Give Yourself Some Space” in stores and online at containerstore.com. The booklet includes examples of theme rooms, gives suggestions for the six areas of organization, provides a list of must-haves and a checklist of what’s needed in a dorm room. The company’s college organization experts can help you create a customized organizational plan. Call 888-266-8246 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m.- 8 p.m. Sunday.

JCPenney: The “Dorm Life” section, which is also on Facebook, provides dorm solutions, including a checklist, discovering your personal style, and how to get the most our of small spaces. You can register online so your gifts and purchases can be shipped to a store near your school. See jcp.com and search for “dorm.”



What are the hottest back-to-dorm items?

We talked to representatives from Bed, Bath & Beyond, Container Store and JCPenney to get their takes on must-haves that will make dorm life more comfortable and more organized. Here are their picks:

Adjustable floor lounger: Extra seating is always important when guests come to hang out in your room, but you also need stuff that folds up and stores easily. This lounge is microfiber over a foam-covered steel frame and can be bent and put away; $79.99, JCPenney.

Bamboo garment rack: This eco-friendly rack, made of sustainable bamboo, will give you up to 31 inches of extra hanging space. It has shelves for storage, sections for hanging long and short clothes and casters so it can be moved around; $129, the Container Store (exclusive).

Bed desk: Who doesn’t like to work in bed from Shop Sofa? It’s part of the college scene. This bed desk, in espresso is adjustable and has fold-up legs so it can be stored easily, and includes an LED light and a mouse pad; $29.99, Bed, Bath & Beyond.

Charging bulletin board: Check out the ultimate tech station. Not only can you post reminders of parties and other cool stuff, you can charge up to three devices, such as MP3 players, cell phones or game players. You can connect to all devices through a USB port and there are stereo speakers with built-in volume control; $179.99, JCPenney.

Folding cushion chair: Forget folding chairs that are a pain. This one has a baffled design for comfort. The upholstery is combed poly and 600 denier polyester fabric, and the frame is a lightweight steel alloy. It comes with a carry/storage case to make it easy to fold and store; $39.99, Bed, Bath & Beyond.

Oh! Chair: Karim Rashid, a master of modern design, created this comfortable desk chair for Umbra. Rashid, who always has a sense of humor, named the chair for the comforting “Oh!” he thinks you’ll say when you sit on it. It is made of polypropylene with powder-coated steel legs. The ergonomic design isn’t rigid. It gives for comfort but still supports your bod; $49, Container Store.


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