A Positive Space for A Positive Mind

Our surroundings have a huge impact on us. Even things that we don’t see, such as the junk we store in cupboards or clothes we haven’t worn in years that are shoved to the back of our wardrobes manage to clutter up our minds. After returning from a trip to Los Angeles last summer I felt major post-holiday depression. I wanted to capture the colourful, summer vibes that I felt in LA, and so I replaced my grey and purple walls with white and baby pink, bought a fresh white duvet and pillows, and even invested in a new bed. I cleared out my entire wardrobe and disposed of any junk that I no longer wanted in my room, and I can honestly say that nothing has been more positive for my mental health. It took two weeks worth of painting, five bin bags filled with old clothes and countless trips to DIY stores to redecorate my bedroom, but it has been so worth it. Every time I look at it now, I’m filled with pride at how much I accomplished, how personal I’ve managed to make my space and how much more of a positive atmosphere it is to come home to.

A photo of sunita's bedroom: Posters from One Tree Hill, Gilmore Girls, The OC, and Dawson's Creek on the wall, white duvet, and owl pillows. And a large bouquet of flowers.
When I redecorated I decide to start keeping fresh blooms in my room for consistent positive vibes

Since I’ve been back in Toronto and missing my bedroom at home I’ve been looking for ideas to keep my apartment a stress free environment, and so I asked a few of my friends who all live in very different surroundings. Especially now that we just finished reading week and it’s important to have a relaxing atmosphere while studying, I thought it would be helpful to share some personal tips and advice from friends I’ve accumulated in order to create a positive atmosphere.

Janine Maral’s Picturesque Place: 

gold framed collages on a white wall A gold framed photo collage of plants, a painting of a lion, a designer bag and petals on a white wall a small canvas painting of palm leaves, stack of a couple books, perfume, lipstick, nail polish A blue chair with stud accents

I DIY-ed all the art in my room and my favourite has to be the one with the tiger in the centre. I picked pieces from magazines that I felt inspired by, glued them on paper, and framed them. As I continue to grow, I can easily switch them out as a new source of inspiration.

I love Janine’s bedroom mostly because of the colour scheme, as the neutral walls make her artwork and her decor stand out even more. I also love that she has a few staple pieces of makeup and perfume on display that adds a touch of sophistication, as well as her own framed designs that portray her personality in a creative way. When redecorating my own bedroom I bought cheap metal frames and then spray painted them gold which saved me a lot of money yet I still managed to achieve my desired look.

Blair Rotstein’s Botanical Bedroom:

collage of a plant, photos and a laptop with magazines

Since painting my room white, I’ve found myself to be even more relaxed when in my space. I always have my computer playing either Oh Wonder, George Ezra, or Ed Sheeran. A stack of books is never far from me, as well. My plants make me feel better about everything and anything, especially during the fall and winter months. My walls carry my favourite memories; from postcards that my best friends have sent me from their travels, to photographs from some of my own.

Mikael Melo and Ayah Zeineddine’s City Apartments:

A bedroom with fairylights, a desk, bed, framed photos and a map on the wall

collage of an apartment with framed photos, plants and books


When visiting Mikael and Ayah, I was instantly inspired at how they can capture such positive, cosy vibes in small living spaces. I particularly loved their personal touches, whether it was a framed lyric on the wall or a favourite coffee table book, and it inspired me to look for a few affordable things to liven up my own apartment:

collage of different things to buy for your place

Scratch Map Poster / Toronto Watercolour Skyline / Fairylights / Good Vibes Only Throw Pillow / Ficus Plant / Oscar Wilde Book / Calm Book / Fresh Cut Gardenia Candle / Vanilla Pumpkin Marshmallow Candle


Sidrah Khatoon’s Cosy Space:

a marble desk with a stack of books, a polaroid camera, lights and flowers a marble desk with a stack of books, a polaroid camera, lights and flowers a marble desk with a book and a cat sitting on it

My bedroom is a small space that I spend most of my time in so it’s very important that it’s clean and comfortable when I come back from a long commute. It’s also where I usually do my homework, design my artwork, watch Netflix and sleep so it’s important to me that my bedroom reflects both a productive and relaxing space. I have a large table where I have a stack of inspiring books and fake flowers (because I can’t seem to keep anything alive). I like to have things that I love surrounded me so that it seems like my state of mind is reflected in my own personal space. I feel much more competent studying in an area that is clean and ready to use at all times rather than a cluttered distracting space.

From looking at all these spaces and how beautiful and unique they are in their own way, I gathered so much inspiration for my own apartment as well as a few tips to keep it feeling fresh, comforting and a space where I can feel productive and positive:

  • When I have a huge essay to write or a project to tackle I find that I work so much better when everything around me looks organized, and so I try my best to make sure my surroundings are clutter-free, sorted and tidy before I start my work. If you don’t have time to make your bedroom look and feel completely perfect, sometimes all it takes is putting fresh sheets on the bed or having a calming candle nearby. I always find that I’m the most productive usually in the morning right after I take a shower, put some fresh clothes on and have a cup of tea to help me stay stress free. Janine, Blair and Ayah’s bedrooms were particularly inspiring when I thought about different aspects to include in my space to make it feel constantly fresh and positive, whether it’s a fish, a plant or a few photographs that make you make you feel happy.
  • I find that lighting is so important, whether it’s to help you focus or to unwind after a long day. I love how Mikael and Sidrah have incorporated lighting into their bedrooms, from Mikael’s fairylights to Sidrah’s pink cube light that each give off their own relaxing, cosy vibes. I find that turning off technology and having minimal lighting is really helpful right before I go to sleep to ensure I get a proper rest, and so I think they’re perfect when you feel like curling up at the end of a long day with a good book or a friendly cat. I also find that good lighting is really important when I’m working on an essay, as I’ll try my best to sit near a window for natural daylight and to let some air in when my brain gets too stuffed with information.
  • In order to stay productive and positive as I work, I often find it important to work and relax in different places. So when I’m working on something I’ll usually go to my living area for an hour or two, and then when I take a break I like to go to my bedroom. Studies show that this not only helps you stay productive, but it also helps you sleep much better because if you study and sleep on your bed then your mind will associate it with stress rather than relaxation. I find apps such as Headspace really helpful when I’m unwinding down, as well as having a bubble bath with candles and calming music.

How do you like to keep your study space? Show us your own rooms @RUStudentLife and let me know your own tips!