Spruce Your Space

Spruce Up Your Personal Space

College has begun again for some, and for others, it is rapidly approaching. Schoolwork and extracurricular activities will soon take over the majority of the day for students. However, students also spend an ample amount of time in their room – doing homework or even just hanging out. It’s helpful if a dorm space conjures a sense of productivity and emotional well-being. Whether you’re living in the dorm this year, or are looking to make a few changes to your current household décor, you can try these tips for decorating.


1. Add Some Nature

One quick and easy way you can make your space more inviting – whether it be an office desk, a dorm room, or your living room – is to add a plant.

Plants and trees are common ways of making the human race feel more at home. Even if you live in an urban area, you’ll most likely find that the streets are lined with shrubs and greenery. It gives a place dimension and adds a finishing touch.

Aesthetically, the leafy texture of most plants adds an interesting element to a room. Subtle and natural colors of plants have a calming effect on the body, and brighter colors provoke a feeling of energy and power.

Although having a plant or two is a good idea, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind when looking for a plant for your space:

Budget

Are you able to spend a hefty amount of money on a large tree for the living area, or are you only okay with purchasing a small desk plant?

Commitment Level

Artificial plants can be quite costly, and real plants require regular care. How much are you willing to commit to the plant?

Color

It takes an eye for design to be able to match the colors of the plant to the wall, furniture, and art that already exist in the room. Green plants are a safe bet if you’re not sure about suitable color combinations.

2. Photos

Many households are lined with photos. They add a unique and personal element by telling the stories of the space’s inhabitants. Photos are snapshots of where you’ve been and who you’ve spent time with. By putting them up, people can view your stories without you having to say a word.

Options for Photo Display

-Tape + Wall: You can go the traditional college student route and simply tape your photos to a wall or a piece of furniture that can accommodate them.

-Collage on poster board: If you’re worried about ruining walls or furniture, you can always affix your photos to a poster board and then attach the poster board to your wall with a wall-safe adhesive.

-Frames: There are a variety of frames available in stores and online to suit every taste. Look for bargains at your local thrift store if you don’t have a large budget for decorating.

-Digital frame: This is much like a regular frame except that you have digital photos rotate like a slideshow.

3. Artwork

Your personal tastes will come to play here in deciding exactly which pieces you’d like to display. The most important factor in this decision is evaluating the emotions that are conjured every time you view the artwork.

How do you feel?

If the piece is an emotional burden, consider replacing it with a more upbeat and motivational piece. Remember to try and evoke the emotion you’d most like to feel on a regular basis.

Have any other ideas?

If you have anything to add to this list, feel free to post your ideas in the comments section below.

For Extra Design Inspiration: Check out Ikea’s design catalogue since they are always filled with creative interior design ideas.

A Look Into Why Magazines Sell

Today an adventure unfolded in the magazine aisle of a drug store. It was possibly the most perfect place for me to research effective design and marketing – the very subject I was thinking about earlier in the day after seriously evaluating my blog design.


So I asked myself: “What sells, and why?”


The stuff that’s on the rack – of course. But not all of it. Some magazines appealed to me more than others.  I knew I had to use those techniques in the eventual layout of my blog, so I decided to take a closer look at what exactly made these layouts effective.


Below are my findings about what worked in the way of balance and composition for the magazines that I encountered.

1. Typography Matters

Magazines need to sell and they need to be eye-catching from the front cover. A good font can help achieve higher visibility for interesting content. What’s more is that typography also tells the viewer exactly what they are to expect. Many of the magazine covers had bold article titles which led to a readable format and a powerful feeling. Others had refined, script-like font, lending the reader to expect high-quality and maturity within the magazine.

2. Stunning Images

Pictures of healthy-looking women with toned abs were placed on fitness magazines. Expensive and classy outfits grace the women of fashion magazines. A revered actor or perhaps just a man-with-a-nice-body is front and center on a magazine directed at the male demographic. Each magazine had in common a dynamic photo.

3. Intimacy

Although you may not feel like you know the authors of the articles*, the magazine company still wants you to feel connected to the issue. They want to give you a reason to buy it. So they feature something on the front cover. Sometimes they’ll do a special interview with a celebrity, or focus on a certain recipe/technique/person. Simply said, when the topic is of a narrow scope, we’re able to take the information in and swallow it whole.

*In addition to possessing all of the above qualities, a blog usually also provides the reader with a connection to the author that just isn’t as prevalent in a magazine. So that’s why I tend to prefer reading blogs instead of magazines. The voice of the author tends to be more developed and so does the execution of the goal of the blog (whatever that may be). Plus, they’re usually free!

So how about you? What components of magazine cover design to get you to go for the purchase?

New Goal: A Post a Day

One a Day

Hello friends,

I’d like to publicly announce a shift in the way my blog will run. From now on, I will be once again writing a post a day. I’ve decided that this would be the best way for me to say what’s on my mind without feeling like I must only restrict my posts to perfection. This target amount of posts is also in line with my goal of writing every day to become a better writer. I think along the way I’ve forgotten that the key to writing well is writing often.


