The College Dorm Room Checklist

It's that time of the year. You're either going back to school or heading to campus for the first time. If you're moving into your first dorm or off-campus apartment, you'll want to make the most out of your space -- and make sure it's the place to be. Think smart and get started with a college dorm checklist. 

Plan Ahead

While you may not be moving in for a couple of weeks, think ahead. Moving in while juggling classes, activities, and parties is no fun. There are three things you can do beforehand to make sure you're not opening up boxes and books at the same time. 

  1. See if you can get a floorplan for your dorm or apartment ahead of time -- either from your college residence life or your landlord. Or, take measurements. You may think your space is bigger (or smaller!) than it actually is. And you might end up with too much or, too little furniture. You may find that you can fit a queen-size bed and a sofa. Or that your space is smaller, and a loft bed will do the trick. There are also great apps to help you plan out your space such as Floorplanner
  2. Figure out what you need. You'll most likely need a bed, a place to do work, and of course, a place to hang out with friends. 
  3. Order furniture online now. Why? Because you'll want to make sure the furniture has time to arrive and you have everything settled before classes start. 

College Dorm Furniture

Make the Best of a Small Space

You'll most likely be moving into a smaller space. But don't worry, you can make the most of it! Here's a tip: when you're laying out your furniture, try and place larger items against the wall. That way you'll have more open space for friends and fun. And invest in multi-function pieces such as bunkbeds with work stations underneath, like the All-In-One Loftbed. Or a futon, which is perfect for lounging with books during the week -- and great for having friends over on the weekends. Get something versatile such as the Phyllo Futon Sofa Bed. Another great option for additional seating is the Four Corners Cocktail Table with Benches so you can have even more friends over (for all those study sessions).

Don't Forget Storage

If you're moving into your first dorm room, you might not know what to expect. Most dorm rooms are low on storage. For example, you might have a 3 ft. wide closet that you have to share with your roommate! And you'll use all that storage for books, clothing, laundry, and bathroom accessories. Opt for items like the Tania Nesting Ottomans which provides extra seating, storage, and snacking space. 

Have Fun

It's your first “on-your-own” space. Have fun with it! And make sure it's a reflection of you and your personality.

Products (left to right): All-In-One LoftbedFour Corners Cocktail Table, Colette Full Sleeper SofaTania Nesting OttomansPhyllo Futon Sofa Bed.

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Living Room Fabric Options for Kids and Pets

Many parents or pet owners are hesitant to replace their old living room chairs or sofa, thinking it would be better to wait until the children are older or the puppies and kittens are all grown up. But you can have your family – furry friends and all – and a new living room design too! Some fabrics are more conducive to the wear and tear of these specific family members, and choosing such a fabric for your living room upholstery will give you all furniture that you can live with.

Leather Living Room Furniture

A leather sofa or living room chair is a fantastic choice for a number of reasons. It is very durable and comfortable. Leather furniture will contour to the shape of your body when you sit on it but will also keep its shape. You can easily clean any spills or smudges with a damp cloth, and it doesn't attract pet hair. And, as asked in the Moms Write Stuff blog, “Who in his right mind wouldn’t want to sit in the lap of luxury? One way to do that is by choosing leather furniture.”
 
Microfiber Living Room Furniture

Microfiber is another fantastic option for your living room upholstery. This fabric has a seemingly flat weave, so your pets won’t easily get their claws stuck in anything by simply jumping on the furniture (which can be the case with some textured fabrics). And its smooth, tight feel makes microfiber easy to clean, however, you may need to use microfiber-specific cleansers, because the bleach and fabric softeners found in some household cleansers could damage the microfiber over time.

If you do fall in love with a living room set that is not upholstered in a durable fabric, like leather or microfiber, all is not lost. You might be able to treat the fabric for durability, however, be careful and consult manufacturer instructions – this could impact the fabric’s feel.

