How to make student halls homely

by - Thursday, October 23, 2014

For a lot of students, moving into halls or shared accommodation will probably be their first new bedroom away from the family home. For me, a token timid southerner dropped in this foreign land of Huddersfield where people say ‘Baff’ instead of Bath, Bread-cake instead of Bread Roll and seem to have ‘dinner’ at lunchtime, it was a little intimidating starting completely afresh, so it was vital that I had a bedroom where I felt comfortable. With a bit of creativity, a student room can be a reflection of your new independent personality, without breaking the bank.

Attack the walls
Let’s be more imaginative than a scantily clad Cheryl Cole/Channing Tatum or the ever clichéd Che Guevera/ Mixology hybrid. Just because you’re a student, doesn’t mean you can’t have a little class. How about a collage of some of your favourite photos from home, a beach scene or some abstract art? Look out for the poster sale that most Uni's offer through the year, which normally has a great selection of designs prices starting at just £3. 

When I moved to Uni in my first year, my lovely friends from home made me a great collage out of our antics as a leaving gift, and it kept me company all year. Plus, it didn’t cost me a penny. Just don’t forget the white tack, because first-hand experience tells me that blu tack is a nightmare to get off and may even result in you losing some of your deposit. Which certainly wouldn’t be part of your budget.

Make your own cushions and throws
Covering a bed in cushions is a great and cheap way to jazz up a plainer bedspread and give you something to cuddle up to if homesickness does kick in. Many fabric websites offer free fabric samples to sew with if you’re feeling crafty, or else Wilkinsons and Primark do a great line in cheap cushion inners and covers. I made a few cushions (some of which you can see above with my Sass & Belle fox and owl) out of free fabric samples from Terry’s Fabrics and Laura Ashley (amongst others), using a simple hand stitch, some cheap toy stuffing from the local market and a bit of patience.

Shop local, shop online
For the stuff you can’t get free samples of, it’s worth having a good browse online. Supermarkets like Asda and Tesco Direct tend to accommodate the student market best, often reducing basic items like bedding and cookware in the academic months, so it’s worth keeping an eye on their online offers. Stores like Home Bargains, Matalan and Dunelms are also worth a rummage - two pillows and a double duvet from Matalan cost me just £13 in my first Semester. Make sure to check out your local stores too - Yorkshire Linen is easy to ignore in Huddersfield town centre but I manged to bag some serious bargains.

Jazz up basics
When you’re moving out for the first time, there are a lot of simple, boring things to be bought, and it can get pretty expensive. Whilst there is no shame in buying low-cost basics, you can still personalise them to look a bit more interesting. An old copy of NME or Cosmo, some PVA and a bit of imagination can turn a basic flat pack box from a supermarket into something more eye catching and durable, and a godsend if storage in your halls is a little on the thin side. Get imaginative! A plain shower curtain in a bright colour will make a claustrophobic ensuite look a bit more inviting, as will a throw over a desk chair, a cheap rug or even some jazzy stationary to help you get going with that dreaded assignment. Hobbycraft’s website has a great section of craft tutorials, as do a whole heap of blogs

Get snap happy
Take photos not just of home, but of your experiences over the year too. Call me a sentimental sap, but covering my pinboard in flyers from nights out and gig tickets reminded me of all the new memories I was making on top of pictures of my old friends from home. Mix them all up and you’ll soon realise that there doesn’t have to be a divide between your old and new life. Websites like Snapfish and Kizoa offer printing discounts to first time account users. Plus, when you’re old, have your degree and weeknight nights out are nothing but a distant memory, you can gaze fondly at the picture of you holding your mate’s hair back as she spews into the gutter after one too many jagerbombs. Priceless.

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