Never have I ever had my own room—unless you count my couple infant years before my younger sister came along. I’ve always shared a room with a sibling or friend. I’ve always shared a bathroom. I’ve always shared a closet.
And it is quite the treat. I recently moved into my new-to-me house and have spent ample time making it my new home, which takes more than a hot sec. Moving is exhausting! It’s like, I don’t want to sit down because I’m so excited to make it my space but also I’m getting sharp pains in my shins. I like checking tasks off my list, but I like that I have space to make my own little canvas over time.
That being said, a blank canvas can be both simple and overwhelming all at the same time. While any moving and decorating situation is trial and error to find your perfect fit, here are five tips to decorate a bedroom for a world traveler.
1. Design a wall display
I’ve accumulated a large number of postcards over the years and destinations. I knew that one day, I could decorate my place, but they’ve just been sitting in an envelope in my basement for the past few years. These postcards finally got put to good use in my wall display. Be sure to choose several statement pieces to instantly catch and guide the eye. Dominant pieces give your wall necessary structure and anchoring points. I opted for my maps of New Mexico, Paris and the whole world. Then I placed postcards, vintage prints, travel art and Anthropologie catalogue pages around these large pieces. Use washi tape and push pins to secure your pieces.2. Think storage
I’m not the neatest of people—ask anyone who knows me. If you’re anything like me, you’re not immune to clutter, and because of this *small* detail, it’s vital to include ample storage as part of your room’s design. Yes, I like shopping, but when I’m looking for something specific (and on a budget), I wear thin all too quickly. Shopping for affordable furniture is like looking for a needle in a haystack. My mom and I spent hours scouring every last furniture store, and I was ready to give up. Next door to one of the massive furniture stores we perused was an antique mall. Ehh, why not?
Strolling through in an antique mall is enjoyable as is with its dusty typewriters and decades-old National Geographic magazines. It didn’t matter that the air conditioning wasn’t working in the 90-degree Missouri humid heat. I flipped my way through old newspaper articles and advertisements and purchased a cruise liner advertisement dated 1957 (now hanging on my wall). At the back corner of the store, we came across a French provincial matching set of a dresser and nightstand in unbelievable condition—and much less expensive than all of the new furniture we’d seen. The dresser has nine deep drawers and the nightstand two. Both give good space to store my clothes, notebooks and, well, mess. Vintage luggage and hat boxes are also great choices when it comes to storage that’s not plastic drawers.3. Hang a photo strip
Photos are my favorite way to make my space my own; it reminds me of fabulous destinations and meaningful memories. And it’s not expensive! The best way I’ve found to hang my photos is with a magnetic photo strip. Pop a nail or push pin into the wall, and bam, use the magnets to hang your pictures.
4. Make use of those odds and ends
I have this knack for accumulating random pieces that I can’t seem to part with but also live their lives in boxes. A two-foot wire Eiffel Tower. Bleu, blanc, rouge cords from my French honor society. A mason jar painted with a world map. European vintage prints that I bought on a whim several years ago. A French bar of soap a friend bought for me in the Riviera. An ecclesiastical book from the 1800s that I bought in Paris. Travel scrapbooks that have more use as coasters than walking down memory lane. A leather journal documenting my summer in France.
Individually these pieces are random and not great decor, but incorporating those pieces adds personality to your room. Knick knacks tell stories and make your room yours. I draped the French braided cords on my wire Eiffel Tower. I lined up my scrapbooks, journal and ancient French book on my dresser. I placed the soap in a decorative dish. Get creative and put your flair into your space.5. Top it off with a touch of cozy
Add your final touches to the room with a fuzzy throw blanket or soothing candle. And hang a string of lights on your ceiling to add a quaint glow. If you’re moving abroad and have limited packing space, there are still plenty of ways to make your house a home. Decorating a new space is exciting and draining, but putting in the time to make it yours will make it feel like home.