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5 Sofas Under $500

A new sofa refreshes the look of your living room -- it can also completely change the style of the room. If you're in the market for a new sofa and want to update your living room, you don't need to spend a ton of money to get the style and quality you're looking for. We've pulled together five of our favorite sofas that you can bring home for less than $500. 

Casino Leather Sofa

Get the on-trend look of furniture design’s modern masterpieces with the Casino leather sofa. With a nod to mid-century style, this piece has an architecturally-inspired silhouette with wide track arms and box-style seat and back cushions, covered in classic white bonded leather. Tufted details on the seat add a graceful touch and keep the look from being too modern, while cantilevered chrome legs add sculptural flair. Attached seat cushions and velcro-adhered back cushions ensure the look is always crisp and clean. And this sofa is just $449.  

Casino Leather Sofa

Colette Sofa

Give your living room a fashionable touch with the crisply tailored Colette sofa. Sloping rolled arms, classic box seat cushions and knife-edge back cushions all feature finely constructed welted detailing. The heathered gray herringbone upholstery provides a dignified background for the fashion-forward fabrics on the accent pillows. Neither too masculaine nor too feminine, this comfortable sofa will showcase your good taste! And it's just $499.

Colette Sofa

Griffin Sofa

Sink into dreamy comfort with the Griffin sofa. Deep seat cushions and back pillows are covered in chestnut-hued, plush textured chenille, contrasting with warm chocolate faux leather on the base and arms. A wide woven accent fabric in delicious tones of cinnamon and cafe au lait complete the lush and inviting color palette. Flared arms, four toss pillows, tapered legs and welted detailing round out the enticing effect. And it's only $399. 

Griffin Sofa

Palmer 92" Sofa

The Palmer 92" sofa offers an enviable combination for your home — it's the perfect blend of long-lasting comfort and fashion! The style is casually contemporary, but with features that stand the test of time: easygoing roll arms, welted seat cushions and simply angled wood feet. Premium foam cores and sinuous seat springs work overtime to keep you relaxed, while the red finish exudes a certain visual energy. The accent pillows sport classic stripes and French script for a perfect dose of effortless decorating appeal. And it's available in other options, for just $499.

Palmer Sofa

Stoked Sofa

There's something exciting about the Stoked sofa, whose inviting style and contemporary look will add energy to any well-designed space. Featuring deep seating and a scatter back design, this collection boasts welted track arms and slightly tapered wedge feet for a clean and fashionable aesthetic. One coordinating fabric with a bold circle pattern and a second in rich brown corduroy add to the modern appeal. The loose, reversible back pillows allow you to customize the look and your seating comfort. And it's yours for $399. 

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Q&A: Designing with a Long Living Room

Question

I just bought a small condo and I am looking to buy living room furniture. My dilemma is the size and shape of the room. It’s oblong and I’m trying to maximize my seating. How can I best arrange the room to have the most seating but not just put all the furniture against the wall? — Teresa, Delray, FL

Answer

This is a question that our Design Experts are often asked. In a perfect home, a living room space is more square, but many dwellers face the challenge of the oblong living room. Especially in a smaller-sized condo, you want to get the most out of your space with seating, comfort, and decor. At the same time, you don’t want guests to feel cramped. Fortunately these longer, narrow living room spaces are a blessing in disguise and there are several ways to make it work. Think about what you’re using the room for. Do you entertain frequently? Are you looking to relax? With a longer living room, you have the opportunity to break up the space into sections. Here’s a good rule of thumb: the main area should take up 3/4 the space while the smaller area, such as a reading nook, dining area, additional seating, etc. fills up the rest.  

For a combined living and dining room, shift the focus of the space to entertaining and mix similar furniture lines and colors. This will help tie the two sections together. For example, pairing the Alcove table and Alcove chairs with the Paris Collection sofa and loveseat to maximize seating while allowing for foot traffic. For a more formal living room look, opt for a wider sofa with two opposing chairs. For example, pair the Colette Collection sofa with two Colette Collection accent chairs. This arrangement is perfect if you have a TV or fireplace across from the sofa as the main focal point.Or, if you’re looking to relax in the space, create a reading nook with either one or two chairs on the opposite side of the room. 

