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Think Small and Think Practical


When it comes to furnishing a dorm room, it's easy to get carried away by colorful plastic gadgets at the bed and bath store. But the reality is, there's no space.

As a one-year veteran of student housing, I've learned that I should have left that suction cup shower caddy on the shelf.

You need to think small when shopping because that's what you'll get, space-wise. Most dorm rooms are 185 to 230 square feet, and you have to share that with a roommate or two.

Here are some things to consider leaving behind:

* Stand-up clothes hamper. There won't be any room for it. However, you will need something to lug all those clothes back and forth from the laundry room. Instead, try a basket that can fit under your bed or a laundry bag you can hang in your closet.

* Inflatable chairs, ottomans, bean bags and such. You will barely have enough room for yourself and your roommate, much less visitor seating. Your beds and the floor will become your couches.

* Clothes-drying rack. Sounds like a great idea, but no room. Just make use of the things you already have to air-dry clothes, such as ledges or hooks around the room.

* Ironing boards. I've never owned anything that needed to be ironed, although I'm sure my mom would disagree. I've seen the festively patterned boards on sale now, and they're cute, but remember that space thing.

* Night stands, dressers and other miscellaneous furniture. Your school should supply desks and dressers, and as good an idea as a small bedside table is, forget it. You can also leave behind those little lamps with the leopard-print shades. What you will need is a more functional desk lamp with a swing arm to brighten your space when your roommate is sleeping and you're pulling an all-nighter.

* Suction-cup items. They look so practical, but end up not really working. The suction-cup shower caddy item never stuck for me, and it ended up as a hairbrush holder that lived on my desk.

* A stereo. Almost everyone I knew in the dorms used their computers for music-listening. With MP3s and a built-in CD player, not to mention the good sound system today's computers have, you might find that you don't need that stereo anymore.

Leave room for a telephone answering machine, small television, compact refrigerator and alarm clock.

Meghan O'Dell, a graduate of Villa Park High, survived her freshman year in Santa Rosa Hall at UC Santa Barbara and is now embarking on her sophomore year and apartment living.

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