Earn high marks for college living


August 15, 1999|By Karol V. Menzie | Karol V. Menzie,Sun Staff

The time has come to pack up the tape measure and the graph paper and head for that college dorm room that looked gigantic last spring when you were a lowly high school senior, and now looks smaller than your closet at home.

Lucky students at ritzy places like Oxford and Harvard get to live in "chambers" that come with quaint furniture, fireplaces and Rembrandt sketches. You, however, will more likely be stuck with a featureless box on whose walls you are not allowed to affix anything permanent. The soda machine will be in the basement.

And forget any notion of storage space. There won't be any.

So, after you've packed the dictionary, thesaurus, calculator, skis (if you're going to Colorado) or boogie board (if you're going to California), you need to think about those little comforts that make a space a home (sheets, blankets, rugs) and about where you're going to store all the stuff you're packing in your parents' SUV (stereo, espresso machine, essential videos).

It helps if you can get a look at your prospective abode and do some measuring. Is there room for a bookcase between the bed and the window? Can you fit a double stack of storage containers on the closet shelf?

Here are some suggestions to help you get organized; all items mentioned are available in local or nearby stores or by mail order.

From the Container Store: Take the advice of experts. Things to find out before you move in: Do the windows have shades or blinds or any other covering? Is there a phone in the room? Does it have voice mail? Could you use a portable table (above) for your computer? Is there a place to plug in your modem? Is there a refrigerator? Are there any bookshelves? Are the doors thick enough to support over-the-door storage? Find out if your parents' household insurance will cover the things in your dorm room. Mark all items with an indelible marker.

From Crate & Barrel: Crave some privacy? Use C&B's three-panel, 70-inch-high, steel-framed folding screen (above), $149. And if you need a really big clock to count down the hours to that anthropology test, C&B has one in brushed aluminum, 10 inches in diameter, $19.99. Add drawer space with frosted polypropylene storage units with snap-lock drawers and removable casters, $59.95 for four-drawer-unit, $79.95 for six-drawer unit. For a catalog or more information, call 800-323-5461.

From Imaginair: Somebody, someday, is going to come to visit -- kid sister, best friend from high school. Rather than toss out your roommate or mates, inflate an AeroBed (below), with its own built-in pump. It inflates in less than a minute and comes in twin ($99), full ($149) and queen ($179). If you can't find it in local bed and bath, department, mass-marketer or other stores, you can order by mail by calling 800-AEROBED ($14.95 shipping and handling).

From Bed Bath & Beyond: For comfort underfoot, there are cotton area rugs (above) in blue, terra cotta or wheat, among other colors; $7.99 for a 20-inch-by-40-inch size to $59.99 for 5 feet by 8 feet.To provide storage, try a dorm space saver -- a black metal frame with two high shelves that fits over a twin bed or a desk, $99.99. Or a deluxe, lockable, plastic storage container that would fit in a closet, or maybe under a bed. For a catalog, call 800-GO-BEYOND.

These tips are from "Organized State: The Ultimate Guide for College-Bound Students." For a free copy, stop by a Container Store (locations include 1601 Rockville Pike in Rockville and 8508 Leesburg Pike in Tyson's Corner, Va.), or call 800-786-7315.


More than 600 exhibitors will offer furniture, decorative accessories and more at the Baltimore Summer Antiques Fair Aug. 20-22 at the Baltimore Convention Center. The $9 admission fee is good for all three days. Call 301-924-5002 or 410-649-7396 .

Home Front welcomes interesting home and garden news. Please send suggestions to Karol V. Menzie, Home Front, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278, or fax to 410-783-2519. Information must be received at least four weeks in advance to be considered.

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