How to cozy up a living space

With changing times, changing living situations often follow – whether for uni or studies, for work or just to get a change of air. Since August 2015 I’ve lived in eight different homes and flats (two of them being family homes my family moved out of and into) and I’ve had to pretty quickly cosy up some very temporary spaces.

This is especially a student problem, isn’t it. You move to a completely new place, you’re assigned your little shoe box room in a shared flat, everything around you is new and scary and exciting, and you need to make your space feel as safe and homely, as quickly as possible! This has to happen on a student budget, of course, and also without knocking any nails into the walls, so you can (hopefully) get your deposit back at the end of the year.

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As I’m pondering on past uni experiences, and also trying to figure out what’s lacking in this home of mine to make it as cosy as I want it to be, I figured we could have a little chat about stuff I rely on to make a temporary living space feel like home for however short a period of time you’ll be staying there.

Please excuse the quality of the pictures – some of these are taken on various phones throughout the last 4 years.

Also, this post is mainly focusing on people moving into halls or shared living spaces, who can’t really enjoy the luxury of a sitting room. We cram our studies, dinners and leisure time into our tiny bedrooms like warriors or not at all.

1. Bedding

I love bedding and the feeling of fresh sheets. Soft duvet covers, pillow covers that smells of detergent, come on, what’s not to love? Finding some soft bed sheets to put on your bed is one of the most important ways of making a small living space feel homely. I’ve got this set that I really love, which was the first set I ever bought myself when I moved into my first uni flat. It proper transforms any space into Home with a capital H.
Bedding is key.

2. Light sources

fairylights

Overhead lights in student accommodation or small flats are often very bright and white, and not really helpful when you want that soft, relaxing vibe. To combat this I’ve got the most cliched answer ever; fairy lights.

In all four of my uni flats I’ve filled my room with fairy lights, floor to ceiling, and used this as my only light source. They fit everywhere, around your bed, over the window, by the doors and around your desk, just to name a few places. It creates such a dreamlike atmosphere; you can lay in bed and watch all these “stars” light up your ceiling. Fairy lights are also great background lighting for tea and movie nights with your friends. Just be prepared for the hassle it is taking them down at the end of your tenancy.

Now that I’m living on my own I also light a lot of candles. If you do this too, please let’s all focus on fire safety; never leave candles burning without supervision and never leave anything flammable in close vicinity of your candles. Also, if you’re in student accommodation you’re most likely NOT allowed to light candles (and for good reason). Please adhere to these rules; you do not want to be the reason for that fire alarm evacuation of your entire building, just because you wanted to snuggle up with some candles. Student housing fire alarms are awfully sensitive(because safety), so just be careful.

3. Books and DVDs

I love the feeling a good bookshelf leaves on a room. All the backs of the books shroud the room in this instant feeling of comfort and reminds you to take a deep breath. Or, at least, that’s how bookshelves make me feel. If you want to have a lil nosy around my “home-bookshelf” you can click here. However, you don’t have to have a huge big bookshelf to let the books make your living space feel cosy; you just need your favourites. Moving out or moving to a new place is inevitable gonna leave you feeling a little bit small and a little bit lonely at some point, and having the familiar words of your favourite books to hide in for a little while is always a great comfort, that adds to a temporary home’s homeliness.

4. Plants!!

I’ve always struggled with keeping plants alive. A friend of mine, however, managed to keep an orchid alive on her window sill for an entire year, and at the end of the year she put it in a tea mug and brought it with her on the plane home. As she managed to fly from Heathrow to Oslo airport with an orchid on her lap, I feel like I need to up my game and keep some cacti alive this year.

(image from Pixabay)

Jokes aside, a bit of green works wonders for keeping your room feel fresh. Also, having some plants to take care of and remember to water (!!) is a great way of making yourself feel responsible for your room and your living space. Plus, plants look really cute and you can get lots of different colours and types!

5. Picture walls

Pictures are important. Pictures, posters, tickets, memories. I’ve always kept a pretty intense picture wall in all my uni flats, with lots of pictures of the people I love and miss from home, alongside the new friends I made while at uni. I plastered the wardrobe doors my last flat with pictures, poems, tickets and art works from some of my favourite books. Displaying stuff you appreciate and pictures of the people you love, is a great way of cosying up a space.

Queens 2
This is the desk area of my first ever uni flat.. How I ever got anything done in that chaos is a mystery to me, but it is still a mix of old friends and new friends and family old and new.

