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Released August 26, 2004


HATTIESBURG - Emily Howell's "home away from home" just got a little homier.

Howell, a freshman at The University of Southern Mississippi, was the lucky winner of a free dorm room makeover in a school-sponsored contest held during Freshman Move-in Day on Aug. 19.

As a result, Howell, her roommates and four students from the Southern Miss Interior Design program spent Thursday afternoon picking out colors and hashing out decorating ideas for a radical transformation of her suite in Mississippi Hall.

"This is going to make living away from home a lot easier," said Howell, an Oak Grove resident who is living on campus in part because of scholarship requirements, but mostly to "get the feel of real college life."

Howell and her roommate, Meghan Davis of Oak Grove, share a bedroom together and a "common suite" with four other roommates. Because most of the suitemates had already bought new bedding before Howell found out she won, Howell decided to renovate the common suite, a room with couches, chairs and a television used by all six students.

With the help of the interior design students, who are also the top four officers of the Southern Miss chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers, Howell and her suitemates set some guidelines.

"They said, 'No animal prints,'" said ASID president Stacie Foster of Florence. "Other than that, they really want to use bright colors--blues, pinks or orange--to make it wild and funky. We're probably going to use a lot of geometric shapes, and maybe paint a mural on one wall."

Foster added, "They know they're not going to live here for the rest of their lives. It's not something their moms are going to have to approve, so they want to have fun with it."

Bound carpet for the room will be provided by Anderson Carpet One of Hattiesburg, and American Pride paint will be provided by Southern Diversified Products. "We can match any color the students want, and the use of our low-odor paint means the occupants can move right in without having to smell paint for the next few weeks," said Rocky Pryor, vice president and general manager of Southern Diversified Products.

McRae's, a strong supporter of Southern Miss, is providing a $500 gift certificate that can help the makeover winner find just the right touches for her room.

Howell, who said before this week she'd never won anything larger than a cooler at her father's office picnic, wants to make some suggestions and then "stay out of the way."

"We're going to leave most of the decorating up to the interior decorators. We want them to use their talents," she said.

Davis said she's glad her roommate won the contest, and predicts they'll soon have the most popular pad in Mississippi Hall.

"It's going to make it a lot more relaxing to come home and study. But we'll probably have a lot of people over for watching movies and just sitting and talking," Davis said.

Claire Hamilton, assistant professor in Interior Design, said the project will take a couple of weeks to complete.


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September 10, 2004 10:39 AM