Dorm Meets Design

…And Sledge is back with a vengeance!

Let’s talk college. For those of us who have been there, we all remember the grueling late nights of studying (or rehearsing for us theater folk), the horrible cafeteria options and the dorms. Oh the dorms. That ridiculous rite of passage where by you’re forced to live with a perfect stranger for 9-10 months and cram your entire life into a poorly lit space the size of a shoe box.

Well for you new readers, I promise you there’s hope. Your first year does NOT have to consist of you gaining the freshman 15 and sleeping in a drafty room that reminds you of where Martha spent a year in West Virginia.

No matter how many times you’ve scoured your school’s website and Google Image searched, you really have no idea what kind of space you are walking in to. Maybe a little something like this:

Empty Dorm

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Or worse:

Empty Dorm 2

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But there are plenty of tips, tricks and advice towards making this cement block of a space feel like home.

The key to really enjoying your space is making it comfortable. That starts with the piece of furniture you’re going to spend most of your time in: the bed. Let’s start with support – a solid mattress pad and an egg crate are musts. Egg crate you ask? Yes, you can thank me later. Those mattresses are likely very uncomfortable and any extra cushion will be appreciated.

Good sheets are just as important. I’d recommend going a step up in the quality department. Seriously. Those college nights can be long, no matter what you’re doing and you’ll love coming home to a bed that doesn’t like it came out of Van Wilder.  Personally, Jefe and I loved our Striped Sheet Set from West Elm.  They’re extremely soft and held up really well after 2 years of solid use.

West Elm Striped Sheet Set

Comforters and duvets should be washable. Trust me. This will be your bed, couch, study spot, dinner table, and dance floor all in one. Spills are bound to happen. In terms of style, I’d pick something that’s uniquely you without screaming “Star Wars is my jam!” Going a little bit more sophisticated never hurt anyone.   A moderately priced duvet may be your best best as it’s washable and can be swapped out if you tire of it.  This actually was my duvet eons ago, in a bit more a sage color, and it was worth every penny; it got softer with every washing and paired nicely with the buttery yellow walls of my bedroom in our sorority house.  To pair with those great striped sheets, you could try a luxurious, yet neutral option from H&M’s new home line:

H&M Duvet Cover

Now lets talk pillows. As I suggested, that bed is going to get some serious use (wink wink). So besides your usual pillows, I would get a few “decorative” ones that can serve multiple purposes. I’ve found bigger European and body pillows are best and can turn any bed in to a couch or help create an extra seat on the floor.

Bed to Sofa

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Luckily, floor pillows are all the rage so it should be easy to find something in your particular taste.  I’m a big fan of these floor cushions that would work great as a backrest on  your bed or tossed on the floor for added seating.

World Market Floor Pillow

Lastly, I would add a throw blanket. It can be folded at the end of the bed, draped over the foot rail or used for extra warmth in cold months (or to cover your new best friend who fell asleep on your floor after a late night out).  And it adds a homey touch to an otherwise cold room.

Dorm Bed with throw

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After move-in day and you’ve had the chance to spend some time in your space, you can always look in to some DIY options for headboards. Is it necessary? No. Will it help make the space feel like it’s more yours and less like a cement cell? Definitely.   There are plenty of options from large wall decals to simple pieces of foam and fabric-wrapped wood that would really take your room up a notch. You’d be amazed what batting your eyes at that upper-class man with a pick-up truck will get you. Usually a free trip to Home Depot for the wood for your DIY project AND an invite to his house party later that night ;-).  Alternatively, you could go the wall decal route:

DIY Decal Headboard

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While researching this post, I also came across this great new invention: over the bed storage that can also double as a “headboard”.  You can customize the back wall with decorative paper or fabric and a little modge podge.  It also gives you some much needed storage above your bed for those photos of your besties from back home.

Overbed storage 2

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Overbed storage

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Lets talk lighting. Quite possibly the worst part of dorm life – those horrendous overhead fluorescents that make your skin look green. So we are going to TURN. THEM. OFF. Lamps are your best friends. It’s safe to say that you’ll need a minimum of 2 to truly avoid the overhead: one for your desk exclusively and one for the rest of the living space. And your eyes will thank you for that soft white light while you’re cranking away during a marathon study session. It will also give your space a great, homey atmosphere that will be the envy of all your hallmates. I would recommend a style that could easily transition to a first apartment so you’re not buying something as a temporary solution.

