When I packed my bags and went off to uni all those years ago, I arrived into an empty shell of a student dorm room where the most personalising I did to the space was to make my bed up with my duvet cover from home and throw a few books and framed photos onto the shelves – and it pretty much stayed that way for the entire four years!
Roll on (ahem!) twenty years and I’m pleased to see that things have definitely moved on. Students renting rooms have a plethora of choice when it comes to shopping to customize that little square of space to call their own, from the mainstream movers such as Ikea with their low priced lighting and furnishing designs to the more individual and quirky styles found at the likes of Urban Outfitters and H&M. When it comes to dorm room decor, there really is no excuse to have to splurge out more cash than you have to – lighting, storage and bedding in particular can be picked up at very reasonable prices and in pretty cool designs; you just have to be a little creative in your shopping sometimes!
So, whether you’re a fresher student heading off to your first term at college, a newbie graduate renting for the first time or even a parent who’s looking for cool pieces for their teenager’s bedroom, I’ve been taking a look at how you can get the look for less…
Quite possibly the first consideration students make when shopping for their room is what to put on the bed. Let’s face it, on those mornings when they have no classes, they’re going to spend a considerable amount of time there, so may as well make it cosy!
Coming into the Autumn and especially when counting the pennies, it can get a little chilly in a student flat at the best of times, so layer up the bed with cotton sheets, plump pillows and a thick knitted throw. Keep the cost down with plain bedlinen (usually much cheaper than patterned styles) and bring in pops of colour in the form of throws and cushions. H&M have a wonderful range of plain bedlinen priced from around £15 for a single set, such as this washed cotton duvet set, which comes in navy, grey, white or pink. La Redoute is another good place to find bedding, such as this two-tone cotton flannel duvet cover and these matching pillowcases. The cotton flannel is really soft and warm for those cold winter months and which student doesn’t love a reversible duvet cover when economising on the laundry costs?!
If you prefer a patterned set, there are lots of reasonably priced options to choose from; go for bold, geometric designs or statement stripes, both look really good against plain white walls. Next, Ikea and Zara Home have good patterned choices.
When living in dorm accommodation, your bed will more often than not double up as a settee when your friends come over or if you’re reading your notes in bed, so plenty of comfy, stacked up cushions will always be a welcome addition. Again, H&M is hard to beat for cool and quirky cushion designs, many for under £3.99. (Just grab a couple of cushion pads from the parents’ home first!)
2 Desk Decor
For every student, there will undoubtedly be plenty of hours put in sitting at a desk, so it has to be comfortable and functional first. Dining and/or office chairs can be picked up for a few pounds in the likes of Ikea, as can desks and shelving, however have a nose around your local charity shop or auction house for second hand wooden desks that can easily be upcycled with a lick of paint and some new drawer handles.
Ensure you have enough room on your shelves and in your desk drawers for books, papers and stationery, in order to keep things organised. Remember a clear desk means a clear mind! Pop pens, pencils and other smaller items into colourful containers – cheap and cheerful coffee mugs, vintage tea tins, melamine beakers and old jam jars can all be repurposed to store your stationery so that it’s within easy reach. Try making your own quirky pen pots out of empty tin cans dipped into a little emulsion paint from a tester pot like these ones.
Make sure the area is well lit with an adjustable task lamp such as this one, then decorate your shelves with some pretty string lights for those evenings you want to chill out (try to opt for LED/battery operated string lights as some colleges disallow traditional fairy lights for safety reasons). As the picture below shows, little baskets and boxes can be invaluable for storing all those bits and pieces you need to be able to locate easily, such as student cards, keys and phone chargers, without them being strewn around your bedroom floor!
Make your student bedroom or dorm your own with plenty of bright and colourful artwork, prints and personal snaps on the walls. From simply pegging your photographs along a length of string or wire (like this one) to creating a cool and quirky display of framed postcards, quotes and art, you can totally transform a drab, empty wall space into a focal feature of the room. Etsy has a fantastic and varied range of art prints for under a fiver that can be bought and downloaded, then printed out and framed, so do take a look. Also, again your local charity shop is worth a look inside for old postcards or paintings that might take your fancy, even if it’s just the frame you’re after! They can be spray painted in bright colours to your personal taste.
If you’re looking for a more easily changeable wall display or your landlord isn’t keen on you drilling holes into the walls to hang frames, how about using strips of patterned washi tape to stick up your favourite photos and pictures? It can look really funky and even better, it won’t take any paint off the wall!
4 Go Green
Greenery is a must in any room, with student dorms being no exception to the rule. Plants encourage a healthy environment to work and rest in, due to their air purifying qualities, but they can also look pretty cool when displayed right and their pleasing aesthetics can lower stress levels. Larger retailers such as Homebase or your local supermarket will offer a good range of reasonably priced indoor foliage, but do check out local florists and garden centres, too.
Hang trailing plants from a curtain pole or high shelf for a slightly retro vibe or mix up a larger potted plant sitting on the floor with a group of succulents up on a shelf. The bonus with succulents and cacti is that they require very minimal maintenance!
Finally, here are some great student budget-friendly High Street pieces that you can shop via the links below…
// S H O P : N O W //
1 SVIRVEL Work Lamp // £15.00 // IKEA
2 Triangle Geo Bed Set (single) // £15.00 // Next
3 Copper Hanging Peg Board // £6.00 // Primark
4 ‘Enjoy Today’ text print cushion cover // £3.99 // H&M
5 House Additions ‘Twizzle’ Throw // £18.21 // Wayfair UK
6 Pink LED Lights Star Plaque // £9.99 // New Look
7 Black Letter Sticker Bunting // £5.99 // New Look
8 Pastel Clouds Mug // £2.00 // Primark
9 ‘Be a Flamingo…’ Print // £5.00 // Etsy
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