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Grade school lockers: the latest decorating frontier

Like many people moving into new digs, Joy Zientara wants to measure her space before she plunks down money for the shag rug, wallpaper, curtains, and chandelier she’s considering.

For her school locker.

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“I need to see how tall it is,” the Wellesley sixth grader said as she checked out a decorated locker at LittleBits Toys in Wellesley recently. “My sister’s locker was really tall.”

After decades of somehow ignoring these slivers of real estate, retailers have realized there’s money to be made in those 12- by-18- by-36-inch metal boxes.

Oh, torn-out pictures of *NSync, where have you gone?

Pottery Barn’s PBteen sells $24, battery-powered string lights. Toys “R” Us has a shell-shaped mirror for $4.98. If your middle schooler wants a Hello Kittylocker rug, Claire’s has one for $12.50.

At LockerLookz , an online retailer started several years ago by two Dallas moms after lackluster shopping trips with their daughters, preteen decorators can put together veritable showplaces.

For sale (online and in stores): Wallpaper in eight patterns including a purple zebra print or a tasteful black-and-white houndstooth, for $21.99; curtains ($7.99), many of which coordinate nicely with $24.99 pink or blue battery-powered chandeliers — or would, if they weren’t back ordered. And, of course, an online mix-and-match feature lets shoppers try out different locker looks before they buy.

While some have mocked or criticized such commercialization, middle school can be a scary place, and Zientara says she’s hoping a stylish locker will help her make new friends.

“People could say, ‘I really like your chandelier,’ and through that one friend you could meet other friends,” she said, thoughtfully.

Beth Teitell can be reached at bteitell@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @bethteitell.
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