Got a college-bound student under your roof? While Bed Bath & Beyond is a great starting point for furnishing Timmy's new dorm room, we're looking at startups for techie decor inspiration.
You might be exhausted with never-ending shopping lists, but trust us, this is the easy part. Holding back those tears come move-in day will be another story.
Crate: Reinvention of the dorm room milk crates
Quirky's version, however, was designed to support a number of different accessories (including shelves, drawers, white boards, cork boards, metal casters, wooden legs and more), making the system extremely versatile. Alone, it can function as a laundry basket, end table or stool. With a set of links (sold separately), these sturdy plastic cubbies can connect to work as a stack of drawers, bookshelf or entertainment system. (Check out Quirky's video to see the possibilities.)
Each week, the open-source product development startup in New York chooses two new ideas to bring to market from its online community of inventors. Atlanta-based designer Jenny Drinkard impressed Quirky's product evaluation team so much that the company rushed to bring Crate to market by the summer, a move that required bypassing Chinese manufacturing. That means every part of this modular storage system was made here in the U.S. Crate retails for about $20, and its accessories range from $5 to $30. The system is available at select Target, Staples and Office Max locations.
IdeaPaint: Transform any surface into a whiteboard
When a child draws on the walls, you scream in horror. When an adult does so, you nod your head in agreement because she's a product manager trying to explain how something works. And the writing on the wall? That can easily be wiped away, thanks to IdeaPaint.
Beloved by tech startups, IdeaPaint is a single-coat dry erase paint that can transform any surface into a whiteboard — well, minus the board. In the spring, IdeaPaint came out with Clear, a transparent paint that can be applied to any smooth finish, even wood furniture. This means your aspiring artist, mathematician or lawyer can scribble on the walls (or table or floors or anything really) to his heart's desire. (Check out photos from the company's fun Flickr page.)
And since it's clear, come check-out time, the RA likely won't notice a thing (but don't hold me against it if he does). IdeaPaint begins at $225 for 50 square feet worth of paint.
Satechi: A USB power strip that can also transfer data
When Satechi came out with its 12-port USB hub, many people thought overkill. I thought: What a great idea!
It's easy to run out of USB ports on a computer given the number of flash drives, phones, music players, cameras and other gadgets students have these days. That won't be an issue because Satechi's hubs can be daisy chained, supporting up to 127 USB devices. The USB hub ($29.99) works as a power strip with an AC adapter, but can also transfer data up to 480 Mbps.
If you're also in the market for a surge protector, one of Quirky's most popular inventions is Pivot Power, which is a flexible strip that bends to fit your needs (and your bulky chargers).
Hack together a standing desk