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Dorm decor adds whimsy to the home

A few years ago, right around this time of year, I slowed down to check out a store's colorful display of products designed for dorm living.

Desk lamps, butterfly chairs, those types of things.

One of the items that caught my eye was a hot-pink, thick floor cushion about the size of a twin mattress. It could be rolled up when not in use.

I thought this offered a handy solution for overnight guests during sleepovers. I can't remember the price, but I know it wasn't much.

It turned out to be a good investment. In fact, we ended up buying a second one and use them more often than the air mattress we also own. We store them on the floor of the linen closet.

Even if you don't have a college-bound child, popular dorm products such as these can fit nicely into your own home.

It might be some whimsical wall decals that will brighten the laundry room. A shag accent rug in a fun color for next to a bed. Or a modern desk lamp that will work in the den.

Even the back-to-school aisles, with their colorful pencils, nifty notebooks and other supplies, can offer eye-catching products equally suited for the home.

I certainly am not suggesting running out and buying a lot of stuff. But it may be worth taking a look, especially if you are decorating a guest bedroom, home office or kids' bath.

Some ideas:

*Pop-up hamper. You can use it to motivate kids to round up dirty clothes from the bedroom floor, of course. But it also can be used for storage. Years ago I bought a solid blue one that we filled with stuffed animals. It made cleanup a snap.

*Magnetic locker accessories. These can be used on a side of a refrigerator for holding anything from pencils to reading glasses. There are cute memo boards and photo frames, too.

*Bins and baskets. These are available all year, naturally, but I found one of my favorites a couple of years ago during the summer. It is the perfect shade of green for our daughter's bathroom. We use it to store rolled-up hand towels.

*Comforters/bedding sets. A must-have item for the dorm crowd, but you may find a perfect pattern for a kids' bedroom or guest room. A reversible comforter lets you flip it over for a whole new look from time to time.

*Set of washcloths. Parents often send their kids off to college with a set or two of inexpensive basic white washcloths. And they are handy to have around the house. I often pick up a new set of eight or 12 when I see them. They eventually become cleaning rags.

*Extra seating. Bean bags and butterfly chairs work in dorms but also in tweens' or teens' spaces at home. I can also picture a square ottoman designed with storage space under the seat working in an adult's walk-in closet or dressing area.

e-mail: smartin@buffnews.com

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