We move away to college to finally obtain freedom. One aspect I was most excited about was having the creative liberty of styling my dorm room.
I left my childhood bedroom in the past. A room that has seen the most vibrant of paint colors and lived through every pattern of Pottery Barn comforters, filled with memories of Friday afternoons with my best friends, endless nights spent studying for finals and hours of dancing around practicing for recitals. Packing for college, I brought with me souvenirs from the room, while leaving behind an abundance of childhood remnants.
In an unexpected turn of events, I have been reunited with my room. While the reunion has been bittersweet, the room is growing back its character. Through small measures, I have managed to make my childhood room suitable as both a comfortable bedroom and my new classroom.
Although we are living through such an unsure time, having a bedroom that we feel comfortable and happy living in can benefit our mental health. We all need a safe haven where we can be alone, especially when we need time away from our new roommates: Mom and Dad. It was unrealistic that I was going to completely redo the room, both in terms of budget and resources during quarantine. However, the process of adjusting and updating a room can be simple. Through basic changes, I was able to create a space I felt more comfortable in.
While I figured there was no time like quarantine to rummage through old belongings, my inner child found excitement through nearly every oddity in my room. I turned to Marie Kondo, an expert organizer, for advice. Kondo’s “KonMari” method explains the best ways to tackle parting with belongings, despite their deep sentimental value. Parting with pieces of our old room can feel equivalent to abandoning the physical components of our childhood. Kondo advises that we keep the items that brought the most happiness, and simply photograph and donate the items we will no longer have use for. My heart sank a bit while donating books that I remember my dad reading to me before bed or my stuffed animals, each of which I could still name. But with this vital stage completed, I was left with a blank canvas to work with.
I am lucky to have a wall color that was manageable to work around, but if you have hot pink or turquoise walls, a fresh coat of paint might be necessary. Then, I began rearranging furniture. Growing up, I used to shift around my furniture every week. Giving your furniture a new place can quickly change the dynamics of the room. I ended up moving my bed into a small window nook that receives the most sunlight. In the other nook, I added a bean bag and lamp as a designated reading nook for the new books I hope to tackle.
While the best option would be to separate your workspace and your sleep space, this might not be an option for many of us sharing tight spaces with our families. I placed my desk to face away from my bed to create somewhat of a division between the two. This corner of my room reminds me of what I left behind in college. In an attempt to divert my declining motivation for an online class, I have focused a lot of my effort on creating a study space that feels inviting. I designated places for my books, papers, printer and, of course, a good chair.
When it comes to crafting a comfortable room, I found myself focusing on two elements: light and color. Lighting is what makes the most difference. Natural sunlight is always a benefit. Placing my bed in the line of sunlight sends me a bit of positivity to start yet another day in this confusing time. I set up two lamps on opposing sides of the room to keep an even cast of light throughout the space when the natural light fades. Finally, what room is complete without a set of Christmas lights? I carefully strung my string lights around my bed nook to create an enchanting space for my late-night writing.
The second important aspect is color. It is important to have a color palette for your space that feels inviting and reflects your own taste. My walls are a lighter shade of green, and I decided to use mostly white and purple shades as accents. An easy option is to turn to a color wheel to find colors that complement each other well. Accent colors can be implemented through pillows, wall art and blankets.
I printed my favorite college photos to supplement the high school polaroids that were already stationed by my window. With the help of a few more prints and posters, I joined the pieces of my college self with the high school room I knew so well. Although we cannot shop outside of our houses, I found nearly all of my art pieces at Goodwill for under five dollars to create my gallery wall. An easy alternative would be to find patterns, places and people you find inspirational online to print and frame.
The end product reflects the child I once was as well as the adult I have become. My changing style has made itself known in the same room I spent growing up and developing my sense of self. Every high school morning spent getting ready at my vanity ended in nights focused at my desk. I now find myself reliving this old routine, only this time in a room that feels refreshed since leaving. Having a room that feels cozy yet productive can make sheltering-in-place just a bit easier.