Transforming A New Space

Things are starting to feel real. I've officially moved into my new apartment, my dad went back to Toronto, school started today and I think the whole, "I'm on the other side of the world," thing is hitting me now. It's pretty much a given that moving to a new country or even a new city will cause you to feel some sort of home-sickness. Being in a new environment, specifically one that's thousands of miles away from what is familiar, can be extremely difficult.

I knew this would eventually happen so I'm glad that I came prepared. Looking around at plain walls and empty shelves is always a downer, especially when you're on your own. While I was packing for my exchange, I knew I would need to bring things to help me feel more comfortable in the Netherlands. However, bringing a bunch of room décor is obviously not ideal as there is limited space in luggage when moving abroad. I narrowed it down to several small items and a few inexpensive purchases upon arrival and it made a huge difference in my living space.

If you're moving somewhere new or are tired of your current room, hopefully this can give you some inspiration & ideas to transform your space! Here is how I managed to make my room feel more like home:

1) Printed Photos

I loved having photos of my friends and family scattered around my room in Toronto so I decided to bring along an envelope of my favourite ones to the Netherlands. Adding pictures around my bed area made me feel a lot more comfortable and is a constant reminder that I'm incredibly blessed to have amazing people in my life. It's almost as if they're here with me and I wouldn't have it any other way.


2) Motivational Wall/Memorabilia

My bedroom already had a whiteboard with magnets when I moved in so I decided to base it around words of encouragement/memories of my exchange. I pinned up my flight to Amsterdam as a reminder that I took a huge leap and risk by moving across the world. My best friend wrote me letters for situations and emotions that I may feel during my time abroad so I pinned up each one as a reminder that I have support and will open them along the way of my journey. I also added a picture of my favourite novel because reading has helped me move past extremely difficult situations. As the months go by, I plan to add new memories (concert tickets, polaroids, postcards, etc.) from this semester to the board. Having a motivation/memory wall is an easy way to collect all your favourite memories in one place. 


3) A Visible Planner/Calendar


Not only does this look cute on my desk, but it also serves a lot of purpose. Having a planner is a great way to jot down your goals and to-do lists. It helps me keep up with school while also adding in my travel itineraries and my ambitions for the upcoming months. When I'm not out and about, I leave it on my desk in eyes-view of my bed so that if I'm ever just wasting time, I'm reminded of how much more there is to do. Personally, I prefer an open calendar placed on a wall as well as an agenda but I haven't been able to find one here yet. A white-board calendar is perfect for keeping on top of schedules and organizing your time. You can usually find them in office supply stores or department stores. 


4) Affordable Décor

You don't necessarily need big items that take up a lot of room to transform your space. Things as small as candles and flowers can really change the environment that you live in. I've always loved having flowers in my room/apartment, simply because they look pretty. It's not always practical to keep buying fresh ones all the time and it gets rather expensive. I found this glass vase at IKEA in Utrecht for 1 euro, along with the fake flowers. I also added a few candles that I bought from Hema (which is almost like a Shoppers Drug Mart). The tea-light candle holders came in a set of 5 for 2 euros and the candles came in a pack of 20 for 1 euro. 


5) A Shelf Full of Things (Practical and Pretty)

Having a bookshelf or shelving unit is a great place to put things that you use almost everyday while also adding in some of your affordable décor. In Toronto, I have 3 sets of make-up organizers as well as holders for my brushes. This wasn't something I could bring along so I decided to keep my make-up in a toiletry bag and I managed to find a nice pot for brushes (it's actually meant to hold a plant but it was less than 1 euro at a convenience store and was the perfect size). I kept my toiletries on the top shelf but added in my Polaroid cameras, books and journals to make it less boring. I put some of the candles and vases I bought from IKEA on the second shelf to tie together the shelving look. I think it's nice to have a little piece of wherever you're living so I found a small Amsterdam souvenir from downtown. 


We put on masks when we roam the world, sometimes unconsciously, but when I’m back in my room all masks are off. This is where I am truly, fully and unapologetically myself. I would blast my favourite songs with no thought whatsoever to who may be listening, cry if I have to, dance if I want to. Upon entering my room, all of me is written on the walls.
— Yi Peng

A bedroom is an identity, a scripture, a record of wanton sadness and love. If the walls feel safe, so will you.
— Blakey Bessire

All this being said, you may wonder why it's so important to 'jazz up' your room. Your bedroom is where you have your first and last thoughts of the day. It's the room that sets the tone for your entire place (whether it be a house, an apartment, a dorm residence, etc). Having a space that you feel comfortable in can really make a difference on the way you feel day to day. If you're living abroad, there's no way to fight the home-sickness... it will happen regardless. But making your space a little more comfortable can certainly help you feel just a few steps closer to home!

- S.