Dorm Room Disasters
With his clutter convoy in tow, Peter heads south after receiving a desperate e-mail from a concerned mother. Kathy's son Kevin shares a room at a Georgia Tech fraternity house with two other boys. "I've only been in his room once, and that was enough to know I don't want to go back," she writes. "There is no closet, and they do not have a trash can."
It's time for action. Peter and his clutter crew spring into action bright and early—at 6 a.m. "Whoa," a stunned frat brother says. "Could you guys come back?"
But the surprises don't end there—Peter's also brought the boys' moms! "It's worse than I remember," Kathy says.
Another problem with the room? There are no desks! "You have three people trying to live in a small space," Joe says. "That's the biggest challenge is just finding a place for everything."
"So here's what we're going to do, boys. I am sending your mothers away to disinfect themselves—whatever is needed—and the four of us are going to declutter this room and get it organized," Peter says. "My friends, it's a new day at Georgia Tech."
The first step in a surface purge is to get rid of three types of things—trash, anything that's dirty and anything you no longer need, use or want.
The boys come across many hidden treasures, like months-old pop cans and Jack's used tissues. "When he gets sick, the Kleenexes pile up," Kevin says. "Well, we don't have a trash can right there," Jack says.
Peter also sets up clothing racks for each of the boys—who make a surprising discovery as they start hanging their clothes. Because they couldn't find the items of clothing they needed, they spent a lot of money buying replacements. "I don't think I need 15 undershirts," Joe says.
When the room is finally clear, the frat house hallway is lined with stuff. "You get everything out of the room to start with, and then you can start building upon the space you want," Peter says.
The first thing that hit Taniya when she walked into the 195-square-foot room was the stench. "It really did smell as bad as it looks," she says. "That was the initial shock and horror."
Holding their breath, Chip and Taniya got busy transforming the tiny room. "In a small space, what you have to think about is getting stuff off the floor because that's the valued real estate—the floor space," he says. "Be creative with getting things off the floor, onto the wall. Everything has a specified location and space."
Watch the amazing reveal
Zone by zone, Taniya walks the boys through each part of their room, starting with a new study area. The most important zone, she says, is their work area. Using cabinetry and new stools, Taniya created a work space with lots of school spirit. "We have a desk now," Kevin says. "We can actually do homework."
In this room: stools, Bed Bath & Beyond; Foto Pendant Lights, IKEA; navy flannel bed linen, Bed Bath & Beyond; bed throws and pillows, Target; duvet and comforter, IKEA; Stockholm Rand floor rug, IKEA; Malm three-drawer chest, IKEA; roman and blackout shades, Lowe's; wall paint – Valspar Fired Earth #6011-1, Lowe's; counter paint – Valspar Caramel Honey #3033-3B, Lowe's; white pencil cup, The Container Store
In this room: Foto Pendant Lights, IKEA; Stockholm Rand floor rug, IKEA; Malm three-drawer chest, IKEA; roman and blackout shades, Lowe's; wall paint – Valspar Fired Earth #6011-1, Lowe's; counter paint – Valspar Caramel Honey #3033-3B, Lowe's; Elfa platinum mesh drawer unit, The Container Store; glassware and dishes, IKEA; Klippan love seat, IKEA; throw, IKEA; Stockholm Rand floor rug, IKEA
In this room: fabric panels, Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts; Elfa platinum closet spaces, The Container Store; hangers, The Container Store; garment racks, The Container Store; counter paint – Valspar Caramel Honey #3033-3B, Lowe's
When the boys want to relax or have friends over, all they have to do is open up their new entertainment cabinet—hidden behind the ladder of the beds. Now, their DVDs and video games are neatly tucked away and easy to access.
But before they invite any frat brothers over, the boys have to give three VIP visitors a private tour of their room—their moms. "This is not the same room," Kathy says. The first stop on the tour? Their brand new trash cans.
"It is organized. It's a new concept for us," Kevin says. "I'm so ashamed of what we were, and now I want to show this to everybody."
