February 14, 2002

Pimpin' Your Pad

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It’s true that though many people consider college to be the “best years” of their lives, it isn’t typically seen as glamorous period. Indeed, luxuries such as table lamps, barware, non-plastic dishes, non-disposable silverware, and rugs are some of the creature comforts typically associated with the entity we call “home.” Shabby, overpriced apartments tend to be the norm. If you’ve got a place with hardwood flooring, it’s most likely retains the scent if accumulated beer spills and, should your college home have a balcony, it’s probably been used for urination and vomiting. The homes that we will all (hopefully) some day have are a far cry from our current surroundings — but that doesn’t matter. This is college.

All the same, wouldn’t it be nice to cover up the stains when the folks come for a visit? Or cover the holes in your walls with a framed photo of Mom and Dad? How spectacular would it be to serve your older brother an icy cocktail as he pats you on the back on graduation day? Impossible, you say?

With a little quick-thinking and relatively few dollars, it’s possible to turn your goopy dump of an apartment into something you can, at least for a couple of years, be proud of. Or, if proud is too strong a word, you can at least make your home something Martha Stewart probably wouldn’t wretch at … well, she’d probably still wretch, but she’d give you an “A” for effort.

In The Bedroom

The bedroom is arguably the most important room in your “pad.” For some of us, it’s where the magic happens, and for the rest it is where we sleep, where we attempt to lure members of the opposite sex, and where we sit and stare at the walls for hours on end. It should be intimate and comfortable, somehow representing everything you are. And, for this, the bedroom should be the pimpingest room of your house or apartment.

There are two sources of inspiration for us when it comes to the bedroom: Eastern culture and … the Ladies Man. From the former we can adopt the principles of Feng Shui, or at least a horribly misinterpreted, Westernized version of it.

Plants are a must in any room of the house, but especially the bedroom. If you can spare a few dollars on some green leafiness and if you can put aside a minute now and then to water them and open your shades to let in a little sunlight, you’ll have a bit more life — and oxygen — in your room. Plants are less demanding than a pet, but they can still love you back. You can purchase your green friends, from the common house plants to more exotic varieties, at Boole’s Flower Shop, The Plantation, or any number of other area businesses that are friendly to the greenery.

Flowing water can also be the perfect addition to the intimacies of your sleeping quarters (and I don’t mean your drunk roommate urinating on your rug). Desk fountains can be quite reasonably priced at any department store or home furnishing specialist. Some come with pebbles and little men with fishing poles. You can put a goldfish in one, but it will die in less than a week. The sound of trickling water can be a calming presence as you cram for an exam or write a late-night paper.

And now for the lessons of the Ladies Man. The SNL skit has given us more than a timeless pimpin’ accent. Wine, candles, and tapestries are a few of the hallmarks.

No bedroom is complete without the potential of being burnt to a crisp. Candles are romantic and aromatic. That is, they can set the mood for those nights when you wish you had a boyfriend or girlfriend and they can mask the odor of whatever it is that would otherwise stink up your room. Turn the lights out and light a few wicks for the perfect atmosphere.

Wine is essential for those nights when you do secure a date and decide to stay home and watch a movie as you cuddle under the covers. A bottle of Courvoisier would be Tim Meadows’ lispy suggestion.

As for the tapestries, they can save almost any room. An intricately patterned tapestry can cover a bare wall and make any further art acquisition unnecessary. You can use one to cover the 2-decade-old sofa that came with your apartment, or you can keep it handy to throw atop your consistently large pile of dirty laundry, explaining to your date that it’s a piece of art you’re working on under there.

Behind The Bar

Plastic cups and water glasses full of cheap, screw-cap wine are okay if you’re playing beer pong or actively trying to repel the opposite sex. However, it’s always a good idea to have at least two wine glasses tucked away in the cupboard. Handing your date a bright blue Dixie cup of Merlot is a blunder that screams: “I don’t want your love.”

However, a couple of wine glasses doesn’t make a full bar. It’s a nice idea to have a few pint glasses on hand for those occasions when your roommate’s parents are in town and good ol’ dad wants to throw a couple back with the boys. And for Mom? If you get a cocktail shaker, you can whip her up a cold drink you can be proud of. For a couple extra bucks, pick up a jigger and a strainer. These nifty tools will ensure that your drinks are always perfectly measured and completely chilled. As an added bonus, you’ll know what a jigger is. How cool is that?

If you’re looking to save some cash, check out thrift stores such as The Salvation Army. Many second hand shops have a housewares section and, oftentimes, the sundries include glasses. If, on the other hand, you’re out to spend some bucks, the bar is definitely one area of your pad that you can drop a ton of dough. Places like Restoration Hardware typically carry a variety of bar goods, including hand-etched pint glasses straight out of England. One great resource for new barware is Habitat, located right here in Ithaca. From Martini glasses to Collins glasses, it can be found at Habitat.

Be sure to keep a few shot glasses handy and buy yourself some rocks glasses. This will give your guests the option of having a tall drink, or a nightcap. On top of that, smaller glasses mean less wasted alcohol — fewer half-full rum and cokes and, by extension, less money down the drain when the party’s over.

A Room To Live In

Nope, it’s not just a clever name for a room. In fact, this is generally the focal point of every apartment or house in the nation, if not the entire world. It’s the proverbial hub of the home, the warm center of your universe, the place where conversations and intellectual debates take place. So, why neglect to decorate it? Why forget about the very heart of your home? Would you neglect your heart? Of course you wouldn’t.

