Category Archives: Decor & Style

Making Your Dorm Room Into Something Amazing

If you’re moving into a dorm room this fall, you may want an amazing space that lets you study and entertain in style while showing off your chic sense of décor. Unfortunately, if you are like most students you have been issued the standard, impersonal shoebox of a room and you may have a budget that makes it hard to splurge on terrific pieces. Even so, there’s hope if you want to make your dorm into something special.

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Take care of the floor

Dorm room floors are often unattractive and may be poorly maintained. Use carpet remnants from a carpet depot or rug store or even a few inexpensive rugs to brighten the space and to make your dorm room floor something you don’t mind walking on. Just make sure you don’t make it hard to open your door – you need the ventilation under your door to prevent condensation and mildew.

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Layer and don’t worry too much about matching everything up

Lots of layers of color and texture add some interest and personality to your room. Pile on bed linens, curtains, and even fabrics on walls and ceilings. Just don’t worry about matching everything up – just keep colors complimentary and contrasting. If you don’t have the money to match everything up, creating a more funky mismatched look is the next best option – and it will keep things fresh and unique.

Upcycle items rather than buying new

Your parents and friends may be willing to donate furniture and décor items which you can re-do with new upholstery, paint, and a little imagination. Scour local second-hand shops and garage sales for furniture and other items you need. If you have inherited some ugly pieces and need a little inspiration or how-to help, check out this Pinterest page for ideas and step-by-step instructions.

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Come up with ways to stow your stuff

One of the big challenges with dorm life is that there is very little storage space. You will need to create some of your own. Here are a few ideas about ways to find some extra space when you live in a shoebox:

  • Put your bed on risers and use the extra space under your bed to store boxes and linens. Use a bed skirt to hide the items under there.
  • Check with your campus housing association to find out whether you can adhere things to the walls. If so, hanging shelves and racks can be a great way to make the most of your wall space.
  • Buy a storage ottoman for sitting and for storing small items.
  • Buy furniture that does double duty. A comfy chair that is also a pull-out bed for guests can be a great option. Clear off the top of a dresser to use as a vanity. Make your furniture work for the space.

For more unique storage tips, check out this handy article.

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Invest in more lighting

Dorm room lighting is usually very basic – inexpensive, functional, and usually not enough for late nights of studying. You will need some lamps and extra lights for gentle light in the evenings and when entertaining. Inexpensive strings of lights or novelty lights are a good option. This article has some good tips. In addition, be sure to invest in a good floor lamp or task lamp so that you can read and work at your desk or in your bed without getting eye strain.

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College textbooks are expensive – and so is college life. Good thing you don’t have to spend a fortune or take out extra loans to live in college style. If you’re still not sure where to start, check out this blog to take a look at some dorm makeovers.

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Stylish Hardware Fixes for Your Home

On this blog, we’ve mentioned a few times that even apartment-dwellers can easily transform their rented homes with new hardware. Hardware is truly amazing because it makes such a difference, but is easy and inexpensive to change. If you’ve never experimented with this design idea before, consider:

Knobs and pulls

Knobs and pulls are amazingly versatile and can transform just about anything. Consider changing the knobs and pulls on:

  • Dressers
  • Cupboards
  • Nightstands
  • Pots and dutch ovens
  • Doors

They can instantly transform your space. Look for unique hardware at second-hand stores, yard sales, and at your local hardware store. You can even make your own pulls and knobs. This blog post has some great ideas for DIY pulls. Another blogger here has some additional fun ideas.

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Another idea with pulls and knobs is to put them at the end of painted wooden poles to create your own curtain rods for a fraction of the cost. Just buy simple wooden rods, metal rods, or even electrical conduits at your local hardware store and choose two matching pull knobs. You can just screw the knobs in. You can paint the rods or leave them as is. The whole project costs less than $10 in most cases.

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If you have extra door knobs, you can use them inside your closet to hang accessories and ties. Or, screw them next to your window for an attractive curtain holder. Be sure to check out this blog for more unique projects.