Helpful Tips

  • Draw up a floorplan of the space to see what types of furniture you can fit, and where. 
  • Look for longer rugs that will fill the room to visually tie the sections together. 
  • Match your largest furniture item (most likely a sofa) with your longest wall for space efficiency. 
  • Bring your sofa about two inches out from the wall to add an illusion of more space. 
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A New Year, a New Look for Your Home

As you set your new year’s resolutions for 2013, don’t forget about your home. No matter where you live, 2013 should be the year you turn your space into a home you love! Whether you’re looking to refurnish every room or just want to freshen things up, these expert tips will help you get started:

Take Stock of What You Have

Walk through your home and consider your current furnishings and accessories. Even if you’re planning to buy an entire new set of living room furniture, it doesn’t mean everything in your living room has to go. Perhaps the end tables can find new life as nightstands in your guest room or the overstuffed accent chair would be perfect for creating a reading nook by your bedroom window. Create a list of the pieces you want to continue to use as you do today, those you would like to repurpose and those you want to remove altogether. Then create a list by room of other furnishings you might need. This will be important for prioritizing whether you want to shop for a new sofa or a new bedroom set first.

Rearrange Your Furniture

Sometimes what your home needs is some reorganization to give it the feel of a makeover. For example, your bedroom could be completely transformed by relocating your bed or even placing furnishings on a pleasing angle. This will create an artful look and completely refresh any tired configurations you’ve set up in your home.

Revisit Lighting and Window Treatments

Don’t force your beautiful decor to hide behind bad lighting. Consider how you use each space and then light it appropriately. Play around with different pieces of lighting and bulbs to find the right brightness for each space. A dimmer, for example, could be the perfect upgrade to take your dining room furniture to the next level for entertaining. And while you’re at it, be sure your windows are dressed in a way to accentuate your decor while also letting in or obscuring light as needed.

Consider Color

Color can dramatically change the look of any room. Whether you choose to paint the wall or bring in colorful new accent furniture, you will enjoy instant results. Don’t be afraid to go bold, but experiment slowly if this is something new for you and your home.

Remember: You Can Start Small
 
Rome wasn’t built in one day and neither will a new look for your home. But if you take it one room and step at a time, perhaps rearranging furniture today and adding a new accent table to your foyer tomorrow, you’ll be living in your dream home before you know it!

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10 Tips for Decorating Your Home on a Budget

Nothing turns a space into a home like filling it with items and furnishings you love, assembled in a style that is truly your own. Whether you’re moving into a new home or redecorating the one you already have, this is a very exciting time that can really improve your quality of life. But it’s also a time when your wants may not align with what your wallet can allow.

But don’t worry – you can have a beautiful home without breaking your budget. Our 10 tips cover everything from setting your spending limits to multifuctional pieces to help  you get the most for your money. So get started!

Tip #1: Create a budget, either for the entire living space or by individual room. Then make a list of what you have, what you need and what you’d like to upgrade. This will help you to prioritize the project and may shed light on the fact that you could repurpose your nightstand as an end table for the time being.

Tip #2: Brainstorm on how you would like to decorate each room, and then narrow down each space to one or two solid ideas. This way, all of your furniture and accessories can work toward these primary themes for a cohesive look.

Tip #3: You don’t have to furnish your entire home at once. Versatile pieces, such as dining chairs, can float between rooms -- from dining to the home office, to the living room when you’re entertaining guests.

Tip #4: Look for a beautiful bed to be your bedroom’s centerpiece and make the room feel complete. You can add everything else-- dressers, chests and nightstands -- over time. And don’t be afraid to mix and match -- an eclectic mix will make your home cozy and unique.

Tip #5: Think outside the house when it comes to decorative accents. You’ll bring unique style to your home by decorating with garden ornaments, architectural elements and old building parts. They’re often cheap and always distinctive. Check salvage yards and antique stores for great finds.

