Friday, 23 September 2016

Decorating Your (Uni) Room on a Budget

A new academic year is just around the corner and for me that means living in a student house instead of in college (aka halls) and also the extremely exciting opportunity to decorate my new bedroom. I did my best to make my room in college pretty and personal by putting up posters, photos and fairy lights but given that it was so small and had a lot of storage and shelving built in there was only so much I could do, whereas my new room is a lot bigger and barer so it's a real blank canvas.

It's been a long process of gradually buying bits and pieces and trying to bring it all together coherently (and it's a process which is still ongoing since I have a whole load of stuff at home than I'm going to take with me when I go) so I thought I would put together a post on how to decorate a uni bedroom to impart my wisdom and generally explain how I've been going about it. A lot of this can be applied to any bedroom but I'm focusing on a university room which assumes there is some basic furniture provided (i.e. a bed, desk and wardrobe) and that you have limited scope when it comes to how much you're allowed to do to it (i.e. no painting or major adjustments). The emphasis is on how to do it on a budget because lets face it, your student loan has to cover other things like food and ridiculously expensive textbooks. Also, this isn't a room tour because I'm not in my uni house at the moment but I'm definitely planning on doing one when I get there!

Gotta love Pintrest

Get inspired. There's so much you can do to brighten up even the most drab uni bedroom and it definitely doesn't need to involve spending a fortune. Pintrest is ideal for providing visual inspiration for themes and colour schemes as well as ideas for DIYs so it's a great place to start looking - check out my 'bedroom' board, for example. Another place I often find inspiration is IKEA, particularly the showroom section where they have all the rooms set up because it helps to see ideas in the flesh and they're designed to make the best use of a small space. I also really like watching room/house tours on YouTube because I can do it without leaving my bed - as I mentioned in my summer favourites I've been loving Gabbie's (aka velvetgh0st) vlogs and videos and I really like her taste in homeware and the way she decorates her flat(s).

Plan it. If you're like me and you love shopping and homeware it's tempting to rush out and buy all sorts of stuff but it's so much more cost effective to sit down and really plan your room. Obviously it's helpful if you already know what the space looks like because you know what you've got to work with, but even if you haven't seen it there's a lot you can think about to start off with. The first thing to do is to decide if you want to have a particular theme or colour scheme because then you can have something to focus on while shopping. For my uni room I've decided to go with a dark pink, purple and turquoise colour scheme where possible, mostly because those are my favourite colours and also as it's relatively easy to find things in those colours - but I'm not sticking too it too rigidly. Theme-wise I've always thought it would be nice to do a sort of wanderlust thing as it would be quite easy to achieve: think maps on the wall, travel photos displayed, unfinished wood decorations and vintage-effect storage boxes.

Budget. There's no point spending a fortune on luxury furniture or decorative items if you're only living there for a year, so buy stuff that can be used again at some point in your life or that it won't matter too much if you have to leave behind. It's important to balance the potential cost with how committed you are to making your room look a particular way.

My uni bedroom last year

Make a shopping list. To start off with decide what you need aka things that are actually necessities. Some basic items which I think are essential for every bedroom include bed linen (duh), a desk lamp, storage boxes and a small bin/wastepaper basket. Once you have these essentials it's time to start thinking about things you want, by which I mean decorative items such as photo frames, ornaments and posters because it's all about achieving a balance between practicality and aesthetics.

Use what you have. Even if you don't hoard everything away 'just in case' *ahem* you've probably got some stuff which could be upcycled, repurposed or just plain borrowed. Odd sets of Christmas lights that aren't used all year round can become a set of fairy lights would around a curtain pole or draped over a wardrobe, while anything can be brightened up and given a new lease of life with a lick of paint including furniture and storage boxes. For instance, I'm planning to paint a wooden box that my grandad made for my mum's bedroom when she was little and use it as a bedside table! It's worth asking around to see what family and friends are hoarding away and would part with because you never know what you might find.

Buy from the right places. This goes hand in hand with budgeting, but do your research into where you can get the things you want for the price you want. I've found that Argos's ColourMatch range is brightly coloured and brilliant value for everything from rugs to lamps; Primark Home can be great for bright and fun duvet covers, quirky ornaments and little sets of fairy lights; and lets be real, IKEA is always a good idea, especially for furniture and storage solutions. Plus, don't discount places like Wilko and Poundland for basic things like cushions, and charity shops or car boot sales for unique vintage items with extra thrift factor.

My favourite way to display photos

Be creative. It's so easy to add a personal touch to a room with minimal cost and maximal effect. My number one tip is to print out photos! I do this using photo printing websites (Photobox and Lalalab are my favourites) but you can do it at home too providing you have photo paper and permission to use all of the printer ink. Then the possibilities are endless: frame them, use blu-tak to create a photowall, arrange them in a pattern, or use string and pegs (these ones are an ideal size) to make a 'washing-line' of snaps to a wall. You could also create a display wall or pinboard of things that inspire you, a sort of collage of prints, posters, photos, postcards, magazine pages - anything that will make an impact. If blu-tak isn't strong enough an alternative is command strips (which I am fully intending to buy because it actually says I can use them in my house contract so I'll blame it on that if they take the paint off, but hopefully they won't).

And that's it! Maybe all this stuff is completely obvious but I just really love decorating things and making my bedroom look nice - I hope someone found it helpful!


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