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I have a love/hate relationship with the beginning of autumn, almost as if I’m Robert Redford and autumn is Barbra Streisand and we live on a planet in The Way We Were galaxy. Hate: My allergies act up and throw off my productivity. Love: I’m instantly brought back to the late 1990′s during my college days in Tallahassee, Florida. While lots of people have fond memories of funnels and blacked-out blurs, I think of open windows on breezy afternoons, piles of leaves on the sidewalks and the very angry lyrics of one Ms. Alanis Morissette playing in my black/tan 1993 Jeep Wrangler. But above all, I think of the iconic style that goes along with college: tartan, plaid, varsity letters and the overall preppy vibe that is early-twentysomething-ness.

While sourcing materials for my latest bachelor clients, I’ve been noticing how drawn I am to all things preppy. There’s something classic and graphic that goes along with the style; it also works well with different aesthetics, from uber-traditional to contemporary or mod. As I compiled ideas for clients, I came across some textile-ish items sporting that collegiate look. Whether you’re looking for that perfect comforter or plan to cover your adult office in Ralph Lauren tartan, here are some collegiately stylish items available online that evoke that studious feel. You know who wishes he could be studying shelter magazines right now but he can’t due to his sinuses killing him? Me. The love/hate relationship with autumn is in full effect.


The Beverly Hills Polo Club Argyle 3-Piece Comforter Set in navy from Amazon.com is a cost-effective way to add a studios look to any bedroom. Add a few accents of hot pink to give it a girly edge or pair it with fire engine red or lime green for a colorful, masculine look.

ethan tartan wallpaper

Ralph Lauren has been King of the Preppies since the 1970′s. His Ethan Tartan wallpaper is insanely affordable and a great way to add classic, preppy elegance to just about any room. At $60 per roll, it’s possible to cover a teency weency powder room for less than $250. There are two options: green/blue and red/green. Personally, I’m drawn to the red since it’s a bit more gender neutral.

Flor Plaid

How many people do you know with plaid floors? Exactly! FLOR’s Pop Tartan adds a graphic touch of preppy right underfoot. This is exceptionally wonderful for students looking to dress up their dorms or for families with kids since the product is totally reusable. Just stick the carpet tiles down in whatever configuration is needed now, then pull them down and lay ‘em in your next place. If you get a stain on a square, simply swap it out.

Preppy Pillow

You know that Ikat pattern which design lovers have been obsessed with for the last few years? Well, Safavieh put their own stamp on argyle by creating a pillow that’s one part Ivy League and one part Uzbekistan. The red, white and black color scheme goes well with just about any accent color; University of Georgia students and alumni are likely to be huge fans.
Plaid Chair

Overstock.com’s Black/Ivory Polka Plaid Accent Chair is under $200 and gives that accent of collegiate-ness to any empty corner calling out for some sort of extra seating. The classic, overall neutral piece can easy be elevated to a higher-energy look with the addition of a boldly-colored throw pillow or blanket.

Wall Decals

And if you’re like me and mad that you never had the athletic gene to afford memories of wearing Letterman’s jackets, decorate your walls with varsity letters instead. From 18X18 to 36X36 sizes, Trading Phrases carries custom wall graphics in that iconic varsity font allowing just about anything to be spelled out. I would like to spell out T-R-O-P-H-Y for the sake of pretending I was a collegiate champ of some sort. Why? I’m pretty certain college decorators don’t get Heismans.

Although I was tempted to search for stylish paddles meant for whipping mis-behaving fraternity members into shape, the inclusion of objects meant to inflict pain in an article about decorating seemed like a disconnect. Now, let’s hear about other styles or pieces which evoke that well-read, collegiate style.

Tell me about some of your favorites in the comments below.

22 Responses

  1. Briana@HGTV says:

    I'm mad for plaid! That FLOR tile carpet looks pretty cool. Only wish they had it in a red.

  2. woodzart says:

    Not up for a room of plaid….I do love the accent chair!

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  5. CplusE says:

    Even though my paternal grandmother was Scottish, I have never really liked plaid. I do, however, have a fondness for houndstooth! I find these contemporary club chairs in black-and-white houndstooth to be quite attractive:


    I also love this slipper chair:


    A clever houndstooth pillow also doubles as a remote holder:


    This houndstooth bed frame is impressive (I would love to see the aqua blue of the accent pillow on the wall behind the bed):


    NapaStyle's chunky houndstooth rug is something I could see having in my own home:

    <a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_glPoRpydPHA/SYiCNGN6j6I/AAAAAAAAAQE/DkNcWKQzeHY/s1600-h/Napastyle+houndstooth+jute+rug.jpg&quot; rel="nofollow"&gt <a href="http://;http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_glPoRpydPHA/SYiCNGN6j6I…” target=”_blank”>;http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_glPoRpydPHA/SYiCNGN6j6I

    The thing that is hard to find is houndstooth decor items in a color other than black and white. When I was young I had a houndstooth skirt in pumpkin orange, red, and navy, and I adored those colors! Here is a fabric in red, pink, and brown that would look great on an upholstered piece (although it is not upholstery fabric):

    <a href="http://www.habermanfabrics.com/fashion-fabrics/wool-blend-fabrics?product_id=1793&quot; rel="nofollow"&gt <a href="http://;http://www.habermanfabrics.com/fashion-fabrics/wo…” target=”_blank”>;http://www.habermanfabrics.com/fashion-fabrics/wo

    I hope to see houndstooth decor in a variety of colors some time soon!

    • PillowThrowDecor says:

      Hey CplusE! I'm the maker of the "clever houndstooth pillow that also doubles as a remote holder:". Thanks so much for your kind mention!

      Greenhouse fabrics, one of my suppliers has about 60 houndstooth fabrics on my latest search. http://www.greenhousefabrics.com/Search?Search=ho

      They are a "for the trade" supplier but if a person is having drapery or upholstery done, a person may want to hook up with a designer. Loved your Haberman's fabric recommendation… gorgeous!

      Cheers Christine

  6. Linda says:

    Maybe I'm too old for this stuff but I wouldn't have any of these designs in my house.

  7. Pat says:

    Loooove your site! I am a designer and the prep and "menswear" look transcends lots of looks for that great bedroom, library, familyroom, etc.

  8. Deb a Mom says:

    THinking preppy, but not so much plain? Go into LL Bean catalogs, or Lands End. Don't forget Pottery Barn for fab styles. I copy Pottery Barn looks, but shop thrift stores, consignments, and my mom's house. You can't ignore Freecycle or Craig's List! HAPPY AUTUMN DAYS! :-) I loved reading your column!

  9. Deb a Mom says:

    part 2.
    Plus….I don't know about you, but AUTUMN is when folks around my neck of the Connecticut woods…go nuts for yard sales and there seem to be church bazaars galore! As well– for some decidedly fall looks on a budget, shop your FARMERS' MARKETS folks, for some "Great" Pumpkins, gourds, squash and maybe some corn stalks!

  10. Deb a Mom says:

    Part 3. Lastly, look to mother nature herself – and select great leaves, and pinecones (careful w/ the pine sap -it'll ruin clothing and finishes and makes horrid sticky fingers!) and acorns, and lovely fallen -artful looking branches to display in a tall urn, vase or big jars… (these same bare branches and other nature crafts…and be painted -try black and green- & make TERRIFFFFICCCC Halloween props later on next month! ).

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