Home, sweet home
Name: Batoul Al Nahhass (23) from Beirut (Lebanon), master Human Decision Science
Amount of square meters: “almost twenty”
Monthly rent: € 350,-
“Would you like some banana with cinnamon, walnuts and honey?” Batoul Al-Nahass asks shortly after entering. “It’s my favourite thing. I always prepare it when I have guests over.” The room has no vertical windows. Instead the kitchenette has a glass ceiling, which reminds of a greenhouse due to the many plants: basil, chili, mint, lots of cacti, and even a flesh-eating plant (“I tried to hunt spiders for it but I haven’t caught one yet”). “I moved in one and a half month ago. The only thing here was the kitchenette counter, and the washbasin”, she tells while preparing the bananas and boiling water for tea. Thanks to her cousins who live in Utrecht, she was able to paint and furnish the room within two days.
Except for one wall that is painted in a blueish anthracite colour, all the walls are white. Candles have been lit and are spread throughout the room, together with yet more cacti. The bed and the couch are simple but creative and efficient: white-painted wooden pallets, with matrasses on top (“I’m not a diehard recycler, it just came naturally”). The pallets also serve as a storage space. There’s a small white table with an Aloe vera plant and two goldfish swimming in a large jar (“I keep changing their names”). All in all, the room is calm and peaceful. “Luckily I didn’t have to clean much, except for the cereal that was on my floor. We had a little spontaneous party yesterday, though not in my room. I probably just felt like having a midnight-snack.”
When asked about the coloured post-its with dates on a bulletin board, Al Nahhass confesses metaphorically: “I’m quite the procrastinator, so I write down the deadlines on my phone, my computer and here. It reminds me of what I have to do when the little monkey in my head tells me to have fun. When I procrastinate too long the ‘freaking-out monster’ comes, and it’s no fun anymore. Besides, there’s always this knowledge in hindsight that it could have been better if I had just taken a bit more time. I usually study at the library so I don’t procrastinate as much.”
With the exception of some kitchen cupboards, the furniture in the room does not reach all too high above the floor level. “Rheumatoid arthritis”, Al Nahhass explains. “My height is 1,46 meter. I didn’t have to take that into account while decorating. I just made sure that the stuff I need most often is not up there”, she says while pointing up.
Down, on the floor next to the clothing rack, are six pairs of Converse All-stars in different colours and models. “I just love these shoes. I can wear everything on them, and they’re really comfortable. Besides, they never go out of style; they’re timeless.”
“What I would still like to add to the room? Well, I’m looking for a kind of Indian-style tapestry to cover the second door in my room, behind my bed. Also, I’d really like to grow an olive tree here. And, of course, one can never have enough cacti.”