Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Student bedrooms

Last week I wrote about the 50th anniversary of the Mathmos lava lamp (and the surprising character who invented it). I recalled the orange/yellow example I found in a junk shop in my teens and which I managed to transport through several moves around the country. Well this week I've found the photographic evidence. 


And some extras to boot. So here, I am slightly ashamed to admit, are my various student bedrooms; several featuring the very lamp, which you can see in my teenage abode at my parents' house, above.

I'm not sure how old I was when it was in this state. Possibly 17 or 18. Too old to have teddy bears lying around, I should think. But old enough to think I was classy with my very own bedside lava lamp (and quite nicely – for someone with a lava lamp in their bedroom, at least – colour co-ordinated with the painting above, done by my brother when he was at primary school).

But this, and above (the other side of the room) are as good as it gets.

Here is the room a few years earlier, with the dressing table in the position the bed is in in the first photo. The hairspray probably puts me at around 13 or 14 (the perm years). I liked horses. I liked photos of James Dean (it was the 80s, we all liked photos of James Dean – and Rob Lowe, and there's probably one there of Nick Kamen too somewhere).

An even earlier incarnation of the same room: same bed, different position. And some posters displaying my deep love of Madonna and Nick Heyward. And horses. And my mum was in her Laura Ashley and curtain pelmet phase. Before I moved into it, the room had been my brother's and I once discovered that wooden cupboard in the corner was where he kept a stash of rather educational magazines. It is now on my landing, full of towels. It still needs propping up on one side with cardboard.

This was my first university bedroom, in halls of residence on an old army barracks in Norwich. And there's that lamp again. And a sewing machine that I haven't used since. The black and white psychedelic artwork in the top right hand corner of the wall still has a special place in my home. And I can see a bedspread crumpled on the floor that now lives on the spare bed.

Wish I still had that classic Sugarcubes poster. Why oh why was there a portrait of Freddie Krueger on my wall though? And considering I was clearly so into documenting my bedroom decor, you'd think I might have tidied up before taking the photos.


This is where I lived the following year. Six of us lived in the house together. It was pretty grim – at one point there was a sizeable pond filling the entire floor surface of the downstairs bathroom, which we endured for weeks, possibly months – not thinking to stop using the bathroom. One or two of us were keen on cleaning and tidying (neither was me – as is clearly visible, I just got more slovenly).

This is my friend Shaun demonstrating the men's hairstyle of the day (sorry Shaun if you're reading). I still have that manky stuffed dog. It's horrible (and in the garage) I just can't bring myself to throw it away and see its sad button eyes staring out from a bin bag at me. Nice TV, no?

It wasn't called upcycling then. And there wasn't much "up" about my crass/lazy attempt at revamping a piece of the furniture included in the rent with blue and green paint. Incredibly, the Gilda poster on the right is still around and in one piece. She now lives in my office (here).

The golden hat stand is also still around (minus the 30s cloche) and now sits on a sideboard in my living room.

This was the first post college bedroom, in a flatshare in Brixton (there's my old friend the manky dog again, foreground). Again: was this my idea of styling a room for a photo back then? That bed! Jeez. Though, by way of distracting from the untidiness, this room has a claim to fame: we were always puzzled as to why there were so often young Japanese tourists taking photos of the exterior – until we finally discovered it had once, many years earlier, been the home of the Velvet Underground's Nico. Funny to think she probably had to pay her rent in cash to the terrifying landlady, Mrs Chin, each week too.

I have always carefully (hoardingly?) collected the things I've stuck on my walls with Blutack over the years in a folder that's made it through every move. And weirdly, the little pink and orange flowers on the left hand wall are now on my office wall, as is the postcard of the two little Scottie dogs on the floor... And look – there is the lava lamp!

1 comment:

  1. Love this post Kate, think I can relate to nearly all your posters. I'm just relieved I didn't photograph all my various student bedrooms!

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