It took a split second for Covid 19 in the U.S. to go from jokes about Corona Light to total lockdown. With no notice to prepare physically or mentally, the space that used to be dedicated to living is now an office, daycare, gym, art studio and breakroom all in one.
Our homes and spaces have always acted as a makeshift thing for a brief period of time – a restaurant for a dinner party or a local bar for a few drinks with friends. But the consistency of its use and increased dependence is brand new for us and the spaces we live in.
There’s only so much a three bedroom— or your childhood bedroom—is built to provide its tenants with.
A lot of us had to get creative.
How can I make this space more conducive to focus? How can I set the space I have dedicated for relaxation apart? How can I allocate areas of my home to my health and moving my body?
For Becky Budds, a former R.A. who moved back home with her parents after DePaul’s shift to online classes, a wall of separation helps to reinforce a space’s dedication.
“I had some conditions for my parents because I was used to my dorm where I have my own space. I have the library, the gym, all these different things that keep me sane and so coming back home I was like, I need a place where I can do homework,” she said. “It can’t be my bedroom because it has to be separate from, I always separated those spaces. My room is not a place where I could work, I’ve never been like that.”
Even more distracting for Budds was realizing that even though she was “home,” she felt a disconnect between the person she is now and the space she was living in. Being in her loud, bright blue high school bedroom with no real cohesive thought to the space felt like reverting to the person she was years ago.
When college students spend so much time away from home, they grow into the adults they are and adjust to a certain level of independence. To lose that without warning can be taxing on their mental health.
“My bedroom is a lot of neutrals because I felt like, for me, it was maturity. I want this room to feel mature,” she said. “Also, just something that is neutral so that when I’m lying-in bed and stuff I can relax and you know just like a color that’s, again, neutral to almost represent my mindset when I’m in that bed. I’m not thinking about work, I’m not focused on anything else, it’s just a nice place for me.”
Sometimes, in order for a space to be conducive to health, productivity or relaxation, you need a little more than some interior design savvy.
DePaul junior Hayley DeSilva made a couple moves over the last year. The first was to her aunt’s house in the very beginning of the pandemic when everyone was under the impression this would be a month-long shutdown.
“It was so different than my normal day to day life with my family and I knew that in this time that was already going to be super difficult. I needed stability. I needed something that was going to be positive like everybody else was working for at the time,” she said. “I don’t regret that at all, that was a good decision to be made. At that point in time, I thought I was only staying there a month. I’ll never forget because my parents were like, ‘well you’re going to have to stay there until all this blows over in like a month.’ And here we are a whole year and some change later.”
It was a strange adjustment going from being the only kid in a house to living with her aunt and three cousins. It was a healthier environment for her, but she missed having a room or a space that was just hers. Once fall rolled around, she decided to get an apartment in Lakeview with one of her best friends from high school, and she was finally able to create a space that was all hers.
“A lot of the stuff in my room is like gold or kind of warm toned and I really wanted that,” she said. “I wanted something that was cozy, especially for my bedroom, that I could roll into after a long day and just feel snuggled up. I feel like that’s a really relaxing feeling for me .”
Comfort was a big theme for DeSliva as she put together her new space. She told us how she really likes muskier scents whether it’s perfume or candles, and the name of her room spray is literally called “comfort.” It’s a scent her older sister had in her house forever and she knew that when she had a space of her own, she would make it part of hers.
These changes don’t have to be massive. Switching things up in my space has been on my mind for a long time now. I set this room up when I was 19 and now I’m 22. Three years doesn’t sound like a long time, but I’ve felt big changes. How I feel about myself, how I feel about other people, what I want to do. I love the memories I have in these pictures, but a few Walgreens print outs don’t make the same statement about me anymore. Getting a few framed posters or even just rearranging your furniture could add the bit of maturity or newness you’re looking for.
It seems to me that comfort and positivity are at the center of what everyone wants for their homes and spaces. It may look like clean, uncluttered neutrals or warm, gold tones that smell like patchouli and vanilla. Whatever they are, make sure they match your vision of comfort, and no one else’s.
Header Image by Yusra Shah