Tip #6: Use a bookcase in your dining room to store and display china and serving pieces. Later, when you upgrade to a china cabinet or sideboard, you can easily use the bookcase in another area of your home.

Tip #7: Create your own artwork. You can frame anything, from a beautiful leaf to a photo from last year’s wall calendar, and voila, you have art! For inexpensive frames, look in discount stores for framed prints. Remove the back (needle-nose pliers are terrific for pulling out large staples) and replace what was in the frame with your own masterpiece.

Tip #8: Choose a dining room table that will give you choices down the line. For example, choosing a smaller scale table or one with a removable expansion leaf might allow you to use the table in your kitchen or another room should you decide to replace it.

Tip #9: Go ahead and accept hand-me-down furnishings, but only if you really like them. An unwanted dinosaur won’t inspire your imagination the way an empty room can. Don’t be afraid to live with the open space for a while and consider the room you’d really like to create.

Tip #10: Sell furnishings you don’t like or no longer have a need for at a consignment shop or online. Then you can use the money you make for the furniture you really want!

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Designed for Living: Creating a Functional, Fabulous Living Room

We spend a lot of time in our living rooms -- entertaining, unwinding, even working! So you need to create an environment with the versatility to please everyone who will use it. Living room furniture that has both a relaxed feel and a touch of elegant, sophisticated style is always a great choice to meet today's varied needs. A well-designed living room can both please your guests and be durable and comfortable enough for everyday occasions.

Leather Furniture: A Look – And Feel – That Lasts

Leather does not have to be a luxury item any longer. You can now find a wide variety of stylish leather living room furniture at prices that will suit any budget. Leather furniture not only provides luxury and comfort, but it’s durable and stands up to family wear and tear. Choose a style that’s long-lasting as well. Look for details such as rolled arms, nailhead trim and double-padded seats to get the most for your dollar.

Make Room For Everyone

Entertaining a large crowd withou a lot of space? Try a sectional sofa! A small sectional can offer as much seating as a sofa and loveseat or chairs, but it physically takes up less space and your room appear larger overall. Whether you are watching the big game or hosting a formal cocktail party, sectional sofas are a practical alternative to traditional living room seating. Features such as modular sections, a reversible chaise and sleepers can maximize your investment.

Accents That Work

Don’t forget the right accent pieces can help pull a living room together and make it functional for all sorts of activities. Proper lighting will allow for reading on the couch, playing games and watching TV. Accent tables with drawers help to keep things neat and tidy, and an oversized cocktail ottoman creates even more seating in a pinch -- or you can add a tray and it becomes a cocktail table.

Remember: Making your living room fun and functional will make everyone happy to be at home!

 

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Choosing the Best Sectional Sofa for Your Living Room

If you're bored of the traditional sofa and loveseat combination but still want enough seating for family and friends, a sectional sofa is a smart buy. To help you find the best sectional for you among the dozens of options, it's best to look at your space and how you and your guests will be using it.

The TV Room: Time to Recline

Got a 60" HDTV on the wall? Surround sound? Mini fridge? If you have all of these in your room, you need a sectional that will keep your guests comfortable while they watch the game or the latest blockbuster. The must-haves are reclining seats, leather upholstery and seating for as many people as the room allows. Looking for something extra special? You'll find a wide array of bonus features in motion sectionals including massage features, cupholders and even hidden storage for snacks. Your home will soon become the most popular place on the block for the Sunday games.   

The Family Room: Time to Chat

Maybe the TV is in the rumpus room in the basement, but you have a family room where everyone gathers to play board games, read a good book, or just hang out and chat. This room needs a sectional that's spacious, stylish and comfortable. An important consideration is whether you need flexibility in this area for parties and larger gatherings. If so, consider a modular sectional so you can rearrange the configuration on a whim, and don't forget an ottoman or two to use as extra seating.

