College décor: Let your personality shine

As college-bound students face the daunting task of turning a 230-square-foot space into an all-in-one bedroom, kitchen and living area, here are a few easy decorating ideas that can appeal to any budget. For less than $150, students can transform an entire dorm, complement any roommate's style and ease the tension when packing up at year's end.

"The first look at a bare dorm room can be discouraging, but adding your own unique touch can make a big difference," says Melissa Birdsong, vice president of trend and design for Lowe's. "A colorful area rug, live plants, curtains and stylish table and floor lamps can personalize and brighten a small room immediately without breaking the bank."

Birdsong also added that students shouldn't forget functional items such as a small box of basic tools, tape and extension cords that will come in handy during the school year.

"With a little creativity, it is possible to carve out a space of your own in a tiny dorm room."

Most dorms come furnished with just the bare necessities: a bed, a desk, a couple of drawers, a closet and an overhead light. By adding just a few simple items, that bland, boring room can be turned into a dream dorm.

Get on board

Bulletin boards and white boards are crucial to keeping track of party invitations, ticket stubs, notes from family and to-do lists.

Keep notes in style when creating a new bulletin board. Buy four packages of natural cork and attach them to a piece of plywood with foam mounting squares. Consider painting the plywood and cork in your school colors or bedroom theme.

White boards can function as message centers for roommates or quick artwork. White tile boards are available in the lumber department where a store employee can cut the boards into custom sizes.

Lights on

Since most dorms come equipped with only one large overhead light, give your study space some comfortable lighting. Consider hanging string lights such as the square nylon lantern string lights from your ceiling. These lights create a relaxing atmosphere, without taking up valued floor or furniture space.

Put a twist on the traditional study lamp. Choose a lamp with a textured shade that has a lot of color.

Relax on a rug

For those late night study groups, having a comfortable rug is essential. Many dorm rooms and apartments lack adequate seating, so friends are forced to retreat to the floor. Pick a rug that complements both roommates' styles but will still hide dirt. Consider choosing from the broadloom assorted rugs collection. Many rugs can be found for less than $40, so if it gets too dirty, you can throw it away at year's end.

Make your walls pop

Posters are a dorm room tradition, but consider a new way to dress up your walls with Wall-Pops. These stick-on wall decals come in a variety of colors and shapes and are repositionable, reusable and removable. They allow you to redecorate as often as you like without leaving any paint damage.

Cover up drab, marked walls with Wall-Pops by layering stripes throughout the room. Vertical stripes on an accent wall can make any room appear taller and gives the illusion of more open space.

Curtain call

Standard dorm blinds get high marks for privacy, but they might not rank so high in the style department. You can decorate any window or closet with a shower curtain for around $30. Buy a tension rod and matching shower curtains to cover any jumbled clothing or boring blinds.

Create great storage

Any storage unit bought for a dorm can be carried into fraternity or sorority housing, apartment living and even a future home. It's key to invest in good-quality durable bins and stackable units that will last for years.

Choose flat bins with wheels for under-the-bed storage. The wheels provide versatility and make items such as school supplies or snacks easily accessible.

A three-drawer chest of drawers on wheels makes a great bedside table, keeps organization simple and can hold an alarm clock, lamp or textbook.

For more ideas on how to create a cool hat rack, a trash-can laundry bin and more, visit Lowe's stores or www.lowes

Information courtesy Lowe's