PB Teen Task Lamp

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Land of Nod lamp

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And that rule applies for just about everything other than those extra long twin sheets that you will most certainly never use again: purchase for longevity.  My third year of college I bought a queen size duvet for my twin bed; my only regret was not doing it 2 years earlier.   I manage to found one that was great quality (without breaking my budget),  so I was able to keep it for the long haul and still use it today.

Desk space. Lets get creative. Do you really need that plain mesh pencil cup from Office Depot? How about a pretty monogrammed mug from CWonder instead? It serves the same purpose but gives you a little panache.

CWonder Mug

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I think the same can be applied for just about anything: why choose a plain notebook when you can get one covered in chevrons that makes you smile every time you look at it? Or how about a cork board covered in fabric? Maybe some DIY bookends (kids still use actual books, right? Or am I that old?!)

CB2 Bookends

These are from CB2 but could EASILY be DIY’ed

The point is, take this as an opportunity to really exercise your imagination in how you can really put your stamp on the space so it’s as inviting as possible.

Storage. You’re gonna need more, no matter who you are. Unless you’re one of those lucky kids that gets an apartment in their first year and are spared this form of mild university-condoned hazing, you will inevitably need some form of storage beyond the blond wood, 30 year old dresser you’re issued. Once you’ve spent some time in your space, figured out what fits where and what still needs a home, plan that trip to your local Target (or if you’re one of the lucky kids near a city, a nearby Ikea). Modern, design savvy storage has come a long way since the standard clear plastic bins of my college years. Below are some suggestions:

Ikea Cart

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World Market Rolling Locker

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(Drink cart anyone?! For your bottles of Diet Coke…)

Closet storage is pretty straightforward.  Just find the things that work for you and your space.  3M hooks can be a lifesaver as are those hangers that can hold 4 pairs of pants at once.  I also used to drape my scarves over hangers to save space.

Lastly, let’s talk food. Yes, I know you’ve got a meal plan. But there will inevitebly be those times that you’re just sick of the cafeteria’s chicken parm or you really want a late night snack and don’t feel like leaving the building. For this, I’d recommend one full set of dishware. We’re talking real metal silverware kids. As for the plates, melamine has come a LONG way and there are so many cute options now. Just make sure that yours is microwavable as you never know when you want to heat up some leftovers or make a bowl of soup. Yes, you will have to wash them, but there’s just something nice about having something to call your own that is semi-permanent. And besides – you don’t have the space to hoard stacks of paper plates and cups.

Now for some inspiration of some epic dorm room design:

Boho Bold Glam

Boho Glam

Epic

This is probably the most shared, epic dorm room design I’ve ever seen.

Minimal Glam

Minimal Glam

Simple and Classy Room

So simple and easy!  A rug, some art, a pedestal, a plant and a new bookshelf.

Sorority Girl Room

For the bright and bubbly sorority girl

Traditionally Masculin

Traditional and masculin.  Love the suitcases for some under the bed storage!

As you can see, dorm room decorating has come a long way.  So here are two great examples of how to do a blue dorm room, on a budget, in different styles to really make your space your own:

PREPPY FEMININE

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MASCULINE ECLECTIC

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Sand Between My Toes

Summer has officially arrived in LA.  Between Memorial Day and the onset of 90+ temperatures in LA the last few days, I am ready for sundresses, day trips to Hermosa Beach and evening picnics at the Hollywood Bowl.  Although I’m a bigger fan of autumn, there’s always something so exciting about the start of the summer season.

And this year is no exception.  I’m already planning my packing list for Jefe and I’s annual trek east for our August vacation with our respective families.  His family has been gracious enough to host both Jefe and myself the last few years at the beach in Spring Lake, NJ.  It’s a gorgeous, quaint little town on the northern Jersey shore, just an hour train ride for Manhattan.

welcome-to-spring-lake

So today I’m going to share some of the incredible architecture that I get to stare at for a few days every year when we’re making our way 5 blocks from our rental house to the shore.  The town actually became super-popular with the uber-wealthy of New York and Philly during the Gilded Age of the 1910’s and 20’s.

