I always get a little nostalgic around this time of year. The oppressive verdant heat reminds me of high school and college band camp. The back-to-school displays in stores remind me of the excitement of getting back in the classroom. (I was a weird kid, don’t question it.) The music on the radio, wrapped in late-summer haze, reminds me of that first summer my partner and I were married.
I used to think it was odd that I associate this time of year with nesting, but it makes sense to me now. It was this time of year when my partner and I started living and making a home together; when we moved to a new city for my first job; the time every year I returned to college and started making my dorm room my own.
Moving to a new space – whether it’s a dorm room, an apartment, a city – can be overwhelming and isolating if that space doesn’t feel like your own. Luckily, there are a couple of simple (and cheap!) little things you can do transform those spaces into your safety nests, whether you’re staying there for three weeks or thirty years.
A Way to Play Music
I don’t know about you, but I’m practically always listening to music, whether I’m working, making dinner, cleaning, or just killing time laying about in my pajamas.
The first thing I do when I enter a space – surely, the first thing I did whenever I moved into a dorm – is to play my favorite music. (Pro tip: This is a great way to meet cool people who like the same music as you in your dorm. You’re welcome.) The quickest and easiest way to make your room feel like home for you is to fill it with your favorite music.
And sure, you can play music on your laptop or put your phone in a cup, but that’s not going to cut it forever, is it?
You can get Bluetooth speakers at basically any price point that give you a bang for your buck (no pun intended). For instance, the one above from Amazon is only $16 and has 4,000+ positive reviews! Plus, it’s super cute.
If you’re in more permanent situation (read: an apartment or home) do what works best for you, whether that’s a record player, a killer sound system, or, again, the same little ol’ Bluetooth speaker that moves from room to room.
A Cozy Corner
Whether you’re in a super cramped dorm room, an apartment with roommates, or living with a partner, it’s important to stake out a space that’s just for you, that you have complete control of and that you can retreat to when you need to recenter.
Depending on what kind of person you are, this could be your desk in your dorm room and a cork board covered with pictures of your family; in your apartment, a yoga nook with your mat, incense, a mandala, and maybe a plant friend; a cozy reading nook with your favorite armchair, a bookshelf, candles. This could even be your bathroom, full of bath bombs and candles and other goodies for when you go in full self-care mode.
Check in with yourself and ask what sort of things you like to do when you need to recenter. Then, carve out that space in your home.
If you live with others, you may want to communicate the importance of that space to them. This way, they know not to disturb it or to respect your privacy when you hang out there.
Every once in a while I’ll wander into a friend’s home and it’ll just be a little…off. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it’s unsettling me. I can’t relax, like it’s a blank slate without any imprint of the person I love in it. And then it hits me.
There’s no artwork, no photos, no decoration. Nothing.
I get that everyone is different, and not everyone cares as much about `*~self expression~*’ as I do. But when you’re living in an apartment or dorm and you can’t alter the walls in any way, hanging artwork or photos of loved ones or pictures drawn in crayons by your little cousins is a great way to invest some loving energy into your space. (With command strips, natch; don’t get fined by your college ‘cuz of me, thanks.)
If you’re wondering how to make your room feel like home, this is the #1 thing you can do.
The nice thing about artwork is that it doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. (See my post on How to Acquire Art on a College Budget for full details!)
In short, check out local flea markets, art fairs, maker’s markets or just the local option on Etsy if you want to support local artists; prints from places like Society6 and redbubble are generally pretty reasonable, too. Lastly, you could also try DIY-ing something on your own for something extra special.
Nothing makes a place feel home-y quite like a familiar, lovely scent; especially if you’re inheriting a dorm room that still smells vaguely like the last resident’s feet.
You may not be able to burn candles in your dorm room, but you normally can diffuse essential oils; some diffusers, like the marble print one below, run pretty cheap – just be sure you ask your roommate before you diffuse eucalyptus oil, or whatever.
If you live in an apartment or a home, obvi, candles, incense, oil diffusers and scented plug-ins are all lovely choices for making your home smell however you want to make it smell.
You already know what you love, but I’m always a big fan of scents that reflect either the mood you want to have or your surroundings. So for summer, I like lilac, blackberry, and herby scents.
What do you think of our guide to how to make your room feel like home?
What do you do to make your room feel like home? Have you tried any of these tips? Let me know in the comments below?