I don't imagine it to be a universal (or very critical) pain by any means, but I'd also like to think that I'm not alone in constantly wishing I lived in a more aesthetically personal space. I constantly rearrange things; stack this magazine here and those books there and those other books down there because the colors are too bright...

I've been known to take the labels off of plastic water bottles just so they look better on my desk, (PSA: always recycle!). It's a frivolous endeavor of course, but I'm emotionally invested. Nothing makes me more motivated or untroubled than a tidy, well styled room. It literally reduces my anxieties about school to come home to an aesthetically pleasing apartment.

All of this is to say, I've noticed some patterns in the way I make a new place feel more personal, without breaking the bank or even investing in real furniture.

1. Smells like home: I've talked about this before I think, but even a favorite scent can change the feel of a room full of Ikea. This encompasses everything from a scent diffuser to a candle to displaying your favorite perfume in a tray somewhere with your facial cleansers and toners.

2. Using the coffee table: Stacking things on your coffee table is by no means a new concept. However, I find that by seeing some of my favorite things there together, I feel so much more relaxed at the end of a hectic afternoon. You don't have to purchase pieces that specifically look good on the coffee table. I have a stack of magazines that stays there, but the rest of the items rotate constantly, moving around the apartment on a regular basis. Here's what it looked like last week:

3. Getting practical about flowers: I love having fresh flowers around (as do most people I think). They add a certain natural element that seems missing when you don't have any other plants around. Evidently it can add up if you buy them every week, even if you score a good deal at Trader Joe's. I decided to give up the sunflowers and tulips and opt for a more practical choice: baby's breath flowers. You can see a smidgeon of them in the picture. (Since then, they've been moved to the very bare and unused fireplace mantle.) I bought them about 2 weeks ago and they still look great!

4. Re-purposing: The bowl currently on the coffee table used to hold clementines on the kitchen counter. Since then it's been used to hold lemons, bananas, and most recently mail. I bought it for about $5 at Marshalls and I love it. It certainly helps to think about how you'll be able to use a certain item once you no longer use it in that context or even in that apartment.

5. Cohesion: I tend to buy decorations or stationary items that go together and "work" for the theme or color scheme I have going in that space. It helps to make a space look more put together. However, there is a difference between "matching" and "coordinating". Unless you live in an 18th century palace with chairs that match the walls (or have wallpaper that matches your curtains, headboard, etc.) I don't think everything should look like you bought it in a set. I think it's more about bringing out the similarities in items by the way you place them. Even having cutting boards reclined on the wall near your sink in a similar wooden shade as the basket where you keep you apples is a good example.

I don't know if anyone else actually prioritizes decor when they're in college but I certainly think it has gotten me past some difficult times. The purpose here was just to rant about something I feel very passionate about I suppose. But maybe it was helpful? Anyway, that's all folks!

- a.