Make it Yours

When I first moved into halls, I arrived with enough trinkets, cushions, and storage solutions to cover every surface. Twice. The longer the year went on, the more objects I’d try to hide in the wardrobes. Trying to find space for a notepad and laptop on an over-cluttered desk proved incredibly difficult, and who really has the time to arrange seven throw cushions? This year, I’ve come to accept the fact that I will inevitably reorganise my room once every fortnight. However, no matter how much rearranging I do, some things always remain. Here’s my top tips for accessorising your uni room:


  1. Clear space. Upon moving into your new room, you’ll be tempted to do everything you can think of to make it ‘yours’. While it’s important to make sure you feel at home, try to keep it practical. This applies to desk space in particular. A lamp, pencil pot, and your computer or laptop are the only essentials, in this case. Outside of this, a couple of photos or trinkets is probably enough. You’ll thank yourself when you sit down to write an essay!


  1. Photo grids. Photo grids are a great, minimalistic alternative to notice boards or photo frames and prevent you from having to put holes through anything you want to hang up. They can be a little difficult to get to grips with, but the final look is worth it! I opted for mini-prints to allow me to hang more photos but maintain the minimalistic vibe I was looking for.


  1. Leave room. The more you do at uni, the more you’ll collect. Any ball you go to could have a photo booth, and if you’re like me you’ll be collecting tickets and trinkets at any opportunity. Try to account for this when you’re packing and leave room to acquire new things.


  1. Fairy lights. This can be a risky game. Fairy lights seem like the perfect solution to create some warm, subtle lighting. However, it’s very easy to go overboard – one or two sets is probably enough! They look great on bedframes or hung around a photo grid. If they have battery packs, hang them somewhere that this can be hidden.


  1.  Rugs. Carpets in halls and student housing will ordinarily be threadbare, and a colour that won’t match the bed linen you’ve chosen. (To be honest, it might not even match the walls.) If you’ve got the floor space, I definitely recommend a rug. A rug will help to tie the whole room together in terms of colours and is far more effective in achieving the feeling of home than over-cluttering your desk with houseplants you’ll forget to water.


Make it yours but keep it simple.

Easy Living

This week I’ve received a few emails from my university telling me that it’s Housing Week. My university provides accommodation for all first-year students, but having spent my first year in halls I was definitely relieved to be moving to a space that I’d chosen myself. Some parts of the process played out as smoothly as I could have hoped, but there a few things I wish I’d known last year. Here’s my advice for finding private student accommodation:

1. Choose your housemates wisely. Moving to uni is daunting – there’s no other way to say it. One of the most difficult parts is being randomly allocated to a flat or corridor full of people you’ve never met, and might not get on with. Moving to private accommodation is your chance to pick your own housemates, but you have to pick carefully. How does their work ethic or lifestyle compare to yours? Are they clean? Loud? Pedantic? It all counts!

2. Location. Obviously, close to uni. But there might be a bit more to it. Universities have many surrounding areas with completely different atmospheres. Every university town tends to have an area packed full of uni students, and the nightlife is usually the best there. Other areas of town will have a calmer atmosphere, with fewer student houses. If nightlife isn’t really your thing, think about moving to these areas instead.

3. Be wary. Take note of horror stories from second and third years about estate agents in your area. If lots of different people tell you to avoid a particular estate agent, it’s probably worth listening to them. If the estate agent you settle on tells you that there are forty other viewings for your property in the next three days or that anything is ‘flying off the market’, take it with a pinch of salt. If you’re not certain, don’t settle.

4. Ask questions. That bit of damp in the bathroom? Ask about it. That broken gas ring? Ask about it. Whose responsibility is it to get it sorted? Make sure you know what you’re signing up for.

As a bonus, here’s a couple of tips for after your accommodation is secured:

1. Read everything. Landlords and estate agents don’t always expect students to read their tenancy agreement or inventory before they sign them, which is exactly why you should make sure you do. If there’s a scratch on the wall that isn’t mentioned in the inventory, have it amended. If the carpet in the hallway is peeling up at the corner, have it amended. (All in the interest of your security deposit, obviously.)

2. Discuss everything. The more you discuss in advance, the easier moving in will be. For example, if all the rooms are different sizes, decide who gets which room beforehand. Bills should also be sorted in advance: if your rent doesn’t include a bills package, discuss things like direct debits and standing orders to make sure that nobody is left short of money.

Good luck!