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Saturday, August 12, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Make room for necessities

The Associated Press

A course in efficient storage and décor could be a life lesson learned for college-bound students.

Start to plan before students arrive on campus. A quick call to the school may uncover the size and sleeping arrangements of the room. These dimensions provide a clue as to what you have to work with. Also ask about limitations on personalization of the room.

According to Karena Baily, vice president of merchandising for home organization at Lowe's, the most underutilized space in dorm rooms is beneath beds, on vertical wall space and in corners.

Stackable, modular cube systems with drawers or doors nicely fill available spaces. This do-all storage is found in fabric, wire, plastic or paintable laminates. Gain bonus space with risers to elevate beds slightly off the floor. Slim plastic containers will slide easily and neatly underneath.

Plastic and wire versions can be packed before the jaunt to school, plus they're easily lifted and can withstand rough-and-tumble dorm life.

Of course, the less to store, the better. Students should contact roomies to coordinate who brings what so as not to double up on refrigerators, ironing boards and TV.

No room is complete without basic supplies. OXO makes a college-ready tool kit with pliers, claw hammer and tape measure, among other tools. Toss in an extra extension cord, multi-outlet box or USB cables, extra light bulbs, two-sided tape for posters and duct tape for strapping down cords.

You'll need plenty of lighting to brighten up your space. Find inexpensive desk lamps and clip-on lights at the hardware store. Also, take advantage of wall space with over-the-door and stick-on hooks.

If you're flying to college, check or ship your tools (or wait to buy them when you arrive). If you attempt to board a plane with them, chances are they won't make it to campus.

Material from The Washington Post is included in this report

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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