Whether we’ve decided to go to grad school, have moved to a different country or state for a job, or have simply left our family home for the first thing we could afford, us millennials are usually not living somewhere we expect to stay forever. And while this might sound exciting, the truth is, that lingering sense of instability often causes us to basically live out of a suitcase (something to do with always being prepared to jump ship).
Living in small, shared spaces make us feel like we’re not allowed to unpack. Yet, unpacking and making yourself at home is of the utmost importance. This room, which is at the moment legitimately yours, is the only space you’ve got to recharge and refocus. At the end of the day, your 20s are a time of high stress levels thanks to anxiety-ridden life decisions. It is imperative to put your best foot forward every day.
In my personal experience, I have cozy dorm rooms to thank for helping me feel like I was ready to take on the world. Now that I’ve graduated and live off-campus, I’ve found that moving from one residence hall to the next helped me develop transferable skills that I am now using to set up my new closet room. These are some of the things I’m glad I learned beforehand:
- Consider the space: The biggest mistake most college students made was leaving the furniture arrangement as they found it. Don’t trip over the same stone in your post-grad life. Setting up your bed horizontally and against the wall will automatically free up usable space in your room. In what could only be described as a wide hallway, I managed to fit a futon, a desk and chair, a bed, and a dresser without obstructing the walk-in closet, the bedroom or the bathroom doors. Most likely, there is really only one way to fit everything. You just have to keep going until you find it.
- Decorate but don’t suffocate: To make a small space a home, follow two cardinal rules when decorating. First, don’t accessorize to the point of feeling overwhelmed (you don’t want your own bedroom to make you feel stressed). Second, add items that you have an emotional connection with—pictures of family and friends, posters of shows you like, scents that transport you, twinkly lights, etc. If it makes you want to curl up in your bed and stare at it, put it up.
- Prioritize comfort: Sure, when you’re living in a temporary space it’s hard to invest in maximum comfort furniture. But that doesn’t mean you have to sleep on a rigid mattress. Instead of splurging on memory foam, get an egg crate. Buy basic silverware and dinnerware, but invest in a couple of special mugs. Pick and choose which things you use the most and allow yourself to enjoy them.
- Avoid clutter: This last one hurts, but you might need to put the wallet away when temptation knocks on your door. Sometimes we see furniture or décor that we think would look fabulous in our ideal home, we forget we don’t live in said home, we buy them anyways, and are left with an extra yellow armchair that doesn’t fit anywhere. Be mindful of what actually belongs in your current space and what is meant to continue dwelling in dreams.
Your temporary home can be broken in like new shoes, and they will help you walk the walk you’re on at the moment. By the time you move out, you’ll realize that a little extra spending and organizing really went a long way in keeping you sane…and maybe even happy. So give it a try, go and really unpack in your little millennial hutch!