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Over the past week, almost certainly you or someone you know moved into a dorm room. There are a lot of stigmas surrounding dorms, but honestly, they can be a really important part of the whole post-secondary education experience. Some of the best friends you’ll leave university or college with will be ones you made in dorms.
StudyingThere are the frosh week activities, the floor movie nights, the parties and get-togethers—when you’re in a dorm, everyone around you is in the same boat in terms of classes, late-night library study sessions, frantic paper-writing into the wee hours of the morning; it’s a whole new adventure, and the people around you are embarking on it too… Beyond that, the dorm is home for the school year ahead.
Yes, many of them may seem a little wanting in terms of comfort and style. Usually, you’ve got four very blank walls, a small, reasonably comfortable bed, a desk, a shelf, a strangely firm chair, and hopefully a window. Know what this is? The perfect backdrop for you to temporarily transform the space into your own.
Because when you move out next spring, there’s an inspection and you’ll be held accountable for any damage, you want to personalize the space in a way that isn’t going to leave any lasting remnants on the room itself. Painting is out (unless your RA okays it and you agree to paint it out again before your move-out date; but honestly, you’re going to be so busy in the next couple of weeks that painting your walls will not even be on your radar).
So what to do with these four stark walls that are making you think of a prison cell? The options are surprisingly endless!
First you have art—framed prints, dry-mounted prints, tin art, and tradition dictates that you buy and hang at least one poster from the annual fall poster sale your campus will hold (seriously—you need a poster. It’s like a rite of passage).
Avoid using nails as much as possible (you’ll need to fill those before your final inspection); instead, pick up some easy-stick wall hooks. They’re specifically made for hanging things without damaging walls, and they’re easy to take down when the time comes.
I also recommend purchasing a few of the larger temporary wall hooks—one for your robe (which you’ll want for the daily march through the halls to the shared showers), one for your towel (it needs to hang up to dry), and one for your coat on those rainy and snowy days when it’s damp by the time you land in your dorm.
floral wall artAnother fresh way to decorate your dorm walls is with the awesome new selection of products available for temporary wall decals. Now offered in tons of different designs, materials, and themes, you can choose anything from mirrors to 3D art to really cool designs (anything from Paris to owls to flowers to sports to cars to re-writable calendars to actual borders and murals).
These products are made to decorate walls without damaging the paint. They’re repositionable, self-adhering, and literally all you do is peel them off their backers and stick them where you want them.
They’re a fantastic, easy way to up the style ante in your dorm space (and believe me, you’ll want to. You’ll have people popping in and out of there all year—be the room all your floor-mates love visiting because it’s so stylish and comfortable. It’s a good feeling).
Some more ways to make that dorm your own—attractive, comfortable bedding. The bed is one of the more dominant features in the space, so have cool bedding, and don’t be afraid to add some funky touches to the bed, like decorative (yet comfy) pillows, a quilt, that teddy bear you’ve had since you were three (hey, be proud of who you are!).
Other little touches worth adding are a chic garbage can, a plant, and little personal items that will make you feel comfortable and happy.
cleaningproductsKeeping your dorm room clean is an easy task, and one I highly recommend. A quick dusting once a week and a wipe over of the floor with a wet cloth or mop is definitely in your best interest. Wash any dishes you have as soon as possible—it’s a way less daunting task when they don’t build up.
As long as you stay on top of your room upkeep, it will never take you much time, but seriously believe me when I say a clean, tidy dorm room will do wonders for your stress levels, which will be high enough thanks to things like exams and piles of papers.
A final investment I cannot stress enough for you in your new dorm—shower shoes. Seriously. I won't get into the details on this as they still haunt my nightmares, but do not go barefoot in those showers, folks.
The year ahead is going to be full of wonderful and challenging experiences. Every single one of us needs a place to go to at the end of the day that makes us feel peaceful, comfortable, and able to work through whatever new experiences have been thrown at us.
Make your dorm room your little corner of the world, and it will help you through your school year. Have a wonderful semester and enjoy the experience for what it is. And seriously trust me on the shower shoes.


Originally Published by The Chronicle Herald - September 4, 2014


Alexandra Kelter

Alexandra Kelter is a social media specialist with Central Home Improvements. Her column covers many aspects of home improvement, both indoor and outdoor, and will combine trending styles with practical applications all within realistic budgets. Kelter is also passionate about fashion, travel, living by the ocean and her bulldog.