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Switch plates

Switch plates and outlet covers are usually not very inspiring, but you can easily transform them into something special by adding some decorative switch plates. Oddee.com even has a guide here on making your own customized versions. If you can’t find great switch plates and don’t want to make your own, another idea is to place a frame around electrical outlets and light switches — even around thermostats. This will instantly add some style with very little effort.

Door handles and locks

Door handles and locks do more than just keep unwanted guests out. They can also look amazing. Swap out the door locks and handles on your door for a whole new look. Check out this website for beautiful door handle ideas. While you are making over your door, consider adding a whimsical door knocker (even on interior doors), beautiful street numbers, or even your monogram.

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Hinges

These days, it seems as though most people think that door hinges should be functional and invisible, but there are actually a range of decorative hinges and strap hinges that look great on wardrobes, closets, doors, and cupboards. Look for rustic designs for your pantry door and dramatic gothic designs for wood doors. Check out this Pinterest page to see the amazing things you can do with a few hinges.

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Hardware may seem to be one of the least interesting design elements, but it can really be one of the most exciting. Inexpensive and easy to buy, hardware can make a big difference in your home – even if you aren’t handy or don’t have time for big makeover projects.

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Décor Hacks to Transform Your Home

You don’t have to be a genius (or a trust fund baby) to make your home gorgeous. A few simple hacks can take your home’s interior from ho-hum to dazzling:

Never throw anything away without careful consideration.

It’s amazing what you can do in your home with a few items you were about to throw out. That old coffee table can be transformed into a TV table, ottoman, or shelving. There is even a tutorial online on how to transform plastic spoons into a decorative wreath (really – you can see it here). Something as modest as some cardboard can be transformed into something functional, such as a vanity (instructions here) or a room divider (visit this page for how-tos).

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If you are looking around your home and thinking that you need all new furniture, really consider before tossing anything out. You can often get a hip new look simply by repainting something you have or transforming it. If you would like some cool ideas on transforming what you own into unique décor items, check out this Pinterest page.

Invest in crown molding from your local hardware store.

It is truly amazing what some simple — and inexpensive — crown molding can do:

  • Attach it to your walls for one-of-a-kind frames
  • Add texture to walls by applying layers of it over your walls
  • Affix it to the top of bookcases and paint it to match your shelves to create a more upscale bookcase
  • Create the look of built-in bookshelves by placing several tall bookshelves side by side and applying crown molding along the edges where the bookshelves meet – you’ll get the look of one built-in wall unit if you paint the entire structure
  • Add some interest to your ceiling space by attaching dramatic crown molding in a contrasting color near the ceiling
  • Transform a chest of drawers by sticking strips of crown molding to the drawers, painting the whole piece, and adding funky hardware

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Buy wallpaper, fabrics, and paints you love in bulk.

You can transform just about any home with these three items. Use the paint to update walls, kitchen cabinets, furniture, and even floors. For some incredible decoration makeovers with paint, check out this Pinterest page.

Wallpaper is another interior design secret. It’s really not just for walls. The cool patterns mean that it can transform just about anything in your house, from old hatboxes and vases to old pieces of furniture and even doors. Try wallpapering just one wall or the insides of your bookcases for a fun look. If you live in an apartment, you can even make your own temporary wallpaper from fabric and starch (find the instructions here).

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Fabrics are another thing you will want to stock up on. You can use them to create your own curtains, bed coverings, throws, and more. Even if you can’t sew, you can use gorgeous fabrics to reupholster existing furniture. If you live in an apartment or just don’t want to bother with wallpaper or paint, you can also transform drab walls by hanging large pieces of fabric over them. If you live in a rented space, simply use tension rods to keep the fabric in place.

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With a little padding and some fabric, you can also transform just about anything into a cute seating area. For example, turn a shelving unit on its side, add padding and fabric to the top, and you have a cute bench or window seat. A stepstool or even a block of wood can become an ottoman with padding and some fabric.

Steal ideas from expensive stores and magazines and create your own.

One of the best hacks out there is simple: find a cute or trendy item that costs an arm and a leg and create your own version for a fraction of the price. This site can show you how.

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Buy inexpensive blank canvases and use them to cover up anything you don’t like.

