Home Away From Home with Emily Ernst

Your dorm room is the one place that you can express yourself when you move away from your hometown for school. It is the place that you will learn how to be an adult, spend all of your downtime, and, speaking from experience, make some of the best friends of your life. One of the most important aspects of dorm life is the décor and making this new place feel like home.

Emily Ernst is a second-year Law and Society student at Laurier Brantford, and she is also a Don for Floor 4 in the Expositor Place building this year. If there is one person to give dorm décor advice, it should be her. Walking into Emily’s room for the first time I was in complete awe, and after speaking to Emily about it, I realized that most people who walk into her room feel the same way. “Everyone is so amazed; some people are overwhelmed, and some are bewildered,” said Ernst. 

Emily has taken a normal dorm room and transformed it completely, with every single aspect of her personality. Looking around you realize that Emily did not just throw together “aesthetic” and “Pinterest-inspired” to make her room look cute, but took time and put effort into every little decoration. A theme that can be seen throughout Emily’s room is DIY and second-hand decorations. “I take inspiration from anything I see, if I’m walking around campus and I see pompoms, I will go out and buy pompoms and use them in some way in my room,” said Ernst when I asked about the inspiration behind her room. It was also obvious that colour was a big thing for Emily and that everything in her room has to have colour and personality. “I just like to take walks around Dollarama and buy anything that catches my attention and try to incorporate whatever it is into my room,” said Ernst. 

This is Emily’s second year living in residence, so the layout was no surprise to her, and it gave her the opportunity to plan out what she is going to use to decorate her room. “I wanted to keep as many things from my first-year room and bring it to my room in second year, but I also have changed a lot personality wise, so I wanted to keep my décor moving with my personality,” said Ernst, which is a tip for anyone who is decorating their space. If you find something new that brings you joy, try it out, but if you look at something in your room and realize it doesn’t give you joy anymore…change it right away. 

Being a don, Emily was allowed to move into residence two weeks prior to school starting, and that gave her time to decorate and move in. With the furniture in residence being plain, boring and drab it would make anyone feel uncomfortable to move in as it does not give off a homey vibe. Emily said that “it got to a point where I was not happy and it made me feel lonely because I was all alone with only the other dons in the building, so one night I decided to stay up until 4 am decorating so that when I woke up the next morning I felt like I was somewhere I belonged”. 

The main reason that room décor and making residence your home away from home is important is because it will have an effect on your productivity and mental health as well. Emily said that: “as soon as I walk into my room I automatically feel like home and a flood of emotions take over: relaxation, relief, safety, like I can feel my soul is happy”. This does not just apply to Emily, but all students: having a space that is their escape is a healthy place to have. It is very easy for residence to feel like a cell and make you homesick, so by using different lights, textures and colours, it makes the space feel like your own and also makes the space something that you are proud of and want to show off. “Whenever I walk into my room the first thing, I notice is how much possibility there is to add more to my room, and even throughout my day I find myself waiting until I can go to Expo and go back to my space; it really is my safe haven” said Ernst.  

Although Emily loves every piece of decoration in her room, there are a few pieces that stand out in her eyes and she finds most special. The first is a mobile that hangs over her bed that she had made out of a branch, string and beads before she left home for the first time last year. “It just makes me happy to see a part of home in my room in Brantford, and I feel real joy when I look over and the light is being caught on the beads,” said Ernst.

The second thing that Emily chose was her plant Lucy: “I usually opt for fake plants because it is so hard to keep them alive, but Lucy has survived, and it makes me really proud,” said Ernst. The third thing that Emily said is a favourite is the butterflies she has stuck to her window. “This giant window is great for light for sure, but It just looked so boring and I had never seen butterflies stuck like this, so it looked really unique to me” said Ernst.  

Decorating your room is essential when moving into university, and there are some final tips and tricks from Emily that will come in handy when you are doing a room makeover: 

  1. Take inspiration off of Pinterest, but do not make it your whole room. 
  2. Go out without a vision and just pick things you like.
  3. Look around and make sure everything makes you happy.
  4. Comfort is the most important, to make you feel at home.
  5. Don’t bother spending a lot of money: Dollarama and Value Village is where it’s at.
  6. Make residence your home.
  7. Overall, make sure it is a good space for your mental health.