DO IT YOURSELF: Floral Centerpiece

After setting up and decorating a fresh Christmas tree, there were a few extra boughs remaining. As my dining table was looking quite bare, I decided to use the leftover spruce pieces along with some additional fresh greenery from the florist’s to make a floral centerpiece. The green foliage is a nice and easy way of bringing some of the outside in. If you are looking to try your hand at floral design, this DIY is a good place to begin. If you enjoy entertaining, this project is an easy way to spruce up (pun intended) a table over the holiday season.

What you will need:

Wet floral foam

Decorative accents such as holly berries, poinsettia flowers, twigs and pieces of ribbon

Sharp knife

Decorative flower container

Bowl filled with warm water

Christmas greenery such as spruce and cedar pieces

Taper candle


Wire cutter


Place the foam in a bowl of warm water and allow it to pull in the water. Once it is wet, remove the foam brick from the water and use a knife to carve the block to fit the container, leaving the foam to be about one inch taller than the container. Put the foam inside the container.


Begin by inserting a tapered candle into the middle of the foam. Using four pieces of spruce, place one piece into each side of the foam. On the ‘layer’ above, use another type of green filler flower (I used gold tipped cedar) and insert the boughs adobe and to the right and left of each piece of spruce. Continue to layer, alternating types of greenery (pine and cedar would also be a great combination) until the centrepiece looks full.


Add finishing touches such as ribbon, poinsettia flowers, short branches, holly berries and small christmas bulbs to ensure no parts of the foam are visible through the foliage. Using scissors or wire cutters, trim back any pieces that are visibly longer than the others to give the centerpiece a uniform look.

DIY Tip – Should you live in a more rural area, you might be able to find some of the greenery for this project in your own backyard. Do some exploring before heading off to the florist’s.


It’s getting near the time of year when I want to hibernate under multiple layers of blankets for the remainder of the cold weather season. Unfortunately, that’s not exactly a realistic option. The other more reasonable alternative is to bundle up in multiple layers when venturing outside is necessary. Layering strategic pieces is my preferred way of staying warm.

There are some similarities between the pieces I use to keep warm while inside and those I wear to stay warm while outdoors. Whether in the form of a blanket or a sweater, chunky cable knit pieces are stylish options that add texture. They were incorporated into Tibi’s fall 2013 line. The same rule applies for faux fur, whether it’s a soft rug under your feet or a vest to keep out the cold air. Don’t forget to add some plaid to the mix, either in the form of a cozy scarf or a throw to bundle up with on the couch.

A great formula for wearing this look everyday is dark bottoms paired with a lighter, neutral colored piece that offers some texture on top. Add dark, neutral colored pieces and layer over top. To complete the look, top it off with a bright pop in the form of a scarf, hat or lipstick – or all three.

There are several options to choose from if you want to be bundled up in warm layers whether inside or out of your Dormista/o space:

Cable knit throw blanket from Bed Bath & Beyond

Faux fur pillow

Toss pillow

Cable knit accent pillow

Plaid throw blanket

Faux sheepskin rug from Ikea

How are you staying warm this season?


Creative people look for inspiration everywhere and Anna Murphy is no exception. This artistic soul is always drawing incentive from her surroundings. Like many post-secondary students, Anna’s tastes are constantly evolving. This is reflected in everything from her drawings and paintings to her style of dressing. Through her Instagram account, this Dormista features shots of her artwork, some awe-inspiring views from her house by the sea and local food hot spots. Her snapshots allow followers to get a glimpse of how her surroundings influence what she creates. Continue reading to learn more about how Anna gets inspired.

CollegeDormista: How would you describe your personal dressing style?

Anna Murphy: It’s always evolving. I try my best to keep things as put together as possible without being too boring and also unique without being too out there. I usually find myself appreciating someone’s look when they look effortless and comfortable but well dressed. Lately, I find I’m always attracted to pale colors. Mostly off-whites, beige, browns, and pale pinks get me.

CD: How would you describe your interior design aesthetic?

AM: Cozy. That would be my biggest thing. I find I’m happiest when my environment makes me feel comfort and warmth. Usually with interiors I’m attracted to darker color palettes and dim lighting. It is always kind of changing, I suppose. However, I’m continuously drawn back to spaces that have a sense of drama and richness about them.