So in the future, you can expect that I’ll be showing up to my blog more often. See you around.


Oh, and by the way, leave a comment if you pass by. I’d love to hear from you.

Shopping

Replace Your Compulsive Shopping Habits

Traditionally, the public has consumed well beyond their means. This phenomenon may or may not include going into debt, but at any rate, the habit is wasteful. Purchasing items when they are not necessary is counter-intuitive.

Aren’t there better ways we could be spending our time, money, and efforts?

An ongoing battle for minimalism is taking place. People realize the stronghold that the media has on them, and are attempting to do something about it. This movement has given rise to the incredible popularity of such sites as Zen Habits and Mnmlist (well, both of those are by the same author…go figure).

My advice is to just buy what works. However, you don’t want to be stuck with a brand that may not work as well as its competition. When in doubt, test a new brand out. Get rid of all the excess.

When you hold onto things that you don’t need, you’re just creating baggage for yourself. It’s not healthy and causes stress. Why be responsible for more than you need?

The law of diminishing returns holds that the more you continue to purchase and have, the less each consecutive material possession will increase happiness.

The most common reason people purchase new items is because they are excited to let something new into their lives. When they view the product, they consider all the ways that the product will make them feel when wearing, using, or gifting the item. Combat this by tricking your mind into believing that it can feel good without an abundance of material things.

Reinvent Small Areas of Your Appearance

Even if you spend a little money doing this, the benefits will stay with you on your person. Let’s say you get a new haircut or even change up your hairstyle a bit. This change will be with you every moment of every day, and you can constantly appreciate it. Do it often enough and it’s like shopping for a different you!

If you are a person who hardly ever wears a certain type of jewelry, perhaps make that your new thing. Make your own if you’re looking to save money, buy thrift, or borrow. If not, buy one of the item, and give it a test drive. Jewelry is something that doesn’t need to be consistently changed out, and you therefore won’t break the bank by trying the fashion out. Maybe you just needed the satisfaction of trying something new and spicing up your own life.

If you’re looking for a more substantial change you can always attempt to tone your body for ultimate fitness. Committing yourself to your body will help you fix the need to shop outrageously. You might have been shopping for emotional reasons. Feeling better about your body could be all the motivation you need to pursue other goals – ones that are more worthy of your time than shopping.

Read a Book

In buying an unnecessary product, you’re begging for an emotional adventure. Instead of putting down the bucks, try getting it through a book (from the library) and not a product. Reading is the fastest way to escape your current reality and be on a journey to somewhere else. If the novel or other book that you’re reading doesn’t put you in a state of happiness, then write your own. You can tell your characters what to do or where to take you. And yes, it will be your characters that will take YOU places.

Change Your Routine

The daily grind doesn’t just become monotonous; it consumes us in a fiery pit of monotony. If you have the flexibility, change your work day around a bit. If not, change the way you work.

When you take a break from what you’re doing, walk a new route, drink a new coffee, or take the break with someone new. When you’re seated, face a new direction or sit at a different chair.

Rearrange Your Space

Building upon the previous point, you can also completely change the way a room feels by moving furniture around, or adding pieces that you retired long ago back into the mix.

In conclusion

When you have considerably changed up the routine of the elements within your life, you may not ever need to go back to shopping excessively again. The human mind craves new subject matter. My advice is to give it what it wants.

Wisdom I’ve Gained from Photography

Preparation

When you carry your camera around everywhere you go, the ability for you to take amazing photos increases by 100%.

Play around with manual settings even if you have a completely digital, mostly automatic camera. You’ll learn to control environmental lighting better than someone with an auto setting could ever hope to achieve.


Environment

The right lighting makes all the difference. Sunny weather is not the best lighting recommendation. The brightness can deter artistically placed shadows and contrast in your photos, making them flat and uninteresting.

Try to capture photos in natural light, but if that isn’t possible or desired, then try making your own light box.

 

Approach

Quantity leads to quality. When you take enough pictures, there are always a few that stand out spectacularly against the rest. These are the truly artistic, professional-looking shots.

Exercise: If you’re not convinced that quantity will do the trick, just try it out for yourself. Take 300 pictures and review them. A few pictures will very likely pop and capture your interest longer than the rest. Those are the winners.

 

Style

There is an assortment of cameras out there to choose from, but the best will always be what you’re comfortable with. It’s great to be so familiar with your camera that you can just whip it out and shoot the perfect moment.

You’ll learn that certain types of shots are your favorite. I particularly enjoy shooting flowers, landscapes, and portraits. My sister, on the other hand, once told me she prefers low-light photos.

 

Why Take Photos?

Some people do it to capture memories and record the progression of life.

Some do it for artistic purposes – to share the beauty of the world with others.

What’s your reason?

Feel free to share ideas you have in the comments section below.