What are your favourite tips for making a small and temporary home feel comfortable and lived in? I’d love to hear what’ve gotten you through student halls and dorm rooms through the years!

Have a wonderful day,

-Andrea

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Spring Clean

Come spring, I want to write.
To sweep the cobwebs off of old ideas, place flowers behind my ears and pencils in my pockets. To make up dialogues that have laid dormant and put soul in characters’ eyes. I want to shake winter out of tense shoulders, to pull snow and sleep out of the tips of my fingers, I want to see new places and paint my nails.
Every winter it’s like the cold bogs me down, drowns ideas under the frost, lets fog and rain take a hold of all the things I want to do.
But come April, the sun starts to peek in through the window, like a shy child hiding behind the clouds. Bit by bit, it becomes more confident, and bit by bit, it dares peek out behind its mum’s skirt. And just like that, I want to write. I want to clean up my space, put on fresh bed sheets, air out my room, air out my thoughts. I want to open all the doors and the windows, put loud music on, move around and clear out my head.
I want to create.

-Andrea

“On not fighting nightmares”

Written in August 2017

On nights like this
I press my back up against the wall.
I let the edges of my bed indent my skin,
the space is too small for my limbs and your nightmares.

If you’d let me, we’d stay up all night,
and I’d paint galaxies on the back of your hands to remind you how inferior nightmares are.
But I cannot wake you or make the swirls in your breath go away,
so I shrink further back, I give you space.
There is nothing I can do to make it better.

Instead, I place soft fingers on your back
and write bright letters on the dark ceiling,
for you to see in a dream.
I turn to the moon for spelling
and to the stars for punctuation,
and wait for morning
in silence.

-Andrea

Journal #15, Some days

Some days, “exam revision” turns into “the weather’s so lovely today,”
and “I should really finish this paper,” becomes “you feeling ice cream?”
Long hours hunched over books have to make space for hours sat in silence on the docs, phrase structure grammar admits defeat to sea gulls and the sound of lazy waves, and I can feel myself take a deep breath.

Some days. Some days. Days like today.
When hands clutch ice cream cones instead of pencils
and “to do” lists are called “today I may” lists,
those days I like to stop for a second,
lap up some early April sun with closed eyes and a relaxed jaw,
and remind myself
that life is pretty great.


-Andrea

“Maybe I Like Honey After All”

“We used to come here for Easter sermons as children, but back then the stone building had stood straight-backed like a school teacher, hushing every childish giggle. Now the doors were wide open and the entrance was decorated with draping curtains of pink and yellow.”

Hello!
This post is my 100th post on this blog! This page has been up and running since February 5th 2018, so that means a 100 posts in exactly one year and two months. Seeing as this blog began as an assignment for my former Creative Writing degree, I figured today I could show you a piece of writing I handed in as coursework, around the same time I started this blog!

So, the piece is from a module called Travel Writing, and it was written in January 2018. It is about the notion of “holidays at home”, and the ways that your hometown can surprise you when you start really looking at all the places you’re so used to existing in. For me, it was going to a festival my hometown puts on every year, for the first time a couple of years ago. Have a read, and thanks for sticking with me for a hundred posts!

-Andrea

“Maybe I Like Honey After All”

                 “You don’t have to buy the honey; you just have to taste it.” She grabbed my arm as I walked past her and shoved a spoon dripping with fresh honey into my hands. “Only local bees.”
I called her the Bee lady in my head. Her hands were rough; a worker’s hands. Wrinkles followed the lines of her face, the price of a long life well lived, and silver hair was gathered in a braid that hung down her back. She had decorated it with flowers for the occasion, greens and pinks and yellows.
“So many people think they don’t like honey at all, but that’s because they’ve only ever tasted the store bought kind.” She shook her head, making the braid dance.

                  “They don’t know how real honey actually tastes.” She winked at me. I thanked her and was about to leave, but she insisted on another spoonful.

                  I bought a jar.

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March Wrap Up

Hello, you!

I’m trying to come up with fancier names for these monthly wrap up posts, but for now the titles are what it says on the tin!

I know we all say this, but where did March even go? Just a minute ago I commented on how February blew past without me noticing and suddenly it’s April. I can also proudly proclaim that I only fell for one April’s Fools joke yesterday, which for ‘lil gullible me is a new record.