The Main Living Room: Time to Impress

Want the wow factor when you walk into your living room every evening? Splurge on a sleek, modern leather sectional and transform your space into an urban oasis. Black is safe, but white will really make a statement -- and leave more room for colorful accents that can change with the seasons. This space may look like its for adults only, but remember leather is durable and easy to clean, so it's still a smart option.    

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5 Tips for Buying the Right Sofa for Your Living Room

The sofa is the centerpiece of your living room design. This single piece of living room furniture could end up being the most used item in your entire home. You want it to be beautiful and functional. Follow our five tips to bring home a sofa that embraces your style and creates the perfect look for your room.

Sofa Size: What Will Fit in Your Room?

You really can’t start shopping for your new sofa until you’ve measured and determined the maximum dimensions your room and doorways can handle. Nothing will ruin your day like watching the delivery people take back the sofa you had fallen in love with because it won’t fit into your home. Standard sofa widths can vary from 74 to 90 inches, so know your space limitations before you begin shopping.

Sofa Style Is Not About Stealing the Show

Since your sofa will likely be the largest piece of furniture in your living room, you may want to exercise some restraint in the pattern you choose. Think method actor, like Robert Deniro, rather than something over-the-top, say, like Channing Tatum. Your sofa will be a foil for everything else in the room, so choose a color and pattern that all your other furniture and accessories can play off of.

Remember the Classics

There is more to the look of your sofa than its fabric. When considering your sofa's silhouette and shape, remember that there’s a reason some furniture designs are considered classic – it is because they have stood the test of time. In a few months, you don’t want to hate your living room because it looks dated. Styles like the club sofa, the camelback or the chesterfield, for example, will help you create a smart, timeless look.

Think Inside the Box for Sofa Cushions

Much like a mattress, sofa cushions benefit from regular flipping. When possible, choose a sofa that has fully reversible cushions with supportive box construction. This will help your sofa keeps it shape and will limit the amount of sagging that makes a sofa look old before its time.

Or Maybe It’s Not a Sofa at All

There is no rule that living rooms have to have a sofa. Depending on the look you are going for and the size of your living room, other seating options might better meet your needs. You could consider grouping together four club chairs or opting for a couple of loveseats.

Buying your new sofa can be an investment of time and money. We hope these five tips make it an enjoyable and rewarding investment for you.

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3 Furniture Tips For Small-Scale Living

Many homes call for smaller-scale furniture -- Chicago and New York apartments, historic houses in New England, vacation condos in Florida, etc. -- but that doesn't mean the design aesthetic has to be small, too. Small space design is all about making the space feel larger. In general, furniture that is simply styled, low and lean will provide an open and airy feeling. Here are three practical tips for how you can decorate your small living space to have big style.

Flexible Furnishings

Versatile furniture that can be rearranged on a whim, like a sofa with reversible chaise, is invaluable. Such living room furniture lets you create unique seating arrangements to match your needs. Another option is to have multiple smaller pieces. For example, a loveseat and two accent chairs, will give you more options in arranging seating than a sofa alone. Choosing stylish armless chairs will make the best use of a smaller space.

Think Outside the Box

Small space living requires resourcefulness and looking at furniture in different ways. The perfectly scaled dresser for your bedroom may be in the kids' furniture department. Today, many kids' bedroom collections have a more grown-up style to transition with the child as he grows. You'll still be able to find furnishings with a clean, modern look that would fit in with your other bedroom furniture. Don't let labels limit you -- if it works for your space, that's all that matters!

Fewer Pieces, Better Budget

An unexpected fringe benefit of small space living is that you'll need fewer pieces so you may be able to stretch your budget to include a splurge or two. One such splurge is also a good investment: a bed with storage drawers.  When you live in a home with limited closet space – typical of those New York and Chicago apartments mentioned above – furniture with built-in storage is a huge plus. Beds with storage come in many different styles today, from modern to more traditional. While a storage bed may cost more than other styles, it will prove invaluable not only in a small home, but any home -- there's no such thing as too much storage!

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