For most, the phrase “student apartment” does not conjure up a pleasant mental image, and with good reason. In these transitory collegiate years, where movement is frequent and money is sparse, student digs often tend to be treated as little more than places to sleep in the brief interval between studying and partying, and the interior decor belies this sense of aesthetic abandonment. Decked out with the usual selection of self-assembled Scandinavian furniture, the most elaborate decor consisting of a ratty Scarface or John Belushi poster and a years supply of used liquor bottles, many of these temporary homes make no apologies for being just that: temporary.
Yet, for one McGill student, the phrase “student apartment” was a source of inspiration, not approbation. Nicole Park, a third year and B.Sci psychology student, who describes recreationally browsing for apartments on Craigslist as “her guilty pleasure,” was so inspired by the unique student homes she kept encountering that she decided to start a blog, “The House Call,” in order to feature some of these fantastic feats of interior design. Along with her photographers Ian Murphy and Molly Teitelbaum, both also third year students, Nicole visits student apartments around Montreal to showcase these innovatively decorated student living spaces. For Nicole and the students she profiles, a student budget is no reason not to live in splendor, and she hopes that her blog will inspire those in “a decor rut” with the idea that creativity trumps cash.
The Daily sat down with Nicole to ask her a little bit about the inspiration behind this project.
The McGill Daily: What prompted you to start “The House Call?”
Nicole Park: Well I’ve always had a morbid fascination with what the inside of other peoples houses looked like, I think ever since the end of first year when we were looking for apartments. It’s so hard to come across a nice apartment, and looking at design blogs like the Selby (http://www.theselby.com/) I was really inspired by all the house decor, and I thought, well, students can do that too. Even if we don’t have the budget we are just as creative as these “high rollers.” So, in that sense, I was really interested to see what other students were doing with their apartments.
MD: What other blogs and websites inspired you to come up with this idea?
NP: There’s a German site called Freunden von Freunden (http://freundevonfreunden.com/). I’m also a big fan of “The Covateur” (www.thecovateur.com), which is like a fashion blog mixed with inside decor. That and the Selby would be my top three.
MD: What sets these places apart that you’ve visited so far, what makes them unique?
NP: I guess the quirkiness of some decoration. I mean a lot of students will just buy their furniture from Ikea, you know, furnish their places in the cheapest way possible and make it look kind of cookie cutter, but I think what really sets people’s apartments apart are their decorations, and the inspiration they bring to their house.
MD: What would be your advice for someone on a low budget looking to jazz up their digs?
NP: For inspiration I would definitely check out some home decor blogs, you’ll always see some really cool art that you could definitely do for cheap. And even garage sale hunting is a big thing for sure, there are the garage sale postings on Craigslist that I check out every weekend and if there’s something interesting that pops up I’ll try to stop by. And, literally, even walking down the streets people will throw out perfectly good furniture like lamps and stuff and you can totally just pick it up and bring it home. That’s what my friends and I do.
MD: Can you tell us a bit about your own apartment? What is your personal decorating style?
NP: I guess I would say cozy, lots of little matching prints in my room and framed pictures. I think a lot of personalization is important because it makes it feel like home, even though it’s not the home you grew up in. I think Christmas lights are a really nice touch to any home, it really makes them cozy–and Christmas is my favourite time of year.
MD: Why do you think living spaces are important? Is there any connection between how you live and how you feel?
NP: Yeah, I definitely think there’s a correlation there. I mean if you’re living in a shoebox I’m sure its not going to be conducive to either studying or creativity, and I think if you have a place that you’re happy in, ultimately you’ll also be happy.
MD: How do you find the places you feature on your blog?
NP: Usually it’s from word of mouth, from my other friends who say, ‘oh my friends just moved in to this really cool place and its decorated really nicely,’ and they’ll kind of set me up with the person. But, I’m still looking for people to cover, so, I’m just hoping people will start contacting me.