You're standing on the curb (or driving by, or walking past) and you look at a house near you and think, "That house is so beautiful! I wish I lived there." That, my friends, is curb appeal. Technically speaking, it's the level of attractiveness of your home and property as seen from the exterior.
sellingbuyinghouseWhy is it so important? For a number of reasons. For starters, curb appeal plays a major role in the resale value of your house. The exterior is a potential buyer's first introduction to their new potential home-- if it looks cared-for and inviting, they're going to be way more receptive to the idea that their house-hunt is over.
Many of the elements of a home's exterior that contribute to curb appeal also have practical applications as well. For example, new windows usually offer a significant visual upgrade, however they also increase insulation (keeping the summer sun from turning your house into an oven and the cold winter from making it into a fridge) and improve security (a hardy new window is way less appealing and harder to break into than an old, tired one).
One of the best things about attending to the curb appeal of your home is the simple fact that it feels great to take pride in your property. A house is the largest financial investment many of us will ever make-- we work hard to earn it, and it's definitely worth a little TLC to ensure that it reflects our personal style. Who doesn't enjoy having people gush over how lovely their home is?
Not sure what to tackle on your home improvement list to kick up the curb appeal? Take a walk all around your property with a pen and notepad. Look at it from the street. What jumps out at you as attractive, and what maybe needs a little makeover? Don't be afraid to check out ideas online and around your neighbourhood. It's hard to know what you like on a home's exterior unless you see it somewhere.
Consider the following. Do you want your home to blend into the streetscape? Or would you prefer that it stand out? Determining the answer is a good starting point for selecting colours and finishes that will present the face of your home. Keep in mind that trends come and go – if you don't want to renew your curb appeal every few years, consider sticking with classic colours and design elements in the major features, and incorporate trends into the smaller pieces such as urns and planters, house numbers and entrance mats.
roofcloseupLarger elements of your home's curb appeal include the roof, driveway, siding, and lawn. A sound roof is one of the best returns on investment you can make. It influences your home's insulation (in a very big way!), it protects all your beloved home's contents (including family members), and it's a big part of the visual picture. If your roof is tired, invest in a new one. There are some excellent payment plans now available to make a new roof affordable, and in the long run you'll save major money, not to mention that if and when you go to sell your home, a new roof increases the asking price of a property in a pleasing way.
Regular minimal maintenance will keep your driveway and lawn looking groomed, which then gives your property a similar air of being well looked-after.
For siding, there are so many different options now available that you'll have no trouble finding exactly what you want. Each type of siding comes with its own required maintenance, but as long as you keep on top of it, it's never going to be a major project.
frontdoorsPeople often forget that it's the details which really finish a look. Your front door, the walkway leading up to it, your window shutters, your mailbox, the flower beds or potted plants, your house numbers, the exterior trim-- all of these things play a surprisingly big role in the overall impression of your home. A quality front entrance is a good investment for your own benefit, but also when selling your home.
Remember the finishing touches, such as kick plates, door knockers and stylish door hardware when adding a new entrance to your home. A potential buyer's opinion of the overall caliber of a property is largely influenced by details like that, because if the seller has invested in these types of characteristics, they've also put thought and care into the larger parts of a home, like the furnace or roof.
Your walkway brings people to your home; it's like your property's handshake. Little things like ensuring there are no weeds growing in and around it, keeping it clear of debris, adding some nice flowers or plants along it, perhaps some pretty solar lighting, and similar such easy-to-do tasks will keep it looking fresh, stylish, and welcoming. Mulching walkway beds is a simple way to ensure you won't be spending a lot of time weeding – and it adds a well-groomed, professionally finished look to your property.
If you want to increase your home's curb appeal but you're working on a tight budget, consider painting the shutters and/or trim of your house. This simple DIY project won't take a lot of time or money, but you'll be shocked at what a fresh coat of paint can do to the overall attractiveness of your home's exterior. A popular trend among home designers right now is painting the house numbers in a bright colour to match or complement the front door and/or shutters. Adding some outdoor décor, like a wreath or hanging art to your door, and a chair with some colourful cushions, a pot of bright flowers and a stylish exterior entrance mat, will also win major style points.

You should be proud to come home to your house-- a little care and elbow grease will ensure that you always are.


Originally Published by The Chronicle Herald


Alexandra Kelter

Alexandra Kelter is a social media specialist with Central Home Improvements. Her column covers many aspects of home improvement, both indoor and outdoor, and will combine trending styles with practical applications all within realistic budgets. Kelter is also passionate about fashion, travel, living by the ocean and her bulldog.