‘Low budget sure keeps me on my toes; I count every penny and I watch where it goes’

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    decorating an apartment or college dorm can be quite the task – both expensive and tiring – but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. A little creativity can go a long way.Freshman roommates Megan Harlow and Jessica Cox found creative ways to organize their Colby Hall dorm room.

    “I have a lot of shoes, so I got this really cool shoe hanger from Bed Bath and Beyond,” Harlow, an interior design major, said.

    Cox, a radio-TV-film major, said a picture board above her desk was fun and easy to make.

    “I found this really cool laundry basket at Target. It’s pink and green and has three compartments so it saves space, and it was only like $9,” Cox said.

    Slightly different d‚cor is found in the male dorms.

    “We just have a lot of posters in our room and I put up the Texas flag,” Will Watkins, a freshman premajor, said.

    Watkins lives in Milton Daniel Hall, in a triple dormitory with two freshman roommates, Patrick Washington and Joe Zigtema.

    “We usually try to keep things organized,” Watkins said. “When we can’t walk through is when it’s time to clean.”

    The roommates all agree the best organizer for the room is the entertainment stand that holds the TV, stereo and various DVDs and CDs.

    If organizing your room is an issue, Linens-N-Things will be having their semiannual sale for two more weeks.

    Emily Wills, a sales associate for Linens-N-Things, said there are many great dorm room items that are marked down for the school year. She said the storage containers are great for minimizing clutter.

    “We have a huge selection of extra-long twin sheets for the dorms that are usually really hard to find, that lots of students are buying,” Wills said.

    Target also offers exclusive collections that can help create an atmosphere. The Simply Shabby Chic collection offers bedding and bath items. The collection is affordable to most and includes all kinds of accessories from which to choose. Lamps, shower curtains, pillows, nightstands and duvet covers can be found in Target stores with prices starting at $5.99.

    If finding the right look is still difficult, the solution may be just a click away at www.thecontainerstore.com.

    This Web site offers a survey that students can fill out with specific room needs. With more than 7,000 organizing products, there is sure to be something that will solve the back-to-school decorating dilemma.

    The Web site creates a dorm room with all the accessories to fit your needs based on what was entered in the survey. Whether your concern is a cluttered desk or lack of closet space, the answer is at your fingertips.

    When coming up with ideas to make your dorm space more unique, making what you need is sometimes better than just buying it.

    Old hat boxes with funky designs can instantly become a place to put school supplies, books, magazines and even CDs.

    A great way to make a quick nightstand is to turn a vintage suitcase on its side and add bright-colored fabric for a tablecloth.

    Old jewels can also be great accents to brighten up the room. Adding antique pearls and rhinestones to an old chandelier can give the old accessory new life that ties a whole room together.

    Picture frames are also an inexpensive way to give life to a small space.

    For the college male who is decorating his dorm or apartment, the obvious choice would be to paste the entire room with posters of musicians and girls, but with a little more thought, creative additions can go a long way.

    For the scholarly sort, vintage chalk boards are always a fun way to add life to a small space. Not only do they function as notepads for friends, but they are a great way to keep up with homework and schedules throughout the year.

    Vintage guitar boxes with old bumper stickers from across the nation can instantly give the musician’s room a little personality. Antique albums of the classic rock era can also add inspiration to a creative setting.

    Keeping with the all-American trend, a genre of classic muscle cars, from GTOs to Mustangs, can tie a room together. Posters or models and even antique car parts can add real life to the gasoline-charged theme.

    Thrift stores are great places to save money and find some great treasures across Fort Worth.

    Thrift Town, on Jacksboro Highway,offers excellent vintage furniture. The Salvation Army is also a good place to find functional pieces of furniture. There are two locations in Fort Worth, one on Lancaster Avenue and one on Northeast 28th Street.

    With a little paint and a little care, any piece from these locations may become great pieces for an apartment or dorm.

    Pat Coppick, public relations director for Salvation Army stores in Fort Worth, said there are a lot of college students who come in and are able to find furniture for their apartment or dorm.

    “Desks are really what most of them are looking for and our price ranges are from $39 to $89,” Coppick said. “The Salvation Army has a lot of great furniture that could be used for anything in a dorm or apartment. We have beds, dressers, lamps, desks and sometimes you might even find a textbook.

    “The furniture part of the store is based on a time range of how the discounts work,” Coppick said. “If a piece has been in the store 30 days, the original price is discounted 25 percent. After 60 days it is discounted 50 percent, and when it has been there 90 days it is discounted 75 percent.”

    Every Wednesday, The Salvation Army discounts all furniture in the store an extra 30 percent.

    The Salvation Army operates from donations in the community, so even when moving away from college, it is a great opportunity to offer furniture to new college students in need.

    Just remember, when decorating your space, give it personality that is all your own. It is not just a room, it is a space you will be retreating to for the next nine months.