Our homes should be more than just a place where we get ready, eat, sleep and repeat. They’re meant to be a reflection of who we are, and if pulled together and personalized, everything else in your life begins to feel the same way. You don’t have to be Marie Kondo or a Property Brother to execute top-notch home improvement—just a little bit of creativity and willingness to take some time for you.
Read on for 15 ways to improve your home, and therefore yourself.
1. Sip and paint night
Grab your squad, a couple of bottles of rosé and some cheap supplies from your local craft store because we’re going full-on Picasso. Having a painting night with your friends not only guarantees one of a kind, beautiful and/or hilariously tragic art for your décor needs, but also a lovely evening with the people you love. “I’ve had wine and painting nights a couple of times and they’ve all been super fun,” University of Washington sophomore Kaylee Mellgren said. “My favorite thing on my wall is something my friend painted that night.” Plus, your tipsiness will add a creative twist and add a possibly needed confidence to your paintbrush. For my non-artist readers, I recommend painting abstract portraits of one another or a scene of your and your friends’ most memorable night together inspired by The Last Supper.
2. Oh, this couch? You can’t get it, it’s thrifted. Sorry.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need thousands of dollars to create your dream bedroom or apartment. Thrifting for your furniture from spots like Goodwill, Salvation Army and local vintage stores can result in unique finds you won’t be able to get anywhere else, and for a college-student-friendly price. Spend a whole day mapping out the best stores near you and snatching up those gems to give your space a little bit of spice. Ikea and Home Goods? Yawn.
3. Use Pinterest for inspo
You may have a very specific yet simultaneously vague vision of what you want your space to look like. The aesthetic or vibe, if you will. But, you’re unable to accurately portray the idea going on your head. Have no fear, Pinterest is here. Not only can hours of scrolling through pictures and pinning to your boards give you a better idea of what exactly you’re looking for, but you’ll also find direct links to exact pieces if you find something particularly tickling your fancy. Inspiration hunting via Pinterest is calming and therapeutic—don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
4. Get candles in every scent. Literally. Every. Scent.
I don’t know who needs to hear this, but your Bath and Body Works candle collection should’ve been left in 2016. When I tell you every scent on Earth has been made into a candle, I’m not exaggerating in the slightest. “I have a candle in my dorm from the brand Homesick that’s supposed to smell like LA, and I always get compliments on it and it reminds me of home.” said CU Boulder sophomore Olivia Root. Don’t settle for the nauseating smells from the home of glittery hand sanitizer, or even worse—Yankee. Forget about basic scents! Plus, someone asking what candle you have burning and you respond “Harry Styles” is a lovely conversation starter. Some personal favorites I’ve found on the internet give off the aroma of Wine and Sweatpants, Timothee Chalamet, Grandma’s Kitchen and Rain.
5. Don’t underestimate the power of whiteboard calendars
Combine your productivity, organization and lovely interior design skills by investing in a whiteboard calendar to hang up in your home. You’ll be forced to remember easily forgettable yet important to do’s easily ignored in a tiny planner, feel like you have your s—t together and guests who come over will look at you and think, “Damn, I need to get my s—t together, too.” Hop back on to our trusty source of creativity, Pinterest, and look for ways to make your board look ridiculously organized, and therefore, aesthetically pleasing.
6. Don’t jam-pack all four walls
Decorating your bedroom walls in a tasteful yet fun way takes genuine skill, and no one will convince me otherwise. I have personally spent years trying to perfect the mess of posters, photos and décor in my bedroom, but consistently end up becoming frustrated and end up just with 10 sad Polaroids from a Fujifilm camera (if you know, you know). However, be smarter than me and draw your attention towards just one spot to help ease the stress. Create a statement wall strategically with all of your favorite pieces. Your space will feel less cluttered, look really cool and you’ll feel quite accomplished upon completion.
7. Switch up your furniture layout
While moving your furniture around could very well result in excessive sweating and panting, the work is well worth the grind. A simple switch around can completely change your space’s entire feeling and can provide a fresh start type of mentality. One time, I moved my bed to the opposite side of the room out of boredom, and the way the natural light hit my face in the new position single-handedly made me a morning person. Even the smallest moves can make the biggest difference.
