Home sweet home: Ways to make a place feel like home 

Illustration of interior of home
Sarah Pi/Staff

It’s crazy to believe that we are in the midst of midterm season, swarming in the constant rush of wrapping up our academic year and planning for the summer. We often forget to take time to take a step back and notice our surroundings. For me, I have realized that May is around the corner and that I needed to quickly look for an apartment because my lease is almost up. For others, renewing their lease might be the preferred option, as it’s a big hassle to look for a new place. As a sophomore that has gotten stuck living in on-campus housing, I have had enough of not being able to stick a thumbtack on the wall considering the ridiculous amount I have to pay for rent. Recently, I found and put in a deposit on my dream apartment. I am already thinking about what furniture I need, which posters I want to hang, what plants I want to buy. This whirlwind of having my own place has put me in a frenzy, but I am excited to embark on a journey to reclaim my own space. Here is my personal advice for making your place feel like home!

Everyone who I have met here who has furnished their dorm rooms and apartments has shopped at Ikea because of the variety of different styles and designs, it is conveniently located two cities away and the furniture is sturdy. I want to try to avoid shopping for most of my furniture here as I don’t really want my place to look exactly like everyone else’s. Instead, I have been looking in antique and thrift stores around town. I actually found some nice ones near the Ashby BART station that have an eclectic array of furnishings, home goods, collectibles and artwork. If you’re willing to travel a bit farther, Alameda has some really nice antique shops on Park Street. The city also hosts an antiques faire on the first Sunday of every month, where vintage and lightly used furniture pieces are sold. Buying locally supports smaller shops and reminds them that we appreciate their roots — it’s a win-win situation.

When decorating your own place, one needs to think about having items and decorations that one loves, rather than copying an “inspirational” Pinterest board purely for aesthetics. In my current place, I decided to use decorations that I have gathered throughout college because they’re a combination of my passions, hobbies and familiarity with home. After I was finished, I realized that my room had a theme of Europe, family and a Tumblr essence, all in one. For miscellaneous decorations, it’s always fun to either use what you have or go to Target (because who doesn’t love decorations from there). I also recommend going to bookstores or vinyl shops for posters, as they have some pretty unique designs for a fair price. Of course, it is different for everyone — I recommend doing what makes you feel happy.

Aesthetically, plants always make a place feel bright and homey, enhancing your room to feel a bit more alive, especially when you are in the midst of testing and need to be reminded that there is a whole world outside. Besides their aesthetic value, they also reduce toxins in the air and improve air quality, and there are many and varied aromatherapy benefits that particular plants can have. Caring for plants can be tricky, and depending on the type of plant, the climate in which you live and how much time you have to devote to the process, some plants end up being more difficult to care for than others. But even if you haven’t had the greatest luck in the past with plants (like me—I kept accidentally killing mine) there are a number of very hearty houseplants that are much easier to care for and are much more likely to reward your efforts with long and continued growth. For example, you might want to consider selecting a cactus or succulent for your home. Though green and lively, both are types of desert plants and are well-suited to environments that would be less than hospitable to other plant types. In fact, these plants only need a little water and sunlight; other than that, they are very low maintenance, making them easier to care for. In addition to their strength and longevity, these plants also have an interesting look that works very well aesthetically in interiors with a more modern design. The UC Botanical Garden and Home Depot are great places to find a variety of plants that would fit your taste and living needs.

You spend a lot of time at home, so you want to make sure your surroundings are comfortable and familiar. Personalizing your space can totally transform how you feel about being home. Hopefully, some of these ideas will help you make your new place feel like home!

Contact Gisselle Reyes at [email protected].