Buy blank canvases at your local art store and paint them yourself if you are artsy. If not, use stencils, fabric, wallpaper, or your photos on the canvas to create your work of art. Then, use your art pieces to cover up cracks in the walls, unsightly air conditioners, exposed pipes, or anything else that you hate but don’t have time to fix right away.

Try a few DIY decor projects this weekend — a few supplies may be all you need to makeover your apartment or house.

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What To Do if you Hate Your Apartment

It happens more than you think. A sudden move, a small budget, or lack of research can all mean that you end up with an apartment you don’t love. Whether the place is small, in bad shape, or badly lit, an unattractive apartment is a drain . It’s hard to feel great when you loathe where you live. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to transform your less-than-perfect apartment into something that you’ll love:

1) Figure out what you hate.

Avoid comparing your apartment to others. Just try to make an objective list of things you don’t like. Does it feel cramped? Do you not have enough room for clothes? Is it dark or in bad shape? Does it have a cold, impersonal feel? Rather than fuming, get specific. Number your list, from the things that bug you the most to minor annoyances.

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2) Find out what you can change.

Most landlords are happy when you make an apartment look great, since it makes it easier to rent out the space again when you leave. However, you don’t want to lose your damage deposit, so be sure to ask before you open a can of paint or re-tile the kitchen floor. That said, there are lots of things you can do to make-over your space on a small budget.

3) Find apartment-friendly fixes.

You don’t need a huge budget or tons of know-how to transform an apartment into something beautiful. The most common problems include:

  • Tiny spaces. If you live in a very small space, there is a two-prong solution you need to follow: prune out what you no longer need and find creative ways to stow what you do have. Start by getting rid of as much as you can. You’ll find that much of what you have you don’t really need anyway, and you probably own a lot of stuff you don’t even especially like. Once you’ve pared down, find new ways to store things. You can use hooks inside doors, for example, to keep things organized, or furniture that folds away or acts as a storage space. For some creative small-space hacks, check out this Complex Magazine post.3083545403_1b2d683019
  • Poorly-maintained apartments. If your apartment is not in good shape, you may want to speak with your landlord about it. For major repairs (such as problems with the plumbing or the wiring) you will need to persist until the landlord agrees to an upgrade. If he or she refuses, there are legal avenues that you can explore. For less dire repairs, such as painting, you may be able to get permission from management to fix that on your own.
  • Inconvenient kitchens. If your kitchen does not have enough space, consider a breakfast or bar stool rather than a small dining table – you’ll save room. If counter space is at a premium, buy a kitchen cart, which will give you an additional chopping surface as well as storage space. If you are low on cupboard space, consider hanging shelves outside of cupboards as well as dividers within your cupboards. Both will allow you to store more things. For more small kitchen ideas, visit this BuzzFeed post.
  • Lack of storage space. Some studio apartments have only one small closet as storage space. One solution is to get a storage unit nearby for extra items. Shelving and drawers are another good solution – especially if you can get taller units that take advantage of the space near the ceiling, which is wasted in most apartments. This Pinterest user has additional storage ideas for small spaces.
  • Dim, cramped apartment. The solution here is a few extra lamps, lighter colors, and reflective surfaces. The three used together will create a larger-looking, brighter space.

4) Focus on the positive.

If your apartment is noisy and near a train station, it may be in an older building full of character. If your space is tiny, it may be close to everything in a major city where people long to live. Even if your apartment is not your dream home, there are probably things you can play up. If you have a nice living room space, you can set it off with great furniture. If you have a nice view or nice windows, you can play that up with bright curtains and a window box of plants.

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5) Inspire yourself with apartment makeovers.

There’s a reason that makeover and home renovation shows are such a big hit – everyone loves to see a space transformed into something gorgeous. More to the point, if you hate your apartment or home but can’t move, these transformations can tickle your muse and inspire your own apartment makeover. Must-see transformations include this Huffington Post makeover and this Nate Berkus tiny studio transformation.

When you hate where you live, entertaining may take a wayside. When you focus on improving what doesn’t work and highlighting any nice features of your apartment, you’ll wind up with an apartment you are proud to show off.