CD: What influences your style?

AM: I find inspiration everywhere. Lately it’s been through simply surfing around the internet and stumbling upon different images. I tend to find movies really inspiring especially if they’re from a different era. I’m constantly pausing movies to take an extra few minutes to appreciate a character’s outfit. That happened a lot with Coco Before Chanel, The Notebook and Midnight in Paris.

CD: Where do you look for design inspiration?

AM: Everywhere. Mostly other places that I have been in that I enjoy. I’m a real estate agent so I’m always viewing people’s spaces. I kind of take a little memory with me of all of the interiors that I come across that leave an impression on me. I also really enjoy the interior of places like coffee shops and restaurants. I’m always paying attention to the detail and thought that people put into those spaces as well.

CD: Do you incorporate or consider any fashion trends when you are looking for inspiration for a space?

AM: Once in a while, but not actively. Maybe when it comes to certain colors and small finishing details. I think the things that I like in fashion come out kind of unintentionally when I’m trying to pull a space together as it probably does for many people.

CD: Where do you shop most often for decor accessories?

AM: Winners/HomeSense a lot of the time. Sometimes I find things in Chapters/Indigo as well. Some of my favorite things I have around have come from places I’ve traveled to or gifts that have been given to me. I love things that have stories behind them!

CD: Are there any people who inspire your style? If so, who?

AM: Maybe not so much people, but like I said before, characters and sets in movies and shows. I love Claire in House of Cards on Netflix and I’m very much so looking forward to season two. When I was younger I used to watch Gossip Girl just to look at both Serena and Blair’s clothes. I’ve often put on my favorite movies like the three I mentioned before and also P.S. I Love You just to admire the wardrobes and spaces as well.

IN HER SPACE: Jill Walsh

Whether it’s for minutes or hours, there’s nothing quite like returning to your personal space during a busy day to feel rejuvenated. This week, I chatted with Jill Walsh about her personal space, style influences and how she would decorate her dream home. Her bedroom features cozy chocolate colored walls, a textured white duvet and a fully packed bookshelf. Like many students, this Dormista is constantly busy with her studies, work and extracurriculars. As her average day allots minimal time at home, she has incorporated several details into her room to make this time be as productive and comfortable as possible. Continue reading to find inspiration on how to decorate your own space.

CollegeDormista: How would you decorate your dream house?

Jill Walsh: First of all, I would have cool colors; greys, blues and browns. I love clean lines and dark wood. I want to have a lot of artwork, but no decorative mirrors. I would love to have a fireplace so that I could place a bunch of candles in it.

CD: How would you describe your dressing style?

JW: It’s fairly casual and most of the items in my closet tend to be neutral in color. I do this because it makes it easier to match accessories. I tend to leave the color to these and my outerwear. But similarly to how I would decorate my future house, I tend to always opt for cool tones in my wardrobe as well.

CD: Who are your style icons?

JW: I find I relate most to people with a similar stature to my own; I love the style of Lauren Conrad, Mila Kunis, Rachel Bilson and Hilary Duff. They tend to find the perfect balance between polished and professional yet relatable.

CD: Where do you find inspiration for interior style?

JW: I like to watch shows on Home and Garden television. I also find lots of inspiration on Pinterest. While I mainly use healthy living blogs for recipes, I do take note when some of them include home decor sections.

DO IT YOURSELF: Glitter Garland

It’s getting near the time of year when everything seems to be adorned with some extra sparkle. A true Dormista/o might suggest that there’s always room for some additional décor that shines, no matter the season. This week, I decided to do a project that could be used as a holiday decoration or an everyday wall decoration – or both, depending on the color scheme chosen. My personal favorite holiday decorations that won’t look out of place if they’re put up two months early (or remain on the walls two months after the holiday season).

What you will need:





Using a pair of scissors, cut the ribbons into approximately 6 inch long pieces. The longer the garland, the more ribbon you’ll need. I used approximately 18 yards of ribbon for my short garland.

Step #2 – TIE

Leave several inches of twine at the beginning to make the garland easier to hang. Using one piece of ribbon at a time, tie around the piece of twine with one knot. Alternate with different colors and patterns of ribbons. Repeat until the garland is the desired length. Leave several inches of twine at the finishing end and cut twine with scissors.

