As the weeks go by, and the time approaches for me to board a plane and head back to Virginia for my second year of law school, I wanted to share how I managed to make somewhere so unfamiliar feel like home. While I’m definitely hesitant to leave California for five months, I created a space in Virginia that I adore and that really does feel like home in many ways. I lived in the dorms all four years of college, so I was extremely excited to have a townhouse to call home in Virginia. When my roommates and I arrived, we were blown away by the luxurious feel of our place. My New York-native roommate likely experienced the same amount of awe I did coming from the Bay Area… affordable rent actually got us a really nice place to live while students! In New York and San Francisco, affordable housing doesn’t translate to a beautiful home! Still, even though I was in awe of the townhouse’s appearance, I was really adamant about making it feel like home before my family flew back to California and I was in a new state alone (relatively. I had roommates, but I met them in person once six months before we moved into our place. The rest of our relationship developed over text in the months between deciding to live together and moving in).
So, what did I do to make this foreign space my home? A few major things. I knew early that I wanted all of my furniture put together and I wanted to be fully unpacked when my parents left. I didn’t want to have to settle later; I wanted to be settled then. I knew I wanted a very comfortable space, which I accomplished through a lot of soft hues, cozy bedding, and comfortable furniture. I wanted a space I was proud of, one I looked forward to coming home to after a long day at law school. I also knew that I wanted to have a lot of photos around my area of the house. I had a desk area and bedroom and I wanted my family and friends very visible. I created a gallery wall above my bed, featuring my favorite things and a photo my sister gave me of us. On my nightstand, I featured a photo of my parents and me at a San Francisco Giants’ game, a favorite activity in my family. On the bulletin board above my desk, I hung photos of me and my family and various photos from my senior year of college. Essentially, if the people I loved couldn’t be physically there, I was going to make them as present as possible.
I recently discovered Aura, a company that created the most sophisticated digital frame I’ve seen. Sleek with a high-end feel, Aura frames are the “smart” gadget of the framing world. I like high-quality photos, and the photos that appear on the Aura frame are clear without any grainy quality. In fact, the frame is designed to only feature your best photos. The frames have technology that removes any low quality, grainy photos from the slideshow. And if this is a problem for you, the frame also has technology that prevents photos with nudity from displaying (so mom, dad, grandma, whoever doesn’t accidentally get a Magic Mike show while in your home). One of the reasons I’ve always shied away from digital frames is that I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of getting the photos onto the frame. Aura, however, has an app that is the key to getting your photos on and off the frame! I’ve lamented having too many photos and not enough places to display them. I’ve groaned at the prospect of putting photos on and off a digital frame via my computer. I mean, this is a prime example of “there’s an app for that!” One cool feature that I particularly like is that it takes cues from its surroundings and changes photos accordingly. Or, if you walk by and think the photo isn’t great, you can wave at the frame and the photo will change! For the environmentally conscious people in the room, Aura uses minimal energy and goes to sleep when the room is dark.
I’m honestly a little glad I wasn’t aware of this frame until now because I probably would have just watched a slideshow of my family and friends for a month when I was at my most homesick. I’m only partially joking! I do think that if you’re moving somewhere new, and would like to quickly turn the area into a home, photos of loved ones go a long way in accomplishing that goal. I know for me, sometimes just looking at the photo on my nightstand when I first woke up or right before bed made me feel less homesick and more secure in a new place. To summarize, I used a cozy color palette mixed with welcoming textures to make my space feel like home. I also used some pieces from dorm rooms (a gift my friend made me, my senior year duvet became a throw at the end of my bed, etc.). However, the biggest way I made my first place feel like home was to include photos of loved ones. Keeping them close, at least in picture format, made me feel so much more comfortable in my home. However, I would have loved to easily add new memories to the mix. With the Aura frame, I could easily combine my California life with my new life in Virginia. I think mixing new and old memories shows that you really are putting down roots and making a home for yourself.
Have you heard of Aura frames?