Setting a Perfect Table: Dining Spaces With Style

Even if you don’t entertain a lot, creating a gorgeous dining room – or even a dining area off the kitchen – will help you enjoy your meals more. Yes, you can eat in the kitchen or in front of the TV, but after a long day at work it is nice to be able to treat yourself to a nice, quiet sit-down meal. If you have a family, a dining area can be a great place to reconnect over meals every day. When renovating your space, make sure that you:

1) Take care of dining room storage.

You need something to store your dishware and other items for your dining room settings. If you have a small home, your dining area storage can even be a sneaky way to store extra books, collectibles, or other items you may want to show off to guests. Storage ideas range from traditional hutches to modern-looking bookshelves and sideboards. When making your choices, carefully consider how much storage space you need and what items you need to stow away. Be sure to check out this houzz post about storage ideas for your dining area.

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2) Opt for comfortable chairs.

You can buy dining sets that include tables and chairs, but in many cases it can be a better idea to buy tables and chairs separately. Not only can you save money by checking out the best deals for each piece, but buying chairs and table separately also ensures your dining space doesn’t look over-matched. Look for chairs that work with your table – but don’t necessarily match it perfectly. The overall look will be more interesting than a pre-fab “set.”

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When looking at chairs, consider the material and comfort of the chairs in question. Look for a material that will repel stains and a style that will be comfortable enough for a long dinner party. While you’re at it, look beyond just dining room chairs when considering seating. Upholstered easy chairs, padded benches, and stools can all also work well. In fact, there’s no rule that says all your dining seating has to match. You can have a soft bench along one side of your dining table and padded dining chairs along another side. Mixing and matching creates a more unique look and allows you and your guests a few more choices as to where to sit. Once you have your tables, be sure to visit this GMC Trade Secrets blog post for tips on how to arrange your dining room seating.

3) Pick a great table.

A great table is the cornerstone of your dining space, and you will want to invest in the right piece. If you have the space for it, a huge table looks dramatic and is very practical. It can double as a work area once you clear off your meals and it gives you the flexibility of hosting larger parties. If a larger table is not in the cards, look for a smaller table that can expand into a larger piece. Be sure to choose something that is visually appealing and looks great both with and without a tablecloth. Apartment Therapy has this post about great dining room tables.

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4) Choose flexible lighting.

Lighting in a dining area should never be overpowering. If you must have overhead lights, have a dimmer handy so that you can lower the lights for dinner. Or, use lanterns or candles to cast a gentle glow. Introduce plenty of reflective surfaces – such as mirrored tables or furniture and clear glasses – to add some sparkle.

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5) Buy what you need to set a beautiful table.

Real cloth tablecloths and napkins may seem fussy and stuffy, but they can actually transform your meals into something special. Man-made fibers are easy to clean and won’t wrinkle, so cleaning up is as simple as running your washer and dryer. Napkin rings, beautiful plates and glasses, and candles will make each meal an event. When your meal is done, you can store these things in your hutch or dining room storage.

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6) Keep some personal items in your dining area to create interest and to give the area a lived-in look.

If you have a separate dining room, one of the risks is that it can eventually start to feel a little stuffy and unused, especially if you tend to eat in your kitchen some or all of the time. Keep your dining room feeling alive by using it regularly and adding a few unique items – such as vase with flowers or a few books – that you change up regularly. This can make even a formal dining room look a little less cold. If you are trying for an ultra-modern and sleek dining room, add some personal touches with art pieces. You will still have that modern look but without the impersonal feel.

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7) Cover the walls with fabrics.

This is an old trick that has been used in dining areas to reduce reverberations while enhancing voices and music. As an added bonus, fabric on the walls looks luxurious. You can create the effect with tapestries or curtains, but one of the sleekest and most stylish options is simply to use a gorgeous fabric as wallpaper. To get the step-by-step instructions, check out this blog post by Jessica Jones.

Dining spaces can range from formal to ultra casual, from grand to modest. All can look fabulous. Need proof? Check out this Pinterest to check out a range of gorgeous dining rooms in just about every style possible. Then, get started on your own dining area.