However, as March has waved goodbye, here’s my monthly video; little snippets and tidbits that I’m hoping to look back on one day and go “oh, I remember that!” Loved ones were hugged, many mugs of teas were drunk and new challenges were faced head on. March was a good one.

I hope you’re having a wonderful day,
-Andrea

Books that’ll get a Second Chance

Hello, my name is Andrea and I’m a book hoarder.

Of course, I wouldn’t really call myself that, but with a book collection that just crossed the 600 book-mark (he he, see what I did there?) I can see why I maybe should. I think books make a room cosy, a living space warm, and a temporary small student flat a home. The reason why I hold on to a lot of these books are because I really like them, and keep coming back to them. There are books on my shelves with more notes scribbled in the margin than actual ink on the paper, and books so tattered that they’re bandaged with three years worth of tape. However, there are also books that never received the love and care they deserve, and I have no issue letting go of books I don’t enjoy or that I can’t see myself reading again in the nearest future.

The reason I’m going on about my book keeping habits is because one of the student organisations at my uni is doing a book swap day; you bring in 1 to 10 books you don’t enjoy anymore (but someone else might love), and get to swap them with the same amount of new (to you) books.

So I thought we could have a look at some of the books I’m letting go of this time. Mind you, these are picked from the small collection of books I keep on the shelves in my uni room, which is why there aren’t more.

I also really want to point out that I’m not giving any of these away because they’re bad books! Maybe the story or the voice just didn’t resonate with me, maybe I just can’t make the time to get into it, or maybe it’s just not my cup of tea anymore. No matter the reason, these are all good books that will get a second chance at spellbinding someone else.

Fire and Heist by Sarah Beth Durst

This book just didn’t grab my attention the way I hoped a badass fantasy story about people who are able to turn into dragons would. I really liked the premise, but I just didn’t feel like it focused on the interesting parts of the story. I was also unsure about the tone of it, sometimes it felt like it played too much into humour and comedic timing, when the situation surrounding the dialogue or comment was quite serious. However, this story has a lot of potential of becoming someone else’s new favourite book, and so hopefully someone’ll pick it up on Monday!

Blurb:
In Sky Hawkins’s family, leading your first heist is a major milestone–even more so than learning to talk, walk, or do long division. It’s a chance to gain power and acceptance within your family, and within society. But stealing your first treasure can be complicated, especially when you’re a wyvern–a human capable of turning into a dragon.

Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

I must admit that I haven’t really given this book as much of a chance as I should have. I often struggle with enjoying post-apocalyptic stories, and I must admit that the blurb beginning with words like “Defeated, crushed and driven almost to extinction” didn’t reel me in, it felt a bit too heavy, if that makes sense? But I’m sure most of this can also be accredited to me just not being that much into Sci-Fi. I’m sure someone who are is gonna love this, though.

Blurb:
Defeated, crushed, and driven almost to extinction, the remnants of the human race are trapped on a planet that is constantly attacked by mysterious alien starfighters. Spensa, a teenage girl living among them, longs to be a pilot. When she discovers the wreckage of an ancient ship, she realizes this dream might be possible—assuming she can repair the ship, navigate flight school, and (perhaps most importantly) persuade the strange machine to help her. Because this ship, uniquely, appears to have a soul.

Wicca by Harmony Nice

I’ve always been really interested in nature religions and find Wicca intriguing to read about. I love the idea of whatever you put out into the world you’ll receive threefold and being in balance with oneself and with nature. I’m not a religious person though, and even though I’m really interested in Wicca as a concept, I’m not looking for a religion to practice. This book became a bit too handbook-y for me, which makes sense as the undertitle is A modern guide to witchcraft and magick. Still, a well written book that’s gonna bring someone else a lot of joy.

In the end I parted with six books for the exchange; the ones shown above, a collection of Norwegian essays, and a couple more novels. Books are a great and wonderful hobby, but always buying new ones is also a form of consumerism. I’m not saying you shouldn’t buy new books or get a book you’ve been waiting for, as soon as it hit the shelves of your local bookstore, but it is worth it to maybe have a look in a charity shop or a second hand shop, or a book exchange like this one, – they may surprise you with wonderful new reads. The second part of the book exchange is on Monday, and I’m so excited to both get to see my old books get picked up by new, excited hands, and to maybe pick up some new favourites myself; favourites which someone else have decided deserve a second chance.

Have a wonderful day,
-Andrea