Earlier this month, Bwog Deputy Editor Sahmaya Busby ventured to a Barnard dorm building to view News Editor Paulina Rodriguez’s decorative (and general) genius. 

On Sunday, November 12 , I arrived at a Barnard dorm building after sitting in a cafe and having a latte. I went inside of the glass doors and nearly continued my journey up when I was stopped by the sight of Barnard security and the ID scanner.

Ah, I’m a Columbia student. I must be signed in. I texted my interviewee and waited for her to rescue me while I waited in the lobby looking at the tiles of the floor and wall signs about signing in. Eventually, she came downstairs and signed me in with a rather quick form on her phone. We walked to the elevators and began our journey to her suite.

My subject, Paulina Rodriguez, is the News Editor here at Bwog. An avid fan of good literature and film, collages, Nicole Kidman, and the Skarsgård brothers, Paulina spends her free time reading and logging books, making playlists, and creating colorful synergistic collages. 

We arrived at her room which is in a shared suite. The door was decorated with sugar skulls that had recently been sent by Paulina’s mother for Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). We entered, and I was consumed by a visual feast of pinks, oranges, and blues. The pink curtains on the window immediately captured my attention upon walking in, but the best parts of the room lay in the wall decor and furniture accessories. 

Paulina described her wall decor by starting immediately to the right of her window. Two Met Museum prints (of which she is a frequent patron) and a framed portrait of her late dog Matilda, who is depicted as Saint Matilda. The whimsical frame is a highly-coveted Anthropologie find. 

The prints and Saint Matilda

On the next wall, Paulina pointed out some highlights, beginning with a photograph of her grandmother seated in front of a vanity: “It’s also [my] tattoo,” she pointed out, rolling up her sleeve to reveal a line drawing tattoo of the aforementioned photograph. The others include another portrait of Matilda, this time as embroidery, and a Bride of Frankenstein image. Paulina later explained, “The Bride of Frankenstein is from a package of Halloween decorations that my mom sent me because when I was a toddler, I was obsessed with this Bride of Frankenstein doll…I carried it around with me everywhere. And then I was Bride of Frankenstein for my second Halloween, and I had baby Docs so that I would clomp.”

Other features of this wall include art from what she calls her “Greek mythology phase,” spurred by a class she took last year. Prints inspired the phase include a piece of the Three Graces and another of Medusa. 

I am told that the framed photo used to be one of Paulina’s “clients”— celebrities to which she has a fond attachment— but the client was recently fired and replaced.

The next part of the wall was covered with floral-themed art prints, most of which were from the Met Museum. Paulina arranged the paintings in a somewhat rectangular shape, leaving a spectacle of bright colors on the wall to match the rest of the room’s decor.

The entire wall, including watercolor tiles Paulina painted and flower garlands

Continuing with the Greek mythology theme, this wall includes four framed prints depicting The Muses. Additional pieces include more Met Museum prints and a shadowbox created by her mother with shells from Mustang Island. We also get a look at the star of the show (in my opinion), the bookshelf.

The bookshelf in this room is filled with trinkets, including photos of friends, a Funko Pop Selena, Snoopy, and plenty of books: “I organize them by ones I have read…and ones that are to be read.” On the same shelf is one of her many plants, in a pot given to her by her father because, she says, “It reminded him of the ending of From Dusk Till Dawn (1996).”

One feature that caught my eye was the multi-faced mug inscribed “Mujeres Divinas” or “Divine Women.” Paulina offered a backstory on its creation: “It’s handmade from MujerArtes, which is an all-woman, all-low-income clay cooperative on San Antonio’s West Side whose art represents snapshots of their everyday lives.” Next to the mug are alebrijes, wooden animals created by the Jimenez family, Mexican master carvers.

Lastly, we ended with a painting by Nicolas Lorenzo, a Mexican artist, featuring what seems to be the devil and a skeleton, on which Paulina says, “I just thought it was a banger.”

We then moved on to other sights, including a framed A24 zine by Greta Gerwig (BC ’06), titled “Lady Saints and Mystics.” I also took the time to check out other decor, such as the plants and objects on the window sill.

Flowers and a candleholder—more leftover decorations from Día de los Muertos—in the window sill.
Greta Gerwig’s “Lady Saints & Mystics” zine for A24.
As I stated earlier, Paulina creates collages frequently. I also own one created by her.

Paulina manages to combine personal items, sentimental trinkets, and multiple forms of art—including her own. I left the room feeling slightly out-designed but in awe of her well-curated space and how she uses objects and space to create her an environment that reflects both her interests and personality.

The Big Picture!

All photos via author.