So you’ve got into uni — congratulations! This is where the adventure begins, as you step out of the family home and into your first-ever student accommodation. But while you get your head around cooking dinner every night, doing your laundry every week and attending 9AM lectures just about never, it’s only natural to sometimes find yourself missing home and all its comforts.
In times like these, a phone call or a quick visit back to your parents may be just the tonic you need. But if you’re still feeling unsettled, there are some things that you can do to make your uni room feel like home. Here are our top decorating tips to help you get used to your new digs.
Putting up photos of your friends and family will have you feeling their presence no matter how far you are from them. Whether it’s a snap from your school prom or a family holiday, it’s comforting to look back on memories made with the people back home and know you’re about to make some new ones too.
When hanging photos, prints and other wall decor, however, it’s important to be aware of your accommodation rules. You’ll want to avoid marking the paintwork or pulling out plaster with adhesives, so enquire instead about where you’re allowed to hang frames. The experts at Soho Frames explain that “nothing adds character to a room quite like pictures on the walls, but hanging a frame incorrectly, or in the wrong place, can dramatically undermine their effect and even damage your property.”
As well as looking a bit rubbish, this could rack up significant charges when you move out, so it’s always best to be cautious. Take care to position frames properly at eye-level, and if you’re doing it yourself, consider it a handy icebreaker with your new flatmates to collaborate and try to align it as straight as possible. Wall hangings save on space, too — leaving your surfaces free to stack books or study resources, and definitely not empty beer cans.
Incorporating soft furnishings like beanbags, rugs and cushions will make your new pad the comfiest around. If you have a blanket or even a cuddly toy (we won’t tell) that reminds you of home, this can take pride of place. Tactile features like these add warmth to even the most sterile of interiors, transforming your space into a refuge that you won’t want to leave — which will probably come in handy around deadline crunch-time.
You’ll also want to consider aesthetics. Depending on the style you’re going for, choosing a complementary colour scheme can help to tie your layers of soft furnishings together. For instance, interior design tastemakers at Ideal Home recommend grounding earth tones to make rooms feel cosy and cohesive — think taupes, beiges and warm pastels. This can make a welcome change from the lifeless interiors of many university halls.
House plants are a great way to brighten up any room, adding a splash of colour and a dose of the great outdoors to your space. And that’s not to say you have to plant a whole garden in your bedroom — low-maintenance options like windowsill succulents or potted herbs might be just the green-fingered touch you need.
What’s more, there’s research to suggest that having plants around can improve productivity when working, so you may well be setting yourself up for study success. They also provide a number of health and wellbeing benefits to those struggling with the growing pains of moving out: multiple studies have linked house plants with decreased stress levels and improved mood. So, if you’re new to a big and unfamiliar city, you can’t go wrong by decking out your room with some indoor greenery to keep the urban buzz at bay.
The stark overhead lighting of your uni room might keep you alert during those late-night study sessions, but isn’t the most relaxing setup to come home to after a long day on campus. Alternatives like fairy lights and candles can help you to personalise your space and provide softer, more ambient conditions for when you want to put down the textbook and chill.
Some room contracts will prohibit candle use, but there are other options that are considerably safer than a naked flame at a housewarming party. Himalayan salt lamps are one trendy alternative, as they are thought to be natural ionisers capable of boosting mood and lowering reported ratings of depression — although the literature on this is a little inconclusive. In any case, they emit a warming glow that provides the perfect backdrop for downtime in your new room.
Ultimately, these are just a few of the ways that you can use decor to get settled into your university accommodation. Be sure to fill your space with home comforts and you’ll soon banish any first-term nerves — before you know it, you’ll be in your grad robes wishing you could do it all over again.