Rachael’s room is beautiful to look at. The walls are decorated with Rachael’s collection of art that she has amassed from her own work, from friends and from local artists. Her love of color is reflected in every item she owns and the room as a whole reflects her vibrant and energetic artistic spirit. She is a self-proclaimed “messy person” and the ever-changing appearance of her room represents her creative ability to make this space suit her daily life. Having grown up in Annapolis and especially around the St. John’s College community, Rachael found that it was easy to transition into living off campus as a student. In her own words, “I don’t know if I need this space to be my own; I’ve known a lot of people who lived in this area through the years–many role models–and I feel happy to step into their shoes.”
How Rachael Uses Space
This is my second year in this apartment. One day I was walking down Maryland Avenue with my now-roommate Seung Eun and there was a sign on an orange door. They have since painted it beige, and the awning used to be orange too and now it’s green. I called the number on the door and the landlady showed us around. I thought, “This place is very, very weird and therefore I want to live here.”
I’ve had this layout pretty much the whole time I’ve been here. I accumulated a lot of this furniture from seniors moving out or my friend who moved to Santa Fe. Almost everything in this room is secondhand, or a gift, which I really like.
I love the fact that I have two desks instead of one. I like having my sewing machine over there so I don’t have to clean off my desk first before I use it.
I wanted the bed over here, away from the wall [behind the bookcase] that borders the other room so my bed area is quiet. I spend most of my time right here on this couch and my friends sit in that chair. If I sit in that chair I bring another chair around so I can use it as a footrest, and I can put tea and plates on the windowsill and radiator. I do sit at the desk sometimes for homework and meals. I use the space by my bed for art projects or doing homework on the floor.
The walls in this room were originally blue and I really like warm colors, so I painted them. That was a very long ordeal because I couldn’t decide what color to paint them. I wanted a deep orange that would go with lamplight and sunlight. In the end, I couldn’t find a dark orange that did that. I went to a lot of places and took a lot of samples and finally I was at the Home Depot, in utter despair, and this man came from behind the counter and said, “Honey, I’ve seen this a hundred times. You just have to pick a color and go with it.” So I picked this color and it’s good and I like it. Painting the walls was a big part of making the room feel like mine.
I paint and draw and sew. When I was six, I drew a picture of a swan in art class and my teacher was like, “Wow! That’s great” and I was like, “Okay, I’m an art person.” I grew up around a lot of art people too. I’ve always had that conversation around me, so I started drawing and figuring out which artists I liked.
I have a lot of dancers in my art! I think people are really beautiful too, so I like artwork that has people moving. I’ve always liked color. Every once in a while I like sleek minimalism and I wear black for a day or so–I love it on other people, but I always come back to lots of colors.
I have a really high “messy” threshold, so I can deal with a lot more than a lot of people can.The mess builds up before I realize I can’t take it anymore, and then it’s a lot of work to deal with. My room is the messiest when my mental state is the most frazzled. There’s something about being able to throw something on the ground that makes it feel like it’s my place. Sometimes I’m a little proud of how messy it can get, because I’m a messy person. I’m not organized; I don’t think linearly. A lot of people who don’t know me that well have been surprised to learn that my room is messy, and I actually enjoy that.
I went until I was about eight without a favorite animal and it was rough. One day I walked into the alpaca store on Main Street and saw a picture of an alpaca and thought, “That’s it. That’s my favorite animal.” My love for them has mellowed; it’s more of a personal background thing than my main personality trait, like it was in high school.
This piece has alpacas on the arc, which is one of the reasons I got it. It’s from Ecuador, but I got it from a street fair/festival in Annapolis before my godmother moved there. I found it there and my parents got it for me for my birthday. I don’t see it that much because it’s behind my bed, but I realize that other people notice it a lot.
Q: What is the meaning of home to you?
A: I’m not sure. Maybe it has something to do with making my space different from other spaces. I really like hotels that I’ve never been to and Starbucks in cities where no one knows me, and there’s a way in which I feel very authentically myself there for a short time. Another thing is that living off campus makes it very easy to spend time by myself or with myself and feel not like I’m putting up walls, but just existing, and that’s what this space gives me.
Q: Does this place feel like home to you?
A: Recently when I was recovering from surgery, I actually wanted to be at my parents’ home and I was hoping that this place would feel like home to the same extent, but it didn’t feel like the home I wanted to be in–probably in part because I don’t like my bed. Also because of the three windows looking onto the street, it feels hard to close off the rest of the world. I guess I like coming here after having been away for a while and I open the door and I’m happy to be here. It feels more like home when I spend conscious time here, when I don’t just crash here.
I guess it does feel like home though, because of the time I’ve spent with some of my friends here, just talking. And all the things I need and like are here. Honestly, when I go back to my parents’ home it doesn’t feel totally like home either because they have everything not set up quite right, but here I have things arranged for my needs.
Q: What object in this room represents you best?
A: It’s the alpaca blanket. I love alpacas and it’s also a gift from my godmother who is very important to me. These blankets hold dye really well and that’s why I like it a lot. I also really like my scarf collection! I really like scarves. Freshman year, I used to wear up to three scarves at a time. I really like feeling drapey.