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(via Spring Lake Historical Society)

Some of those original houses are actually still standing.  You’ll notice the second one above is also below, as well as a few others that have been standing since Spring Lake’s hey day:

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And here are just a few gorgeous others that I’ve had my eye on.  They only run five-figures per weekly rental…. or $1 million PLUS for purchase.  I suppose my daydreaming will have to remain just that; but window shopping can’t hurt, right?

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The Victorian inspired architecture is really stunning, particularly in person.  There’s such detail and so many unique architectural features…. I’m starting to feel like Ted Mosby geeking out on buildings.  But there is definitely something to be said for homes whose structure and aesthetic appeal has withstood the test of time, some of whom have lasted over 100 years.  I’d love to sneak inside some of these homes.  Most of the great ones aren’t available for rental, so I unfortunately can’t do any internet snooping for you all.

In addition to the spectacular homes, Spring Lake has an incredible boardwalk.  And we’re not talking about the kind where you fear of running in to Snooki.  Spring Lake’s is simple and a perfectly serene place to take a walk or an early evening jog before dinner… which you just so happen to get stuck on during a thunderstorm… (true story – Jefe and I had to hide under the pavilion near a pool to avoid lightening last year.  But it looked AWESOME.)

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Unfortunately the hurricanes that hit the mid-Atlantic seaboard the last two years took their tolls on the boardwalk, but I have faith that it will look great by the time we arrive this year.

And now that you’re all dreaming of your future beach homes (who knew there were such gorgeous places in Jersey?!), why not deck yourself out like you own the place?  Here’s what I’m thinking….

Spring Lake Summer Style

  1. C.Wonder Wicker Picnic Basket
  2. JCrew Panama Hat in Natural
  3. Baggu Weekend Bag in Sailor Stripe
  4. Jack Rogers Hamptons Classic Navajeo Flats in Gold
  5. C.Wonder Colorblock Stripes Boatneck Tee Dress in Palm/Coastal
  6. Tory Burch Sunglasses in Blue/Green

I really can’t wait for summer vacation.  Almost makes me want to go back to school just for the summers off 😀

In other news, did anyone catch the new show Renovation Raiders that premiered on HGTV tonight?  I am officially obsessed.  Amy Matthews basically has my dream job (and has some rocking red hair).  It’s home design, renovation, and tv production all under a ticking clock: she leads an awesome crew that completely renovates a space in someone’s home in a few hours while they’re out to dinner.  I kind of want to be her.  It’s a shame so many HGTV shows shoot outside of LA (or the US for that matter – those Canadian accents are THICK).

Q & A: The Great Merge – Part 1

Today’s reader Q & A comes from my college roomie, Ali.  Some of my first true interior design projects occured when she and I moved into a cramped room in our sorority house.  It included my first wall paint job (in the perfect buttery yellow) and styling the room with coordinating lamps, bedding and art.  Not to mention finding an appropriate place for the all-so-important mini-fridge and bar.

Since those days that suddenly seem too far away, Ali’s done her fair share of trapsing across the globe.  As a musician, artist, and all-around bohemian extraordinaire, her style is quite eclectic.  Recently she moved in with her boyfriend in Washington, D.C. and she’s encountered the same problem most of us have when taking the plunge into co-habitation with a significant other: the Great Merge of belongings.

Here’s Ali’s request:

Hi Mal!

Here’s some info on a couple of current problem areas (there are several more…) of our new place. As we enter Week 3 of unpacking and merging our belongings, we have most of the big furniture situated and are starting to unearth enough space to hang curtains, and soon some photos/art! 
We need help with storage and textiles in particular. Justin likes to keep an extra blanket on the bed when we’re not home to keep it from getting swathed in dog hair, and we’re in the market for a new one because I don’t like the color of the current one.  Also, the bench cushion is in really rough shape and I’d love to cover it. I know he’d prefer a solid (in corduroy if possible) and I’d love a muted pattern, even though our bedding has stripes. I’d love for it to be a rougher texture – wooly, or woven, or nubby. 
 
