Dorm Decor 101

Source: Ikea

To the dismay of youth and the joy of parents everywhere, that autumnal chill in the air means it’s time to go back to school. For college students moving into dorms, the new school year is an especially exciting and challenging time. Dorm living calls for making the most of a small space, and with all those expensive textbooks to buy, the budget for decor is usually tight. Here are some essentials for surviving shared student living and creating a standout room for the 2012-2013 school year:

  • Invest in a good alarm clock. Now that you’re the master of your own time management, you’ll want a quality (and preferably stylish) alarm clock to help you wake up on the right side of the bed.
  • Push your bed against the wall and add extra pillows to turn your bed into a “couch” by day.
  • Keep an iron and mini-ironing board stored under your bed or in your closet. College is where you learn how to become a professional, and looking the part is the first step.
  • Create an inspiration board featuring mementos and photos of family and friends to bring a little bit of home with you and keep you in good spirits.
  • Consider hanging a wall tapestry to add color and personality to your room if your building does not allow paint.
  • Warm up cold floors with a decorative rug. Talk to your roommate about which colors or style of rug will coordinate best with your decor. Natural fiber rugs are a good compromise if you and your roommate have different tastes.
  • Brighten up your room with a reading lamp. Harsh fluorescent lighting is not ideal for studying, so you may want to invest in a table lamp for those late-night reading sessions.
  • Use desk organizers to keep clutter in control. Scattered papers and a messy environment can cause distraction and stress.
  • To make your room feel bigger, think vertical. Make the most of your ceiling height and use tall bookshelves, or consider lofting your bed, to maximize your living space.
  • Keep storage baskets uniform in color and style to help them blend into your decor.
  • For additional storage, consider self storage. If your dorm room can’t hold everything you need, such as musical instruments, sports gear, books, art supplies or bulky stuff, check out your local self storage centers. They may offer a student rate and will keep your belongings safe and secure for when you need them.


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Fall Gardening: Extend Your Curb Appeal

Whether you have a front yard, a stoop, a window box or a fire escape, you can enhance the look of your home with flowers and foliage. Curb appeal is especially important if your home is on the market. As summer fades into fall, don’t settle for the muted browns of dying greenery. Try these hardy plants to keep your garden looking great well into the cooler months.

  • Florist mums
  • Ornamental cabbage or kale
  • Autumn ferns
  • Fountain grass
  • Fall-blooming aster
  • Variegated ivy
  • Sweet autumn clematis
  • Goldenrod
  • Russian sage
  • Helenium
  • Sedum
  • Anise hyssop
  • Alberta spruce

Also, consider adding pumpkins, gourds, haystacks and dried leaf wreaths. Avoid too much holiday decor if you are trying to sell your home, as scarecrows and ghosts may send the wrong message.

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The Creeps Next Door: How to Handle Bad Neighbors

If you can keep your disagreements civil, there's a good chance the problem won't escalate.

Your home is supposed to be your sanctuary, but when annoying neighbors are being nosy, noisy or nasty, your abode can quickly feel uncomfortable. Don’t lose sleep over the negativity next door–before you do something you might regret, check out these tips to help you cope.


  • Set an example: Although your initial reaction to an irritating neighbor may be to lash out, consider taking the high road instead. Your neighbor may be looking for attention, so if you ignore them or respond with kindness, that may diffuse the situation.
  • Confront the issue: Tell your neighbor what’s bothering you, but approach them with civility. If you bang on the door and begin screaming, expect that they will return the hostility. Be direct and, if possible, propose a solution.
  • Document the problem: If an issue persists, such as harassment, jot down notes of time and place, and take photos if necessary. You may need this details if you choose to report them to your property manager or the police.
  • Report them: Reach out to your landlord or neighborhood association and tell them what’s going on. Specify the disruptions and/or violations and reference the rules or laws in your region. Other residents may have had similar problems with your bad neighbors and can help you take action.
  • Know your rights: If your neighbor’s actions are negatively affecting your quality of life, check with your local housing authority to see what kind of leverage you have. If your neighborly dispute involves code violations, the city might solve your problem for you.
  • Call the authorities: If you sense danger or illegal activity, or your neighbor’s problems are affecting your well-being, it’s time to get the police involved. Your neighbor will hopefully realize that you are taking this seriously and the problem will be on police record.
  • Moving on: Moving out is always an option, but it should remain very low on the list because you’ve done nothing to earn that burden. However, it may be less costly than taking legal action against your neighbor and you have to do what is best for you and your loved ones.


