Students up and down the country are preparing to start their university courses. Here are 10 tips for transforming your student bedroom from hovel to haven.
1. Brighten up your bed
Your bed is essentially going to be your sofa, so do invest in cheerful, colourful bedding and a few cushions and throws to brighten it up. You don't need to break the bank to do this: Ikea does a vibrant chequered duvet and pillow set for €20.
If you can’t afford cushion covers, you (or a willing relative) can easily sew them, using any cheap material that takes your fancy from fabric stores. Mix-and-match contrasting colours look fun and relaxed. Don’t, whatever you do, go for light colours. You might be able keep it clean, but someone else is definitely going to spill wine on it.
2. Opt for floor lamps
Decent lighting will go a long way towards making a room feel cosy – especially useful for late-night gatherings, or when you’re hammering out an essay at 3am. A university friend of mine never switched on her overhead light but instead invested in cheap floor lamps from Argos – you can pick up a large tube-shaped one for €13. Others go down the fairy light route, though bear in mind these are somtimes banned for safety reasons.
3. Bring a teapot
Those early days at university are all about making friends, and nothing entices people in like a cup of tea (apart from alcohol, of course). The sight of a bright teapot on a shelf or desk is also a welcome pop of colour and homeliness in those often dungeon-like student rooms. Don’t bother with providing lots of mugs – everyone will have their own chipped number to bring along. Carolyn Donnelly Eclectic Blush Teapot €15 in Dunnes Stores is adorable and girlie.
4. Decorate your walls
Posters and framed pictures are the obvious bet, but hanging things on the walls is often outlawed. If you can get away with it, use white tack or invest in no-hole picture hanging strips for minimum damage. Sales at the Student Union are a good source for posters, as is the All Posters website. Many students decorate their walls with a collage of photographs, postcards and pictures torn from magazines, which can instantly personalise a bland space and covers up nasty marks on walls. If allowed, you can also use temporary wall decals or stickers. Not on the High Street sells a quirky range, including a fun blackboard map of the world for you to doodle on – though there's a risk it'll leave a few marks when you peel it off at the end of the year.
If you don’t want to use adhesives, try looping bunting or paper chains across surfaces, such as around the top of a wardrobe or a doorframe. Photographs dangled from a string using bright pegs can also look fun, though beware of scaring off a new social circle by filling your room with images of your friends from back home.
5. Remember a doorstop
Much like the teapot, this is a sure-fire way to get people to pop their heads through your door in those important early days – but it’ll be equally useful in your third year for tempting people in for revision breaks. You can buy a conventional wooden one for a few euro.
6. Make features of your possessions
You’re not going to be able to afford antique clocks or leather armchairs (unless you happen to be a modern-day Sebastian Flyte), so try to make your ordinary possessions focal points. The female students in my year went through a phase of pinning lengths of colourful ribbon along shelves or fireplace ledges, then threading their earrings through them – instant colour and sparkle for the cost of a metre of ribbon. Pretty scarves and wraps draped across the back of chairs, over your desk or tied around bedposts will also make your room look more attractive – plus, they won’t be all over the floor.
7.Snap up some speakers
8. Get a noticeboard
Nothing is more useful than a noticeboard – pin your lecture timetable, your gig tickets and (until you've memorised them) your friends' phone extension numbers on it. Many student rooms already come with a board, but you can buy them for under a fiver on Amazon. Just lean the board against the wall your desk faces if you’re not allowed to hang it up. An expanse of cork always looks boring, so cover it with pretty paper or a big piece of fabric. Whiteboards can also be handy - use them for everything from brainstorming essays to games of hangman.
9. Seek out a screen
If your room is big enough (and if you're living in one of those badly-chopped up houses where every room from the loft to the cellar has been converted into a bedroom, it might be), see if you can find an old-fashioned folding screen. Students spend so much time in their university bedrooms, they can quickly feel claustrophobic – a screen separates your working area from your sleeping area and can make the room feel more spacious.They’re also excellent for throwing clothes over. Keep an eye out on eBay, recycling websites such as Free Trade Ireland and in charity shops. You can easily decorate it yourself with wallpaper and fabrics, or use it as a display board for photographs and posters.
10. Bring stackable, foldable boxes
Though they might seem boring, these boxes are ideal for bringing your possessions to university and packing everything up at the end of term. In the mean-time, you can keep them folded under your bed (infinitely preferable to having three suitcases piled precariously on top of your wardrobe). You can also use them for storage - fill them with overdue library books or, if you don't have enough wardrobe space, clean bedding or clothes that you don't wear too frequently.