The mornings are crisp, the glorious sun takes a little longer gracing us with it’s light and I’m dreaming of pumpkin, that can only mean one thing … its nearly September and back to school time! I have always loved this time of year, as a child it meant seeing friends I hadn’t seen over the summer, new clothes and school supplies, and getting to organize my desk or locker (yes, that’s right – the thought of organizing made me loose sleep) and as an adult, there’s a real sense of new beginnings and fresh starts, even more so than January.
This time of year can also mean relocating for a lot of people – moving into new apartments or dorm rooms in preparation for school, practicums, residency’s etc. So I’ve pulled together some tips and tricks to making your new home truly yours for as long as you’re going to be there, in ways that aren’t going to upset your landlord or floor coordinator.
Often times when renting a space, the inclination is to hold off on buying ‘real’ furniture until you get to your ‘forever’ home. I say invest in key pieces, especially those that could be re-purposed – a smaller dinning table could be used as a desk in a larger space, a compact sofa could fit into a den in another home. Investing in quality furniture now will help to create a space that feels comfortable and like a home. Think about multi-functional furniture, for instance in a dorm room a futon can be a sofa by day and a comfy bed by night.
Don’t be limited by existing configurations of furniture in a dorm room, feel free to move pieces around to find a set up that works best for you and your needs. For instance setting up your bed as a daybed offers seating options for when friends stop by and putting the dresser in the closet can open up a space.
Get comfortable with a paint brush! Often rental rules impose limitations on the types of wall treatments that can be done, even if your property allows for wallpaper, I suggest opting for paint and/or wall decals instead. Putting up wallpaper only to have to remove it before you leave is a lot of unnecessary work and money. You can easily and affordable inject your personality with a can of paint and some fun decals or stencils. Do get your landlord’s permission before painting and be prepared for the possibility of having to prime the walls before you leave.
Storage is often at a premium in both apartment rentals and dorm rooms. Be creative, use every possible spot – under the bed, above the refrigerator, etc. When it comes to storage, going vertical is key. Invest in sturdy boxes that can be stacked and labelled. Adding a wall mounted shelf above the desk in a dorm room can be a great spot for extra supplies and books. If you’re tempted to invest in storage furniture, go for free standing cabinets, don’t invest in built ins – not worth the investment and very difficult to take with you. Think of multi-functional pieces, such as storage ottomans, which can be used as a coffee table or extra seating while offering discrete storage.
Inject your personality with throw pillows, artwork, and rugs – inexpensive ways to express yourself that can be taken with you when you leave. If you’re sharing a dorm room with a roommate, go for an overall neutral palette and then inject some of your favorite colour in the accessories, that way you’ll avoid creating a clashing environment or decorating your half of the room in your roommates most despised colour. You may want to connect with your roommate (if possible) prior to moving in as well to help coordinate a look.
A great place to invest is lighting and hardware – both can be taken with you and easily add personality. Adding a dimmer to your lighting can help create ambiance, manipulating the feel of a space, while saving money on your power bill.
Above all, have fun with the process and enjoy the new beginning and fresh start! I’d love to see what you come up, feel free to post your pictures in the comments below!