The first thing each living room needs is a couch. If you’re lucky enough to have signed a lease on a place that’s furnished, you’re already ahead of the game. A word of caution, though: if the couch came with the place, it’s probably not completely sanitary. If you have a blacklight, you’ve already found that out. There’s a simple solution to this dilemma. Buy a slipcover. Failing that, a tapestry or a simple bedsheet can suffice. Depending on the style and color, you can give your living room a little personality. This same principle applies to any recliner, lounge chair, and especially to any love seat that may have come with your place.

If you’ve got hardwood, rugs are a nifty way to avoid splinters and cover up permanent stains. Believe us, throwing a rug over some dingy wood is a lot easier than sanding and then refinishing the floor. Who knew? There’s an unbelievably large variety of rugs to be found in a multiple of locales. Urban Outfitters always carries a huge stock of fairly inexpensive and completely pimpin’ rugs. If you can’t get to an Urban Outfitters any time soon, don’t fret. They have a web site that’s constantly being updated. Hi
t up the “Sale” link for the best buys.

One of the most important aspects of any room is, of course, lighting. Whether you’re attempting to set a romantic mood or simply trying to see your homework, lighting is perhaps the most aspect of pad. But don’t let function be the sole factor when deciding how you should light your place. Recently, there’s been a big revival of Asian-inspired overhead lighting. From paper lanterns in a variety of colors, to the classic lava lamp, the possibilities are nearly endless.

A good and cheap way to handle the ambiance lighting can be found in the common “twinkle” light. Here, too, there is an enormous variety to choose from. If you look hard enough, you can find chili pepper light kits, beer can light sets, and even strings of lights inspired by your favorite cartoon characters.

For a little romance, try one of those nifty star-shaped lights. Available in a multiplicity of colors, designs, and styles, these little lights add a lot to a plain room. Your goldfish will appreciate the thoughtful touch as the light dangles above his bowl.

Lately, the living room is perhaps the most logical location for any larger items of furniture you have. Bookshelves and media cabinets are a must. Yard sales are a great place to find accents for your living room. Plus, you’ll spend considerably less money.

The Sound

No pad is pimpin’ without tunes. And, like plants and fountains, the best ideas comes from the Orient. Sony and Panasonic are two of the leaders in the stereo equipment market. You can purchase a 50-disc changer and keep the beats pumpuhar2 all night long, or a smaller desk unit to play you to sleep and wake you up in the morning. Never try to play a goldfish as if it were a CD — it will quickly expire.

However, in succumbing to the ever-present retro movement, a vinyl record player is the best choice to provide your ears with all the aural pleasure they can ask for. Save money by buying used (of course, I suppose they don’t really make many new record players anyhow). See if you can hunt down an old Victrola for retro-to-the-fullest. Keep it on a table next to your lava lamp, and stack your parents’ record collection (which they… still haven’t noticed you’ve stolen) on the floor. And never even think of pretending that you’re some studly hip-hop DJ — it will sound like death, your plants will wilt immediately, and your vinyls will be ruined forever.

The Grub Den

In many ways, this is the most frightening room of any college student’s home — second only to the bathroom. There’s a good chance your fridge is less than squeaky clean, and there’s an equally good possibility that whatever the leftover pasta on your counter has been afflicted with is communicable. However, the kitchen has the potential to be a social room as well as the grub den.

That said, it’s important to keep the place clean. By doing your dishes right after you use them, you can keep ahead of the job and reduce a lot of the scrubbing that becomes necessary once food has cemented itself to the sides of your dishes.

Speaking of dishes … it’s a great idea to actually pick up some ceramic dishware. As opposed to plastic plates and cups, buy four or five nice dinner plates, along with a matching set of smaller, bread plates. While you’re at it, pick up a couple of coffee mugs and a set of drinking glasses. Typically, places like Walmart and Target will carry sets of four or six drinking glasses, boxed and ready to take home. The great thing about these sets are their replaceability and their low price.

You don’t have to have marble countertops and a tile floor to have a swanky kitchen in your pad. Refrigerator magnets, a rug, and a couple appliances will dress that shabby slop-hole up quite nicely. The Magnetic Poetry company has expanded their scope recently with products like the “Genius Edition,” the “Shakespeare Addition,” and the dirty word edition they like to call “The Erotic Edition.” My only question here is this: What is so “erotic” about the word “spurting”? We’ll probably never know, but it’s in there.

One key thing to have in your kitchen is a teapot. Not only can you boil water for your tea or hot cocoa in something other that a saucepan, but you can leave the pot on the stovetop when not in use. Believe it or not, it will look good. Just ask your mother. No really, say, “Mom, do you think I should leave my teapot on the stove when I’m not using it or should I stuff it into my roach-infested, smelly, dark, gross cabinet?” Chances are, she’ll suggest the stovetop. A quick word of caution though: although teapots hold water, they are not a very good spot to keep a pet like, say, a goldfish.

Last, the kitchen is a good place to display your nicer food items. A bottle of wine in a wine rack just screams, “I’m a socially conscious, classy individual with good taste and an eye for detail.” It really does scream this; in our experience wine bottles can be quite articulate, particularly when there are three or four empty ones that you’ve just drained lying around on your bedroom floor.

El Ba