Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Creating a Sanctuary: How to Make the Most of Your Halls of Residence

Images thanks to Stacy Michelle

In the next couple of weeks many a fresher will be descending upon their adopted cities of study. Most of them will be settling into halls.

Ah halls… you get a boxy little room, free of even a shred of character, scraped clean by an anonymous army of cleaners, with its previous inhabitant’s presence only indicated by the odd blue tack stain. You arrive, load it up with all your Ikea ‘essentials’ and see your parents off with a melancholy wave. Now what? Is this little room… home? ‘fraid so.

Oh, but the potential that’s afoot! The wonders that wait! Think of the many personalised touches of elegance you can add purely for your own enjoyment… Just because you’re a student, doesn’t mean there’s an unwritten requirement to whack up a Che Guevara poster, light some incense and be done with it. That’s certainly not what Charade is about. Why not have a think how can you make your little plot the perfect place for living, loving, studying and generally being fabulous? With a little planning, your room can be your ideal sanctuary. Here are my ideas.

A Place to Study

Hey, don’t shoot the messenger, but it is pretty much why you’re at uni (at least I hope it is!) so your room should be a reflection of that. A good, clear desk space is vital, plus plenty of shelving or storage boxes that are easily accessible for books and folders. Even if you're one of those people to which mess comes naturally, and you're Ok with that, make that extra effort to keep an organised study space amidst the clutter - don't let it be another excuse for not getting that essay in on time! Also - get a plant! It makes perfect feng shui sense, provides your brain with necessary oxygen and, well, they’re pretty...

A Place to Relax

Uni life (as much as the contrary is suggested) does have its stresses and strains. Ideally, your room should be a cosy space, a space that’s all your own, a space that comforts you at the end of ‘one of those days’ which you’re bound to have, particularly in the first few weeks. Make your bed as comfy as possible; load it with pillows and throws so it’s sleep-friendly, but also doubles as a couch in the day. Put up pictures of the people and things you love, hang some fairy lights. Put down a fluffy rug to wriggle your toes in first thing on those winter mornings – a sure-fire way to put a smile on your face! Set up a way to play your favourite music well, whether that be on a CD player, quality ipod dock or just through your laptop; nothing spells comfort better than the familiar, floating notes of your all time favourite tunes.

A Place to Inspire

These first months at uni will be some of the most exciting because, chances are, you’re at last involved in studying what you'd really love to do. Why not get inspired in your halls? Depending on what stirs your creative cogs, de-clutter your space or stuff it with all the many bits and pieces that make you go ‘wow’. Frame magazine cuttings in glass and clips for aesthetic inspiration. Scribble your favourite inspiring quotes on heart-shapes post-its and dot them in obvious places. Invest in a cork board, if you haven’t already, and smother it with all that is beautiful and inspiring to you. Pin up your short and long term goals whilst you’re at uni and consider them daily – the key to success!

A Place to Have Fun!

Your time at university should be as much about having fun as anything else – and don’t you forget it! Fill your room with the things that make you happy, whether that be cheeky kama sutra posters, infamous club night flyers, a beaded curtain, your old teddy, a big bowl of jelly beans, a castle of empty lager cans (ew!) a disco ball, your favourite music, a chin-up bar, a truck load of Hello Kitty stationary – whatever! Make it a place where you’ll love to spend time, and invite your new friends to share too.

More, more, more...

♥ EDIT: Positively Dorm Delicious - if you click one link, let it be this one!

Check out flickr for a little inspiration on Decoración, Work Spaces and being Pretty Organized.

A nice bit of reading on decorating your room here, although, it is focused on the American 'dorm' - just ignore the 'room mate' bit if you're from the UK, you don't have to worry about that!

50 Ways to Make Your Home More Organized, More Attractive, and More Efficient is a meaty article from LifeHack with some top tips.

If you find yourself really struggling to settle into your new space consider Help for the Hopelessly Homesick from Martin at The University Blog.

What are your plans for the perfect student pad? Or, if you're a 2nd or 3rd year - how did you make the most of your space in halls? Picture links are most definately welcome.


I Like You said...

Something that I do to add a little cheer to my dorm room is that my college makes lovely colorful printed posters for events. After I've been to the event and enjoyed it, I will frequently take down a poster in the hallway and display it in my room. They remind me of great author readings, fun times, and they are recycled and free and help declutter the campus. By the end of the year I am surrounded my all my memories of great nights. I think it's much more personal that some contrite band poster.

Anonymous said...

This is really old now I realise! When I was in halls I had fairy lights and a lamp to completely change the light in my room so that it instantly felt different from everyone elses and less like a travel lodge room. My other tip is to get the most colourful/pretty version of whatever you need, for example, I got glasses from Cargo which had little heart shapes in the glass so it instantly looked prettier than plain glasses. I also surrounded my desk area with beautiful pictures so that it a more friendly experience to sit and do work.

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