If you’re anything like me, your uni room is your ultimate sanctuary. At the start of every academic year, I would painstakingly paper my walls with posters and carefully coordinate my covers and cushions – then just months later decided that all my furniture needed moving around, or that my colour scheme was totally off. It’s true that a tidy room can improve your mood, but I found switching your decor up is even better.
Of course, on a student budget, popping out to the John Lewis home section is rarely an option. However, there are still plenty of creative ways you can give your room (or indeed your whole house) a fresh makeover without denting your precious student loan installments.
Go second hand
I’ve found some of my all-time favourite pieces of furniture in charity shops. Larger charities like the British Heart Foundation and Oxfam often have shops specifically dedicated to furniture. If you haven’t got one of these in your local town or city, smaller charity shops frequently sell beautiful vases, rugs and ornaments which you can buy for a steal. Often you’ll find yourself wading through a lot of rubbish, so make sure you’ve got the time to really look. The pay-off is worth it.
If it’s coming up to the spring months, check whether your local area does a car boot sale. Even if it’s a bus ride away, GO. I can’t recommend them enough – often sellers are so desperate to get rid of their stuff that you can get items of furniture, ornaments, rugs or mirrors for absurdly low prices. I once purchased a gorgeous antique mirror for £3 from a woman who I caught just before she put it back into her boot. If you go early, there’s more to look at, but go later (11am-12pm ish) and you’ll be able to barter as vendors are packing away their stalls.
Sales Sales Sales
Speaking of bartering, sales can be an excellent way of getting high-quality furniture or decorative items at a relatively low cost. If you’ve got your eye on something, wait until the big sales, which usually come around the end of each season, before pursuing it. See if your student discount can also be applied for further savings.
As the proverb goes, necessity is the mother of invention. With a little creativity, there’s loads of cheap or free ways you can decorate your room. Some string and clothes pegs, for example, can be combined to put your photographs on display, and leftover jars from your kitchen can be decorated then used to house tealights.
If you’re going on holiday soon, look out for pretty leaflets or flyers you might bring back with you. I picked up some colourful Japanese flyers on my last trip away, and though I have no idea what the writing says, the images on them look lovely pinned on my wall. Pinterest also has a treasure trove of ideas on re- or up-cycling old stuff, so head over there for further inspiration.
Grow your own
Research has shown time and again that having indoor plants can have health benefits, both mentally and physically. Conveniently, plants are also pretty nice to look at. Currently, a lot of larger chain shops are selling succulents and small plants – but they’re at rip-off prices.
For a better deal, go to your local market or florist, where plants will almost always be cheaper and the vendor can advise you on how to care for it. Personally, I always ask for the one that’s most difficult to kill, but it’s totally up to you
Okay, I know this one’s a bit of a cop-out, but for smaller items like lamps and bedside tables, IKEA can be a life-saver in terms of cost. Just make sure you have someone to cool you off while you build the thing. Without a car (who drives at uni anyway) it’s not the most convenient option for redecorating, but IKEA delivers, and by clubbing in with some mates you could slash the cost of delivery. Items like new duvet and pillow covers, for example, can really transform a room, and are a very cheap item to get from a store like IKEA or its equivalents.
Remember that it doesn’t take a total overhaul to create a new look, and if you’re getting rid of anything, be sure to offer it to your friends or give it to your local charity shop. Similarly, you could arrange a swap party with your mates to exchange the stuff you don’t want anymore – meaning you get something free, and nothing goes to waste.