The academic year might have finished but if you’re staying on over summer in somewhere less than desirable, or if you’re dreading going back to a hovel in September or October, there are inexpensive ways to make your student accommodation feel like home.
All it takes is a little inspiration and a canny use of your budget to create somewhere where you can relax, entertain your mates and also release your creativity when it comes to course assignments and revising.
Now is the ideal time to plan a room revamp because you can take advantage of the summer sales before that pricier Autumn stock starts hitting the shelves.
The obvious place to start is to ask your family if there are any pieces of furniture or houseware they would like to donate. You don’t want enormous wardrobes or anything too hefty because you’ll end up hiring a van but if there’s a special picture, a mirror or bedside table, there’s no harm in asking is there?
Any interior designer will tell you that the right lighting can vastly improve a space and may even present you with ideas you hadn’t previously considered.
First off, make sure you are allowing as much natural light as possible into the space – really important for your health and mood, especially in winter.
That said, there may also be days when you want to restrict the amount of light getting in and if this is the case then consider fitting a good quality blind.
Then it’s time to look at how effective the existing lighting is and see if you can make some changes to brighten things up.
Online lighting stores like Lights.co.uk are great sources of value for money lights and inspiration. (There’s currently up to 70% off in their summer sale too).
Whether you choose stand-alone lamps to add atmosphere, task lights to help you work or a bit of country house chic with a rustic chandelier, improving your place’s lighting is an easy way to stamp your personality on the place and to define different areas (for eating, relaxing, working and so on) in even a relatively small space.
If you are making any big changes, however, it’s always best to check the terms and conditions of your rental agreement to keep your landlord happy.
You can get inexpensive fairy lights and hang them with some washi tape or 3M hooks, both of which are easily removable. You’ll find loads of ideas on how to use them on Pinterest. (Find me on Pinterest here). A great tip is to hang photos on your fairy lights for a unique illuminated display!
Remember, too, that most university halls won’t allow candles, so you are better off choosing electric tea lights.
If you can’t swipe any from home, then you’ll find plenty of great choices online or in your local stores – even the bargain stores offer cushions and throws these days. You’ll find some great ideas about where to look in this post.
Throws, in particular, are great for disguising less than sparkling upholstery, adding warmth on cold winter’s nights and providing spare bedding should anyone stay over.
If there’s another thing it’s worth buying better quality in, it’s bedding. Invest in decent thread count cotton sheets and feather and down pillows (unless you’re an allergy sufferer). Synthetic fabrics tend to leave you hot and sweaty when it’s warm. If the mattress is worn and is unlikely to be replaced for you, then consider shopping around for a new one – I love this memory foam mattress.
If you brought far too many clothes, books and shoes with you, you may quickly run out of storage space. Storage boxes are the answer – especially the ones that slide under your bed. You can even decorate them with fabric or paint them.
Yes, you could cover the fridge with photos attached with your unique collection of fridge magnets, but why not create a statement wall or corner and display all your most treasured photos of the people and pets who mean the most to you.
Why not visit your local charity shop or antique market and hunt out some really unusual frames or take a trip to IKEA where you’ll find all the frames you could possibly need (plus meatballs!).
Not advisable if you are a hayfever sufferer, but houseplants and flowers really lift a space, adding colour and, in some cases, helping to absorb radiation from computers. Cacti and Spider Plants are just two types of houseplant that help keep the atmosphere fresh.
Rather than just plonking a bunch of flowers in a vase, get creative too and display individual blooks in mini vases, painted bean tins or any quirky container you find on your travels.
There’s nothing like home-cooking, is there? I’m not sure my kids will miss mine, but if you miss your mum’s spag bol or your dad’s shepherds pie, then grab the recipe and give them a go if you have cooking facilities in your accommodation. You can’t go too far wrong with pasta, or even a simple piece of chicken or fish with some roasted veggies.
You can pick up cookware and bakeware quite cheaply at your local supermarket and food shopping will give you a break, allow you to nourish your body properly and make you very popular with your roommates. You’ll also save a small fortune on ready meals and takeaways too.
Are you a student? How do you make your student accommodation feel like home? Share your tips in the comments below.
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