Step #3 – HANG

Knot both ends of twine and in your preferred location. Enjoy your seasonal (or everyday) decoration!

DIY Tip – You could opt to use materials from around the house for this project instead of or in addition to purchasing ribbons. For this project, cut up old cotton t-shirts or other clothes items that you no longer wear for an equally cool garland.


Plaid is not just for the cottage anymore. Designers featured the pattern on many Fall 2013 runways, from Stella McCartney to Vivienne Tam. This popular cold weather trend has since spread from clothing into home décor. As a bonus it is also a great way to begin decorating for the holiday season.

How you would decorate with plaid is similar to how you might incorporate it into an outfit: pair the print with embellished details or another modern material such as leather for a chic look. This will allow the plaid to be a fashionable detail rather than overcoming the entire setting. Essentially you want to focus on details rather than draping the print over an entire room.

An easy way to bring this trend into your space for the season is to add accessory pieces featuring this pattern, such as blankets or pillow covers. When added to a space, plaid offers a warm and rustic feel, yet by pairing it with the right modern pieces can still allow a room to look swanky and stylish.

There are several options to choose from if you are considering adding some plaid into your own Dormista/o space:

Woven throw plaid blanket from Target

Plaid floor pillow

Agra plaid cotton rectangular rug from JCPenney

Plaid dining chair cushions from Pottery Barn

MacLachlan comforter set

Are you mad for plaid this season?


St. John’s based jewelry designer and founder of Velvet Snow Accessories, Kim Cleary, creates vintage inspired pieces in a variety of colors. Her creations range from necklaces to hair combs. This Dormista favors a similar feminine yet antique aesthetic in her decor choices. Her Instagram account features shots of her accessories but also how she decorates her personal space and the things she likes to incorporate, including unique touches such as a typewriter, a mannequin form and an assortment of Victorian teacups. Continue reading to learn more about Kim’s design inspirations.

CollegeDormista: How would you describe your personal dressing style?

Kim Cleary: I see my style as feminine, sweet and dainty.

CD: How would you describe your interior design aesthetic?

KC: Classic and antique inspired; you might refer to it as ‘shabby chic’.

CD: What influences your style?

KC: The Victorian era, and believe it or not.. Grannies!

CD: Where do you look for design inspiration?

KC: I get a lot of inspiration simply from browsing through blogs and websites such as Pinterest. I like Pinterest because it often sparks my creative side and gives me great ideas on how to decorate in resourceful and unique ways.

CD: Do you incorporate or consider any fashion trends when you are looking for inspiration for a space?

KC: I have always loved Victorian fashion. If you were to walk into my bedroom you would understand. In ways I take this from my interior design tastes.

CD: Where do you shop most often for decor accessories?

KC: I shop on Etsy quite a bit. It’s a great spot for unique handcrafted and antique pieces. If I’m shopping locally I usually go to Wicker Emporium, Winners/HomeSense and antique shops such as Livyers & Pollyanna Art and Antique Gallery.

CD: What is your favorite piece you currently own and why?

KC: It’s a toss up between my 1960’s Smith Corona typewriter or my antique rotary dial telephone. The typewriter is not currently working but it makes a great decorative piece. The telephone is gorgeous. It’s gold plated with a pink cameo in the centre of the dial and has a clear, sharp ring even after all these years.

IN HIS SPACE: Hunter Bath

It is always interesting to observe how different people create their personal spaces, what items they choose to display and what function they designate a space to have. This week, I interviewed Hunter Bath about a personal space of his. He has claimed the spare bedroom in his house and dubbed it the ‘getting ready’ room. The bones of this room are classic and include white walls and hardwood floors. This Dormisto has outfitted his space with distinctive details such as a rolling rack displaying a comprehensive plaid flannel collection, a tan leather chair and a full length mirror. While there is some framed art displayed on the walls, the most unique pieces are those of the skateboards featuring the work of Warhol. Using these details, he was able to create a relaxing room to get dressed and hang out in. Continue reading to find inspiration on how to decorate your own space.

CollegeDormista: How would you describe your interior décor style?