We’re trying to stay responsible and not buy new everything, and that’s tricky since my previous style leanings and Justin’s are pretty different. Thankfully nowadays we both agree that we really like the looks that West Elm has going, it’s modern enough for Justin and fits enough with my funky taste (fair isle navajo more patterns yes!) and plethora of instruments.   I have given in to cool colors in the bedroom, although that’s not natural for me. 
 
Here’s a video:
As this is a rather large task, I’ve decided to break this up in to a two-parter.  Today I’ll focus on the bedroom and in our next post we’ll take a look at the dressing room area.
For the bedroom, let’s break this down in to each area to tackle:
  • New throw blanket for their bed
  • New nightstands & lamps
  • Fabric to recover bedroom bench
  • Storage solutions
  • Add some much needed Ali flair in terms of styling

bed

Let’s start with the bedding.  They’re sticking with the above blue-toned striped duvet cover.  Adding another pattern in to this mix will be tough; I’d recommend a solid colored blanket with a woven texture for visual interest and to soften up the hard lines of the current bedding.  Seeing as Ali always prefers warmer colors, I’d go with a chocolate brown to really give it an inviting feel and coordinate with the stripes of the duvet cover.  As this blanket will be used primarily to prevent their dog Dakota from creating his own version of a blanket on the bed, I’d opt for something machine washable.

LLBean Vintage Matelasse Bedding - Chocolate Brown

My recommendation: the LLBean Vintage Matelasse Coverlet in Chocolate Brown.  It meets all of the above criteria and although it’s a little more expensive than something at Target or a comparable big box store (this guy clocks in @ $129 for a queen size), it’s made by a company that prides itself on quality so you know this puppy will last.  They also sell matching pillow shams so Ali could turn it into a true bedding set if she wanted, instead of it just being a barrier between Dakota and the bed.

West Elm Lexington Quilt & Shams

Or for a slightly more modern pattern in a lighter brown, I’d go with the West Elm Lexington Quilt + Shams in Clay would be a nice alternative.

West Elm Embroidered Blue Dot Pillow

To top off the bed, I would finish it with a throw pillow or two.  The West Elm Embroidered Dot Pillow Cover in Dusty Blue is a great option that is simple enough to coordinate with the current bedding, the LL Bean or West Elm coverlets and still gives a bit more of an organic feel to the bed.  The handsewn embroidery with its slightly uneven lines helps to soften the rest of the lines of the bedding.  The blue accent thread will tie in with the blue of the duvet.

Next up are the night stands.  For the left side, once they unpack some more boxes, they’ll have a decent amount of space over there.  As they’re hurting for storage, I would go the untraditional route.  Do NOT buy another nightstand.  I would go more with a cabinet or small dresser that sits at the right height.  It will give them more storage space and Ali a larger tabletop for things like her stacks of books, the lamp, etc.  And by going with something that is more unique, you won’t have to worry about it matching your pre-existing furniture.  My biggest pet peeve is quickly becoming bedroom sets that are too matchy matchy, including my own (what can I say, you live and you learn).

World Market Single Shutter Doors Sideboard

The Single Shutter Doors Holbrook Sideboard from World Market is a perfect example of something totally unique but serves all of the purposes Ali needs.  And it would add some much-needed eclectic style to the room.

Target Threshold Captains Mirror

Then above it, you could always hang a mirror, like this bargain – the Threshold Round Captain’s Mirror from Target (I still can’t believe this is $29.99 – I’m dying to get one for our place) to help reflect light from the nearby window and hang hooks on either side because as Ali puts it “We literally need a place to hang our hats.  We have so many hats!”  Spoken like a true Renaissance woman.

Ikea Bran Lamp

For styling purposes, I’d go with a ridiculously simple lamp on that side of the bed.  The BRÅN base and JÄRA shade from Ikea will do just the trick.  And because it’s basically clear glass and a white shade, there are a ton of ways to customize it if Ali so chooses, such as adding color to the glass base or sprucing up the shade.

On the other side of the bed, you could go with a coordinating lamp such as the Target Room Essentials Solid Shade Ceramic Silver lamp as Ali and Justin prefer more of a brushed silver look.