In this room: white Aneboda bed frames, IKEA; duvet and comforter, IKEA; navy flannel bed linen, Bed Bath & Beyond; bed throws and pillows, Target; Pax wardrobe frames, IKEA; battery operated tap lights, Lowe's; Pandan mocha boxes, The Container Store; white Stockholm DVD box, The Container Store; white Stockholm magazine file, The Container Store; wastebasket, IKEA; Lack wall shelves, IKEA; Stockholm Rand floor rug, IKEA; wall paint – Valspar Fired Earth #6011-1, Lowe's; cabinet paint – Valspar Caramel Honey #3033-3B, Lowe's
Also used in this makeover: Elfa white mesh two-drawer unit, The Container Store; 25 CD punctuate box, The Container Store; mesh flatware tray, The Container Store; white Stockholm CD box; white double stowaway box, The Container Store; mirror, IKEA
The boys say they each make an effort to keep their new space neat. "It's changed our lifestyle completely," Kevin says. "We give 10 minutes each day to get together and do a clean sweep to make sure it never ends up like what you guys saw before they came in here."
Jack says it's easier to clean when there's actually a place to put everything. It's easier to get work done too. "We have a work area," the architecture student says. "I think before it was a plastic container that had stuff on it already. Now we have chairs to sit on. I can do my studio work here. It's nice."
Peter and his crew couldn't leave campus without giving these girls room to walk, so Peter tracks down Ashley in English class. After she gets a pass back to her messy dorm room, she and the clutter crew meet up with Kali and get to work.
Surveying the explosion of clothes, books and old pop cans, Peter gives the roomies a few basic organizing principles to think about. "You have a lot of stuff, and there are two options—either I don't have enough room, or I have too much stuff," he says.
"We have too much stuff," Ashley says.
Peter says Kali and Ashley are also fighting a losing battle because they've let clutter take over flat surfaces like their desks. "Get the bins in here," Peter says. "Let's go."
Ashley and Kali sort their belongings into specific bins for food, school materials, clothes and items they'd like to donate. They also finally get around to throwing out old pop cans and water bottles that were lost under other clutter.
In just two hours, the room is completely clear!
So Peter calls on David Bromstad, host of HGTV's Color Splash, to give this boring dorm room a boost—but there's a catch. David has 24 hours and can only spend $500. "It's a challenge, but I'm good at challenges," David says.
The biggest obstacle David faces are the school's rules. "With dorm rooms, you have a long list of things you cannot do. You can't paint the walls—well, that's the easiest and cheapest way to transform a space," he says. "You cannot hang anything on the ceiling, or you can't put any holes in the walls at all or anything like that. And you can't take the furniture out. You can't paint the furniture, which is another thing I would do."
Take a tour of the new room
The first thing David does is give the room some simple symmetry. "In a small room like this, just making everything symmetrical and easy opens it up," David says.
Before, Kali and Ashley had their furniture in a funky formation. That, David says, is the biggest mistake people make in small spaces. "They tend to try to be creative and very abstract with their furniture," he says. "But in a small space, keeping everything symmetrical keeps it organized and makes it really clean for the eyes to look at."
In this room: area rugs, IKEA; lamps, IKEA; throws and comforters, IKEA; sheers, IKEA; throw pillows, IKEA; ottoman, IKEA; placemats, IKEA; vases, IKEA; curtain tension rods, Target
Color is always an instant update that doesn't have to break the bank, David says. "[These are] $15 rugs. Two of them put together makes a huge statement," he says.
But those aren't David's favorite thing in the room. "The thing that is the most dramatic—and I think that is making the biggest impact—in the room is these fabric panels right over the doors," he says. "They're just on there, really simple and easy, some double-faced tape that you can easily remove at the end of the school year, take 'em with you and put 'em in your next dorm room."
In this room: area rugs, IKEA; lamps, IKEA; throws and comforters, IKEA; throw pillows, IKEA and Home Goods; ottoman, IKEA; placemats, IKEA; fabric for panels, IKEA; acrylic medium and large boxes, The Container Store; storage locker, The Container Store
So how much did this redesign run David? The grand total came in at $498—$2 to spare! "You can make an impact design-wise just with a little bit of money, and that's important these days," David says.
In this room: area rugs, IKEA; lamps, IKEA; throws and comforters, IKEA; throw pillows, IKEA and Home Goods; ottoman, IKEA; placemats, IKEA; fabric for panels, IKEA; window sheers, IKEA; tension rods, Target; poster frames, Target
Also used in this makeover: gift wrap, IKEA; waste baskets, IKEA; magazine holders, IKEA; hampers, The Container Store
Ashley says the organization has inspired her to start losing weight. "I've joined a new program in our school, and I've actually in one week lost 3 pounds and I'm really excited," she says.
"Home, head, heart, hip—they're all connected," Peter says. "And here's a great example of that."
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