this summer i packed a few suitcases and moved across canada, from ontario to vancouver. the reason for my move: to spend the year at UBC as a visiting student.
if you’re a student who has just moved far enough away that you had to leave behind most of your prized possessions, then you’re probably faced with relatively bleak living quarters in your new space. because you’re a student, this also means that you’re probably not very financially equipped, at least that was my case.
i moved to this great little studio apartment, but because i am only spending the year in vancouver, it didn’t necessarily make sense to spend a ton of money making my place look cozy, ya dig?
there were a couple of problems with this situation: i am, by nature, a bit of a pack rat; i like having my personal belongings around me, and i feel more at home with the busyness and clutter of life. no, you will not find me on one of those hoarders shows, but i definitely like to be surrounded by possessions that i feel represent me. another problem that i was faced with was entertaining; it’s a little bit hard to make friends when you’re inviting them into the empty, white box that you call an apartment…and they probably associate with a mental institution.
i wanted things on my walls, a dresser top covered with intentionally-placed “junk” and more importantly, i wanted these objects to be special to me, to make me feel at home. on a tight budget, and not wanting to get things that i would just have to sell or throw out in nine months, i evaluated what i already had:
photos, photos, photos. for the last two years or so, i have only used disposable cameras because i was sick of never having tangible evidence of my experiences. this came in handy while covering unused wall space, and it also gives guests something fun to look at. note: i always put the funniest, most unflattering ones up; they are the best to look at.
letters and drawings that my family members had sent me became artistic posters and constant reminders of their presence when i was missing them. i am lucky enough that my little cousin has a great hand with crayons, and that i have a grandmother who still uses a typewriter, and only ever on recycled paper, meaning they usually have random stains or other notes on them. both of these things, again, make interesting focal points on any wall.
if you don’t have letters or drawings being sent to you: make your own! i have done a couple really poor drawings, but also really simplistic ones, and when put into a cluster of other things, they become more exciting to look at.
the most commonly used, cheap, “girly” wall-filler is probably magazine clippings. i did use some magazine clippings, but instead of putting katy perry’s (ugkk) face all over my walls, i used landscapes and funky home decor. i also used mixed media for this, incorporating newspaper pictures and comics, just to balance out the vibe.
finally, i decided to use my clothing, bags, and coats as art. this is a great way to both store things, while also making your room look better. just buy a hook and vuala!
another place i always raid for fun objects is the salvation army, because they have a number of awesome, cheap things you can use, such as plates to hang on your wall. i also have a ton of mason jars that can be turned into candles, or pretty much anything else, and i make sure to bring my collection of books where ever i move, because they instantly bulk up any empty space.
this photo of a wall in my apartment doesn’t look FANTASTIC, ill give you that, but it is better than blank.