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The Importance of a Good Lock

Before moving your valuable belongings into a self storage unit or a mobile storage container, you will want to purchase a sturdy lock to protect against theft or vandalism. There are many different types of locks to choose from. Most storage facilities give you the option to purchase a lock from them or buy one on your own. While standard padlocks or combination padlocks are more affordable options, they can be easily broken or picked. Wondering which type of lock is best for your needs? Here are two varieties of secure locks to consider:

Closed-shackle padlocks

These look like your standard padlock, with one notable exception. The shackle (the U-shaped bar at the top of the lock) is particularly short and thick, and it’s protected by an outside casing. This makes it difficult for bolt-cutters to reach. If a padlock is your general preference, be sure to choose a closed-shackle model. Most brands retail for $10-$15.

Disc locks

Disc locks are the most popular self-storage locks, as they are resiliently strike-proof, drill-proof and pick-proof. They have a thickly built shackle that fits tightly around your storage unit door latch, making it difficult for anyone to jam bolt-cutters into the lock. Made of heavy-duty stainless steel, disc locks feature a lock mechanism that includes anti-pick pins. Breaking these locks takes full-on electrical equipment, and a whole lot of time and effort. The average retail price for a disc lock is $50.

Though many consider disc locks the industry standard, they are incompatible with some storage unit door latches. Call your facility in advance to ask if you can use a disc lock. If you can’t, they will likely sell you an alternative lock.

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Stay Cool: 10 Hot Weather Moving Tips

When the mercury soars on moving day, hot weather can ignite your stress levels. Whether you’re the one doing the heavy lifting or you are overseeing a team of friends or professional movers, you will want to take extra precautions to avoid overexertion. Here are some guidelines to prevent heat-related injuries on moving day:

  1. Stay hydrated. Have plenty of chilled fluids on hand for yourself and your moving crew. Avoid caffeine and alcoholic drinks, as these can be dehydrating. Water and electrolyte replacement drinks are your best bet.
  2. Have easy-to-grab snacks available. Even though the heat may decrease your appetite, you still need to replace the salts your body loses through sweat and exertion. Eat a salty snack when you take a break to drink.
  3. Start early. If possible, start your move first thing in the morning so that you are not doing the most physical part of your move during peak heat (11 a.m-4 p.m.) If you are moving with a moving company, call in advance to see if your move can be changed to an earlier time.
  4. Dress light and wear sunscreen. Wear lightweight, light-colored and loose-fitting clothing. Dark colors will attract heat. Sunburns will only make you feel hotter and more uncomfortable.
  5. Wear comfortable shoes. Even though you may prefer to wear sandals or flip flops, sneakers or other comfortable shoes are a much safer choice on moving day.
  6. Be careful with items that are sensitive to heat. Make sure electronics, computer equipment, artwork and any other items that can be damaged by heat are not left out for long periods in direct sunlight.
  7. Keep children, pets and the elderly inside and cool.
  8. Make sure the air conditioning and fans will be working in your new home.
  9. Know the signs of heat exhaustion. These may include headaches, dizziness, muscle weakness or spasms, thirst, or fatigue, and lack of sweating. These symptoms can escalate into rapid heartbeat, vomiting, and changes in consciousness, high body temperature and drop in blood pressure. If yourself or anyone working with you on moving day experiences any of these symptoms, stop what you are doing, go inside, sip cold water and seek medical attention.
  10. Have an extra outfit handy. Chances are you will be sweaty and fatigued from the heat once you arrive at your new home. Have a clean outfit, towel and toiletries packed with you so that you can easily take a well-deserved shower without rummaging through all of your boxes.
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