8. Get to writing (on your mirrors)
Who’s the best person to remind you, you are that bitch? Yourself. Buying mirror markers to write with, or simply putting sticky notes on the mirror you use most to write affirmations can be an easy way to incorporate self-love into your daily routine. Everyone uses different methods to hype themselves up, so the quotes can range anywhere from “remember you’re beautiful” to “I’m that b-tch, been that b-tch, still that b-tch, will forever be that b-tch” (thank you Megan Thee Stallion). Whatever your energy, look into the mirror, then at your cute reminder and love what you see.
9. Turn it up
Listening to music through your phone or laptop has never done a song any song justice. Music being blasted through a speaker changes the experience completely, the rest of the world is completely shut out from your moment. You definitely don’t need a boujee surround sound feature, but a simple portable speaker can and will do the trick. Plus, listening to music off of a laptop when you have people over doesn’t work at all. Save yourself from the oddly quiet pre-games.
10. Reorganize rather than declutter
If you’re anything like me, you have an odd sentimental attachment to 90 percent of the belongings in your bedroom and refuse to get rid of things other people wouldn’t think twice about. Yes, I have every single birthday card I’ve been given since I was eight years old–and what about it? You don’t necessarily have to force yourself to purge everything Marie Kondo style, but just be organized and resourceful. Take the time to gather the things you cherish but don’t need on display and find more discreet spots to keep them. You’d be surprised how much one can fit in a cute, straw bin from Target next to their desk… a frightening amount of birthday cards.
11. Happy Holidays!
Christmas, Valentine’s, Thanksgiving, Hannukah, St. Patrick’s and more. Name the holiday — your nearest department store sells the cheesiest decorations made for throwing away in your trashcan the next morning. Instead of wasting money every year, find a couple of staple decorations for anything you celebrate to hold the house down. Browse the internet or search for some cool vintage finds because your space should have decorations that stand out and can be sustainably used for future years. What’s a holiday without decorations? Just another day that ends in -y, baby.
12. Don’t forget: your kitchen needs love too
Ask yourself: how many times have you walked into a kitchen and thought, “Wow, this is decorated so uniquely and fun?” Exactly. Break the norm and throw up a poster or two, search for some funky magnets, hang cool lights or throw in a couple of weird knickknacks. Maybe even paint your cupboards a cool color (if you can) because life is short and green cabinets could prove to be a good idea. Whatever your style may be, don’t be afraid to expand the vibe into the kitchen. Make your cooking space stand out, because she needs love, too.
13. Incorporate t0ns of succulents
Young people kill plants— period. So, opt for greenery requiring minimal effort while still adding liveliness to your space. “I have hella succulents in my room at home and at school,” Brown University sophomore Kaylah Brown said. “They look cute and just help make the room feel a lot nicer and more home-y.” You’ll feel like you’re caring for other living beings, while in reality, a mini cactus requires an alarmingly low amount of effort to keep alive. Nevertheless, any plants add a touch of nature to even the most crammed rooms in the most congested cities. Look into getting mini pots and holders for them to go along with your Pinterest inspired aesthetic, too.
14. Sign the guest book
Imagine the guest book you sign at a wedding for the couple getting married, but instead full of messages from your friends after a Friday night of drinking games and Taco Bell. Having something for everyone who comes into your home to leave their mark in acts as a memory book of all the times you’ve had with the people you love. Maybe even get a photo book filled with photos of you and your roommates if you really want to go all in. I had one of these at my birthday party a couple of years ago and still look back and laugh—and that’s just from one night. Imagine the possibilities of stupid s—t written inside over an extended period of time. Beautiful.
15. Add a chalkboard wall moment
The chalkboard wall, in my humble opinion, provides the best way to keep your living space fun, adaptable to how you’re feeling and interactive with your friends and family. Buy a can of chalkboard paint, pick your spot, and prepare for drawings, quotes, notes and crude doodles (from personal experience) from the floor to the ceiling. At the end of the day, your house feels like home once the people you love leave their mark, so hand them some chalk and let them go to town. No one’s space in the entire world can look exactly like yours.