Furnishings 101: Making a House a Home – Off to College You Go
Welcome to Harley Butler Trading Company, and to the second installment in our blog series, “Furnishings 101: Making a House a Home.”
In this installment, we are going to divert just a bit and consider making an apartment, or dorm room, a home. Though we are not quite halfway through summer, time is nearing when college-bound students will be planning and shopping for the big move to, or back to, their college apartment or dorm. And every student will want to personalize their space, to the extent the school or apartment complex allows, with paint, wall art, lamps, bedding, and whatever else the imaginative and creative mind conjures. Most dorms will have their standard well-worn furniture, or perhaps updated modular pieces allowing for some alternative configurations. Those moving into apartments or rent houses, well, there is much more to consider.
Whether you are a college-bound student, or mom and dad getting ready to send your first off to college, there is plenty here to consider.
Define Your Space – Define Your Style
Yes, it is college, a time of transition, in education, world-perspectives, maturity, and also style. Whether a dorm room or a bedroom in a shared apartment, it is your space, your home away from home. And as you move through your time in school, your tastes in how you decorate your space will change.
Let’s first consider the dorm room, as most of the furniture you need will be provided. But you still have some options to define your room to your personality. Maybe a good colorful, decorative table lamp with directed light for studying. A lamp with a three-way switch works well to provide some nice ambient room lighting on the lower setting, and accommodates the higher wattage for studying. Or a floor lamp with flexible neck so the light can be better directed for reading or tasks, like homework. Use a soft white or warm bulb to offset the harshness of fluorescent lighting which so many dorm rooms have.
Staying organized is vital. If this is your first year, the new experience will be very exciting, and perhaps a bit hectic. Having a place for everything makes college life easier. Use the space under the bed efficiently with large, flat plastic storage containers. Not only does it make packing and transporting easier, it will keep dirt and liquids, like the occasional mopping on non-carpeted floors, from damaging clothes or anything else.
Also consider a side table with drawers or a tall chest for the closet, if not already provided. Think multi-purpose. A storage bench provides not only storage inside or below, but a place to stack books, and extra seating for when everyone gathers in your room. Make it easy to pack in the trailer with buying Ready-To-Assemble (RTA) from Southern Enterprises. The furniture comes in flat boxes which makes loading in cars or trailers much easier, carrying up stairs or getting into crowded elevators less bulky, and assembly is easy. There are many styles and colors from which to choose, fitting in to your dorm now, then your off-campus apartment, then your first place when you start your career. Affordable, stylish, and efficient. Just what the college student needs.
How about a lateral file cabinet from Hooker Furniture? Yes, a file cabinet. Lateral. Short in stature, long in function.The drawers open up possibilities for clothing storage, or extra pillows or linens, snack foods, even shoes! And with locking drawers, add a bit of privacy and security. Available in a variety of sizes and finishes, they offer function and durability, something you can use for many years. Even your first office.
Coordinate with your roommate-to-be ahead of time and, depending on the room layout, decide who brings what. Having extra pieces of functional furniture is great, but too much from both roommates is crowding and overwhelming. Your dorm room needs to be a place to relax, focus, and enjoy.
Making It Your Own, Place
Now for the apartment or rent house. If the off-campus apartment or rent house is the first real place of your own, then consider making it your own. You not only have your bedroom to furnish, but also the common area. As with the dorm room, coordinate with your roommate-to-be and decide on who brings what. While you don’t want to be overwhelmed with too much furniture, you also don’t need the stress of two sofas and no dining table.
With more space comes more options. First, the bedroom. Your domain. Maybe you are bringing your furniture from home. That’s great. Complement those pieces and that style with something new, even one piece. That gives your room the feeling of newness. You don’t have to have all the furniture look the same, you should blend in a contrasting shade or color. Give the space dimension without crowding.
If you are starting anew, select furniture that fits the space, is of quality, and that you see yourself using post-college. The transition thing. Think value. Medium to long term value. Buying too inexpensive now may mean it does not hold up through or past college, which means you will have to come out of pocket to replace it sooner than you, or your parents, planned. And that just may not fit into the budget. Yes, it is a balancing act, so start with what you will use most. The bed. Something stylish and durable. Consider just a headboard which can be attached to the frame. That adds a touch of sophistication, does not take up a lot of space, immediately adds dimension and focus to the room, and is affordable. Check out Padmas Plantation or Bramble for headboards. Looking for a metal frame bed? Then look to Wesley Allen which offers headboards alone, as well as the complete bed with frame and footboard.
Moving on to the common areas of dining and living. As with the discussion on dorm rooms, think multi-purpose. You will undoubtedly have friends gather, so seating will be in demand. Benches with storage below are a great choice. Coffee tables, not so much. But coffee tables bring people together, so select one with functionality and style. Dovetail has several industrial-look options, and Southern Enterprises has cocktail tables with storage. How much room is there? How much do you think you will entertain and how many? A good sofa not only seats several, but gives you a place to stretch out and relax. Or study. A fabric or leather sofa? There are pros and cons to each. Upholstered sofas are less expensive than leather, but easily stained and will wear faster. Leather is usually more expensive, but is more durable to frequent use and with proper care, will last longer and age gracefully. Regardless, you will also need a chair or two, but don’t overwhelm the room with too many large, overstuffed recliners.
Dining. Yes, you can eat on the sofa watching TV. Or you can select a sturdy dining table that also serves as a group study center or impromptu desk, board game table when friends are over, or buffet setup for the occasional party. Not to mention the dining chairs that can be pulled into the living area when entertaining.
And speaking of entertaining, an entertainment center. Multi-purpose. A place not only for the television, but storage. Storage for you and your roommate. Room to stack books or backpacks. Space is most likely a premium, so avoid open leg tables for the entertainment center. Shelves, either open or with cabinet doors. Credenzas or consoles fit the bill with storage and having the space for the TV. Even the lateral file cabinet idea from above to use as a TV stand plus efficient storage. Or place at the end of the sofa and you not only have storage, you have an end table that fits the end of the sofa. Enough room for an accent lamp, and especially handy for snack trays during those refined college parties.
Maybe also consider a bookcase where you and your roommate can keep your textbooks and other small items that would otherwise accumulate on the coffee or dining table and take up valuable space. It could be a tall, traditional bookcase, or a small one to place in your closet. Serves as a place for your books, but also to stack T-shirts or get shoes off the floor. Efficient use of space and multi-purpose. Brilliant!
Plan for Now and the Future
College life is a transition period. You are choosing a path for your future career, a lifestyle, and taking on more personal responsibility. Furniture is an expression of your personality. Think about where you want to be in five years and begin to define your style. Disposable furniture, while inexpensive, is just that. Disposable. Temporary. Not serious. Quality furniture conveys a sense of value, permanence, seriousness. Now is the time to experiment with styles and trends so balance what you need for your college space with what you can afford, adding the better quality pieces gradually. It is a process, not an event. As you make this journey, we hope you will look to Harley Butler Trading Company for your furnishing needs now and down the line, allowing us the opportunity to answer your questions and provide guidance as you define your personal style. We look forward to a long–term relationship of helping you acquire the furnishings for your home, work and life.
We hope we have helped spark an inspiration for your style. Look through our online store for more ideas. If you don’t see that something you are searching for, email Customer-Care@HarleyButler.com or call us at (469)629-8014. Our designers will be very pleased to help you refine your ideas and locate those furnishings to complete your vision.
Harley Butler Trading Company, LLC
Furnishings for home, work and life