Target Room Essentials Solid Shade Ceramic Silver Lamp

But back to the nightstands, if Ali decides to work with what she’s got, I would recommend a little DIY.  The easiest trick to perk up those existing pieces is to swap out the knobs.  Anthropologie and even World Market have a TON of options to choose from.

Anthropologie Mini Bubble Glass Knob

Ali could also bust out a can of paint and really customize them to her linking.  She and I were never afraid to get a little dirty (or crazy) back in the day.  Obligatory college photo here:

Mal & Ali

Back to the nightstands again – depending on how crafty Ali wanted to get, I’d recommend something a little like this DIY from Megan over at Craft Habit.

Lastly, Ali definitely wants to get crafty with her bench.  She’d like to recover it with a durable fabric.  I’d recommend something a little heavier weight, such as upholstery fabric.  You could go solid, but I’d take the opportunity to bring in some more organic lines with a subtle pattern, such as the Waverly Strands/Sterling fabric from Joann Fabrics.

Joann Fabric Waverly Strands

So there you have part 1 of Ali & Justin’s GREAT MERGE.  Check back next week for Part 2!  I’ve also included the full mood board below, including a few pieces of art, the curtains, and the run they already own.

Ali's New Bedroom v.2

So what do you guys think?  Anyone else facing the Great Merge these days?  I learned a LOT from when Jefe and I did it– namely that I’m a hoarder and he’s a minimalist.  Somehow we’ve managed to meet in the middle.  For now 😉

Arrggg… A Pirate’s Room For Me

Today I have a special treat for you – SWS’s first kids room!  One of my oldest friends, Kelley, is pregnant with her second child.  As their current nursery is gender neutral, they plan to keep it as is and create a new room for their two-year-old son, Easton.  Kelley was in the preliminary planning stages and mentioned the idea of a pirate themed room for her rambunctious little guy.  So I took the idea and ran with it.

Now a word of warning – themed rooms can be tricky.  You want to incorporate the theme in a way that it is clear what that theme is, but without overpowering the room.  And kids room in particular can be difficult to walk on the right side of that line.  Can anyone say Disney Princess overload???

With that in mind, I’ve created a pirate-themed space that is a little more sophistaced than your average space for a two-year-old.  But what this will allow Kelley to do is a create a room for Easton that he can grow in; he won’t get sick of pirates that quickly with this type of styling.  And if he does, it’s an easy fix to incorporate whatever his next great love will be (Jefe and I are taking bets that it will be baseball…)  It’s truly a room that will grow with him.

So without further ado, I present Easton’s Pirate Room (and please excuse the 3 throw pillow options; I know that’s excessive for a kids room, but I just love them all and couldn’t decide!).  As Kelley’s on a budget, all items are sourced from low-cost home decor options like Ikea, Target and Etsy:

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  1. Target Threshold Carson Bookshelf – Every kids room needs a space for classics like Dr. Seuss
  2. Target Threshold Global Large Milk Crate – Toy storage
  3. Ikea Margareta Rug – What is it about red stripes that make you think pirate?
  4. Little Tykes Play ‘N Scoot Pirate Ship – Obligatory age-appropriate pirate toy
  5. Target Threshold Alicia Round Storage Basket – More storage.  These baskets are amazing.  We have 2 and are huge fans.  They just hold so much stuff.
  6. Rosenberry Rooms Embroidered Pirate Ship Pillow – Ok, so this is pricey for a pillow at $79, but it’s perfect for the room’s style.
  7. Etsy Whale Pillow Cover – A little nautical paraphanalia
  8. Ikea Benzy Land Throw Pillow – Great inexpensive pillow option
  9. BBB Chatham Quilt by Nautica – Great bedding for a boys room that can work for a variety of ages and interests
  10. Etsy Play like a Pirate Poster – I LOVE this art.  I think it perfectly describes a little boy, particularly Easton.
  11. Paper Source Cavallini Hemisphere Map Wrapping Paper – I’ve actually been wanting this to hang above Jefe and I’s long desk if we had the space.  It’s just a giant individual piece of wrapping paper with finished edges.  But it’s on great high-quality paper and feels like an old-school map.

So what do you guys think?  Anyone working on any themed rooms?  Or do you suddenly want to talk like a pirate? (If so, there’s actually a day for that… September 19.  Don’t ask how I know.)