By: Ariel Henley
In January last year, I moved to England for six months. I lived in a little house just outside of London with four other people. I attended University, traveled, and met some of the most wonderful individuals.
Where I lived, though- in a little house just outside of London- was old and run down. On the first night, I called my mother and, between tears, told her that my room looked like something straight out of The Shining. The floors creaked and the windows never quite closed all the way. Spiders lived in the cracks of the bathroom’s linoleum. Patches of the walls were brown with stucco to cover the holes in the white walls. My bed was nailed to the floor and my closet door only opened half way. My house was a part of one of the only complexes in the area that hadn’t been renovated in over fifty years.
My room was not a space that felt like home. It was not a space that felt representative of who I was. It was a space that didn’t feel like it was in any way mine.
My mother told me not to focus on where I was living, but to focus, instead, on where I was. You’re in Europe, Belle. She would tell me. Go explore.
And so I did.
I traveled to nine different countries over those six months, and each time, picked up items and trinkets from the local vendors to bring back to my corner room in my little house.
I bought large canvas prints of city illustrations while I was in Bath. I picked up vintage maps while I was in Edinburgh. I brought frames home from Cork and old editions of my favorite books from Paris. Slowly, I turned a room with little charm into something magical. I slowly made it mine.
When I left England at the end of May, I moved back to the U.S. and into an apartment with three of my closest friends. The ceilings were high and the walls were a crisp white, and I found myself suddenly missing my run- down corner room in England.
As I began to set-up my new apartment, I realized it wasn’t the room that I had lived in, in England for six months that I missed. It was the people. I simply missed traveling across Europe with some of my very best friends. I missed walking to class and seeing bunnies covering the greens. I missed waking up to the sun and to the birds chirping. I missed the view of the river that ran through town. I missed the cafes and the accents and the traveling by train. I missed the poetry that seemed absent from the bare, white walls and high ceilings of my new apartment.
I unpacked in an attempt to create a space that felt like home and that felt like me. I hung the large canvas prints of city illustrations that I picked up in Bath. I created a collage on my wall of the vintage maps I found at a hole in the wall shop in Edinburgh. I placed pictures in the frames I found in Ireland and set my favorite books that I found in Paris on my desk next to a vase of sunflowers that I bought at the farmer’s market. Once again, I turned a room with little charm into something I saw as being magical.
Room decoration isn’t about copying the latest trends or finding the most expensive and chic items to adorn your walls. It’s about creating a space that is true to who you are. It is about creating a space that puts you at ease and allows you to be the best possible version of yourself.
I now wake up to the sun shining through my window and I find myself lying in bed in the mornings, for just a few extra minutes, to absorb the peacefulness. I glance around at the walls and the photos, and am reminded of who I am, places I’ve been, and the person that I’m on my way to becoming. Decorating your room should be about creating a space that documents who you are, but still embraces growth and change.