Hunter Bath: I don’t like a room to be too cluttered. I like basic, neutral colors and to have one or two accents that stand out. I prefer a vintage style and I love older architectural details such as wood floors, large moldings and exposed brick.

CD: How would you describe your personal style?

HB: I like to dress fairly casual. I like to wear deep colors; dark pieces, such as dark pants and a dark sweater with a flannel underneath. I tend to wear my sleeves rolled up. You can usually find me in a pair of Vans.

CD: What influences your style tastes?

HB: I would probably say a mixture of cultures: skateboarding, folk music and street style. I like to observe how different people wear clothing versus seeing items in photos.

CD: Where do you look for design inspiration?

HB: Whenever I’m in someone else’s home I take note of what I like and dislike; from a collection of photos to the way furniture is arranged in a space. 

CD: Where do you shop for home décor items most often and why?

HB: Winners/HomeSense, Wicker Emporium and thrift shops. I find these places to be less expensive, offer a large variety of products and allow me to easily check out different products to see if they would work for my space. 

CD: Do you incorporate or consider any fashion trends when you are looking for inspiration for a space?

HB: I like to go with my personal tastes when decorating a space, as generally a room is going to look a certain way for longer than a few seasons. I tend to go with my own style and I don’t worry too much about what’s considered trendy or cool.

CD: Do you find the trends you admire in interior design are ever mirrored in how you dress?

HB: Yes. How I dress is definitely a reflection of the spaces I admire. I don’t like anything too bold. I like to have a solid ‘background’ with one piece that stands out slightly more. I have reliable classics, such as black Levis and Clarks Desert Boots. I tend to steer away from using outlandish colors in how I dress or how I decorate my personal space.

DO IT YOURSELF: Autumn Table Décor

This past weekend was Canadian Thanksgiving. As the focus of this holiday is typically family and friends gathering around a meal together, it can be nice to put some thought into creating unique table settings for this special time. This DIY project demonstrates how to make a rustic candle holder that is quintessentially autumn. You can use it as part of your tabletop arrangement for a fall meal. With the addition of a runner made of burlap, some mini pumpkins and leaves; the table is set. Who’s ready for some turkey?

What you will need:

Cylindrical glass candle holder

Masking tape

Strong Glue


Fabric leaves


Small branch pruner


Rubber band

Step #1 – CUT TWIGS

After assembling small twigs of roughly the same circumference, use the branch pruner to cut twigs to the height of the candle holder.

Step #2 – GLUE TWIGS

Wrap masking tape around the candle holder near the top and the bottom. This will allow the glue an easier surface to grip to. Using a strong craft glue (or a hot glue gun), glue each twig vertically to the glass candle holder. Once you have glued twigs all the way around the candle holder, carefully place a rubber band around the outside of the candle holder and twigs to allow the glue to set.


Once the glue has set and dried, use scissors to make two small holes in a fabric fall leaf. Thread the twine through the holes and tie around the twig candle holder. Place a candle in the holder and enjoy.

DIY Tip – Opt to reuse materials. Instead of buying a glass candle holder for a craft, work with previously used mason jars or candle holders by simply removing old wax left behind.

STREET STYLE VS. DECOR: Leather is Better

Leather is a well-loved autumn style trend. Wardrobe elements such as a skater skirt, motorcycle jacket or combat boots are staples and can be worn year after year. They look great paired with seasonal knits and help to fend off chilly October temperatures. If you have yet to add a leather (or faux leather) piece to your fall wardrobe, get thee to a mall-stat. This season, designers such as Alexander WangMichael Kors and Rebecca Minkoff had models on their runways sporting the coolest leather pieces. Following its popularity during fashion week, use of the textile has overflown from the closet to the rest of the home.

As when you embrace wearing leather pieces, adding the element to a space instantly adds an edgier, downtown feel. Similar to your outfits, you can opt to exhibit a lot of leather or use accent pieces. While a favorite method of including small bits of the material are leather color blocked sleeves or riding pants with leather inserts, a similar strategy can be used to incorporate the textile into your space. There are several fun ways to use the leather trend in your own Dormista room:

Accent pillows from Bed Bath & Beyond

Display your most-liked leather pieces on a rolling rack

Cowhide rug on the floor

A cool leather chair at your desk

A tufted headboard from West Elm

How do you plan on incorporating leather into your space?