Miss A Columnist

Denise Willard has over a decade of experience transforming the homes of clients in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Northern Virginia. Her work has been showcased on ABC Affiliate, News Channel 8 and published in The Washington Post, Home and Design Magazine, Washington Home & Garden, The Washingtonian, and Elan. She writes a regular design column for Viva Tysons, and has a blog where she shares her interior decorating insights, DreamDesignLive.com .

Denise specializes in creating simple, but elegant transitional interiors that are reflective of her clients' personalities and lifestyles. The combination of her southern roots and urban lifestyle can be seen in her personal design style, which combines the comfort and hospitality of the South with the flair of the big city.

Back To School: Dorm Room Decorating Must-Haves

Kids will be going back to college in a matter of weeks and now is the time to start thinking about their home-away-from-home room decor. Whether your child is heading out for their first year and will be living in a dorm or if they are older and living off campus, I wanted to share my must have list for college living.

This Dwell Studio bedding ensemble is available at Target

College life is usually full of budget-decor, but that doesn’t mean your child’s college room has to be plain or have a cheap look! Many stores market college items like plastic storage units and furniture that have bright colors and are very youthful, but I’d like to think college kids can do better than buying into the items that are solely marketed to them and find cool items that are not always highlighted during “back to school sales.”  Here’s a list of my top “must haves” to start that college shopping:
1.  Lift Your Bed to Maximize Storage: If a fancy storage bed is out of the budget and something you think you might tire of in a year or so, why not create your own storage bed?  Rather than let the space under the bed go to waste, use one of these clever tricks to give your college student the most possible storage space (especially if she is a girl):
  • Bed & Rack Risers. A set of four risers raises the bed six or more inches and provides extra storage room, but can still be hidden by a dust ruffle.  A Rack Riser takes this one step further and can lift your bed 20-25 inches off the ground, which can provide almost 40 additional cubic feet of storage space.  These risers are available at www.bedbathandbeyond.com, as well as target, home depot and several other stores.
  • Rolling Under Bed Cart. With the bed lifted off the ground, now you gotta get some products for storing all your kids’ stuff.  Unlike basic boxes that can get weighed down with items and difficult to pull out from under the bed, the rolling under bed storage cart makes retrieving your stored items easy. Underbed carts are ideal for storing shoes, clothes, towels, blankets, supplies or anything else you want organized and out of the way.  Check them out at www.walmart.com .
  • Under-Bed Storage Bag. Clear plastic underbed bags store clothing, bedding and blankets, and keep seasonal items out of your way, clean and dust free. These bags are perfect for coats, sweaters, etc. when the weather gets warm.  Available at www.containerstore.com.
  • Aluminum 9-Pair Shoe Rack. Store extra shoes in this compact shoe rack that sits low to the floor. It stores up to nine pairs of shoes and fits neatly under the bed.  Available at www.containerstore.com.

    (Photo Credit: Ikea)

2.  Express Yourself With Whimsical Decor. Don’t just settle for beige and boring.  Even though you are limited in a dorm room or rental as to what you can do to dress it up, one area you can go “crazy” is in your bedding and decorative items.  Check out a few of these options to give your room that “Wow” effect:
  • FLOR Tiles. Nothing adds more warmth to a room than a rug. Create any size or color carpet you like with Flor Tiles that come with adhesive that you just use to stick together without any damage to the flor. Interface FLOR has reclaimed 93 million tons of old carpet and recycled it into new carpet backing. The company also has a return/recycle program where it sends you a recyclable bag and pays for the shipping of your old products back to the company where it recycles it into new product.  Check out all the styles and options at www.flor.com.
  • Top Designers Offer Discount Bedding. Your bed is another opportunity to make a big decorative statement!  This year there is a great selection of happy bold colors and fun patterns available at Target.  Check out the Isaac Mizrahi, Jonathan Adler and Dwell Studio Collections at www.target.com.
  • Fabric As Wall Hanging. Select a stunning fabric, frame it and make it your focal point in the room.  This is a great way of infusing color into the space without painting (a no-no for most dorm living).  Lots of options are available at your local fabric store.
  • Use a Wall Decal or Photo Mural. Wall decals are all the rave right now in dorm and apartment living because they provide visual interest and dress up the space without damaging the walls.  They can easily be removed at the end of the year when your student heads home or when he or she wants to go for a different look.  You can also take your favorite photo and make a wall mural.  There are tons of options available at Velocityartanddesign.com and MuralsYourWay.com.

This stunning wall decal dresses up this bed and is totally removable

3.  Get Your Gadgets On. What college student’s room would be complete without the latest and greatest gadgets?  Some of my favorites include:
  • “Never-Late” Alarm Clock. The Never-Late 7-Day Alarm Clock accommodates your schedule with seven settings — one for each day of the week! Set it once and forget about it all semester.   Available at www.ThinkGeek.com
  • Noise Cancelling Headphones. A must have if you’re going to share a dorm room.  Available at www.BestBuy.com.
  • Pen Recorder. I love these things and you’re going to find that they are going to work great in class.  You can take notes, as well as record lectures and more. Available at www.logipen.com.
  • Digital Notepad. This is the last thing on my list.  Why waste paper?  When you have a digital notepad, there’s no reason to waste paper.  Just throw up your notes and not worry about wasting paper.  Check them out at www.walmart.com.
Happy Shopping!
Denise

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