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Doing the dorm. (What's New?).

Yes, we know. It seems like just yesterday that you took your last final exam and were finally freed from the chains of early-morning classes. Another long, lazy summer was about to begin. Time sure flies when there's no school. But your seemingly all-too-short break from the rigors of academia are already history--and it's time to head to campus and get set up in the dorm. Whether a first-timer away from home or a grizzled college veteran (just how long are you going to remain a sophomore?), the proper supplies can mean the difference between a cozy oasis for studying and relaxing and a hellhole that is sure to bring down your grades as well as your head.

A good place to start is All Dorm, Inc., Santa Clara, Calif., where the Scrawlwall Dry Erase Board ($14.99), Adventure Armchair ($19.99), Sterlite Stackable Drawers (set of four, $49.99), and Crouton ($99), a cousin to the futon, not for your salad, will get the ball rolling.


Every dorm room needs a message board, but they're usually too small. Not the Scrawlwall, which covers a full-size door using nothing but static electricity. The Adventure Armchair, meanwhile, has a cup holder, large rear mesh pocket, and is constructed of steel frames and durable nylon with double-stitched seams.

To get organized, nothing beats stackable, pull-out drawers that save space and hold plenty of stuff, unless it's a comfortable, ergonomically-correct couch with a lift-up seat section that conceals a huge storage basket. Check out to order these and other student-related products.

As long as you're online, jump over to to see the "Todd Oldham Dorm Room" collection, the chain's first designer selection for students to decorate dorm rooms and off-campus apartments. True to form, Oldham has created product with pattern, reinterpreting camouflage, playing with multicolor stripes, putting a funky spin on stars, and bringing vintage varsity letters into the 21st century. Some items are multifunctional, while others are strictly a study in whimsy and fun. We especially liked the castered Laundry Basket ($20); Star Trash Can ($10); Star Ottoman ($25); Peg Accent Lamp ($15), in which the removable pegs make for endless design possibilities; Pole Lamp ($20, with lampshades of blue, green, and red, and a tension pole that extends from 7.5' to 8.5'); and Jersey Knit Bed Set (twin, $50, full/queen, $60). The latter includes a fully elastic-fitted sheet, reversible oversized flat sheet, reversible oversized comforter, and two reversible pillowcases, so one set can create many different looks.


If you're looking for something to use the Bed Set on, go no further than the Pillowtop Aerobed by Aero Products International, Inc., Wauconda, III available through the company's website ( and the Sharper Image (San Francisco, Calif.) catalogue (phone: 1-800-344-4444; website:

Inflating in just one minute thanks to the built-in electric pump, the Pillowtop, with its custom one-touch comfort-control, allows users to fine-tune the inflation--while lying in bed--to exactly the level of support desired. Each of the Aerobed models--twin ($129.95), full ($169.95), and queen ($199.95)--accommodates standard fitted sheets and deflates quickly to roll up conveniently into a duffel for storage or travel. There's also the Aero Sleep Away Bed for children ($79.95)--50" x 25", and recessed 4" for safety--made of heavy gauge PVC with electronically welded seams that can support up to 150 pounds and comes with a washable mattress cover. We've found it does wonders for our three youngsters' sleeping arrangements, as the bedrooms that have air conditioning in the summer are not the same ones with the best heating in the winter. So we tend to move beds and children from room to room, depending on the time of year.

While you're clicked on to the Sharper Image, take a look at a pair of must-haves for any dorm room: the CD Radio/Alarm Clock with Sound Soother ($219.95) and the Odyssey III Interactive Talking Globe ($149.95). The portable CD (measuring 9" x 6" x 2" and weighing a mere 32 ounces) lets you fall asleep to any of 20 soothing sounds--such as Summer Night, North Woods, Brook, Rain, Oceanside--and wake up to the CD track of your choice. The 20 digitally recorded relaxing sounds are built into the unit and activated at the touch of a button. The Sleep Timer can be set to turn off automatically after 15, 30, 45, or 60 minutes. Meanwhile, the alarm clock will wake you with any CD track, a radio station, buzzer, or the sound of church bells--all programmed to ramp-up gradually in 10 steps. Hit the snooze button once for a 10-minute respite, twice for 20 minutes, and so on up to 60 minutes. Press the talk button, and a pleasant voice will announce the time. The easy-to-read LCD screen is backlit in blue, displaying all information at a glance: 12/24 time; month, day, year; room temperature in Fahrenheit and Celsius; selected sound; CD track; alarm settings; etc. This beauty, which plugs into a wall outlet or runs on six AA batteries, is available in three colors: select titanium, black, or translucent graphite.


The Odyssey Globe operates on four C batteries, stands 12" high, and rotates on its base, which also serves as the anchor for the stylus. Simply touch any point on the globe and its digital voice will tell you information from the built-in computerized atlas. Categories that can be selected include population, economy, weather, politics, and culture. There is data on thousands of countries, states, cities and towns, topography, currencies, and more. There also are two preprogrammed games that allow up to four players to test their knowledge---with three levels of difficulty.

With any dorm room in any college in any state, there is one common dilemma--dirt! No sweat. You'll lose no study (or party) time if you attack the problem with the newest trio of cleaners from Black & Decker, Towson, Md. Whether spilled milk or spilled cereal, the 4.8-volt Cordless Wet & Dry Vac ($45.99) will slurp up the mess--and that includes tracked-in-mud. The power-boost feature offers additional cleaning power for tougher jobs, and the Double Action Filter System ensures that your hands never get dirty while emptying.


The Cordless Floor Vac ($64.99) is three vacuums in one. Use it as an upright. Then, with the push or a button, run it as a full-size handheld. Next, push another button and you're ready to go with a 9.6-volt hand vac. It's a real space saver, too, with wall hook and mount. The corded Floor & Hand Vac ($69.99) can be used as an upright for large areas or as a handheld. The surface selector has thumb and foot controls to activate the power brush. The vacuum comes with a flexible hose, crevice tool, and dusting brush with onboard storage. Black & Decker products are available at home centers, mass merchandisers, and hardware stores.

Now, all that's left for you to do is get to class.
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Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2002
Previous Article:Sharp(er) shooting. (What's New?).
Next Article:Whirling dervish. (What's New?).

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