Decorating Your Bedroom on a Student’s Budget

So you’re braving the fee increases and planning to make the move to uni this September. This is the first time in your life that you are free from the folks and able to live exactly as you choose. And when it comes to moving into your new crash pad you want to make your mark. University halls of residence can be a little on the austere side, and private rented accommodation for students doesn’t usually come with a flair for interior design. The chances are you’re decorating on a budget that’s pretty tight too. Here’s a quick look at some creative ways you can add character and comfort to your new bedroom, without blowing your all-important beer budget.

Affordable accessories

According to, you don’t need to have a huge budget to turn a lifeless grey halls of residence room into a real home-from home. Chances are the architect and designer of your new living quarters was fond of grey concrete and neutral walls. Don’t despair. Liven up your room with some simple accessories such as a pretty lampshade, cheap curtains, bright bed linens or a throw and you’ll instantly spread some cheer. Don’t live near a branch of Ikea? Check out TK Maxx for great bargains on well-known names. This example shows you how it’s done, by accentuating the green feature wall with a cute complimentary-coloured dog and contrasting Union Jack cushions.

A word on walls

Many halls of residence have strict rules about putting things on your walls. If this is the case, you might want to consider a printed photo canvas that can be leaned against a wall or propped on your desk. Photo canvases come in all shapes and sizes, even going as large as AO – a huge canvas printed with one of your favourite holiday snap is an instant room livener. What’s more, if you are allowed to decorate your bedroom walls never use nails. You’ll be expected to pay for any damage you do.

Co-ordinate your colours

While clashing prints may be big news on the catwalks this summer, when you’re working with limited space and funds it makes sense to keep your colour palette clean. Stick to the same colours and go for plain fabric for your new accessories – that way they will be easier to replace when the inevitable red wine spills occur. Choose happy colours that remind you off home and complement each other well – try introducing patterned cushions, vases or ornaments to add a splash of panache.

Creative collages

Often all you’ll have in your room is a pin-board area that you can decorate with photos, posters and prints. To cram the maximum amount of personal memorabilia into this small creative space get snippy with a cool collage. Use photos from home, clippings from magazines, photobooth snaps, excerpts from your favourite books or even nightclub flyers. You can also use this technique to transform ugly, second-hand pieces of furniture that you pick up during your studies too. And while it’s amazing for affordable essentials, interior design doesn’t always have to mean Ikea. Trawl flea-markets and second hand stores near your campus to pick up one-of-a-kind bargains and add some quirky-cool to your room.

Get organized

You’re not going to have much space to play with, so it makes sense to get on top of your tidying. Keep your bedroom clutter free by investing in some good quality storage. Boxes you can slide under your bed are brilliant for keeping your clothes out of the way – check you’ve got room under your bed before you buy though! Choose folding furniture wherever possible and make sure you buy plenty of files and document storage boxes. The last thing you want is your style cramped by your course notes!

A word of advice: Before you go buck-wild with the redesign, remember that any damage or changes you make to your property will have to be paid for when you leave. Store away any offending items that come with your room under your bed or at the bottom of your wardrobe. Make sure you put it back where it was before you head home for summer. And remember, no nails!

Decorating a bedroom on such a slim budget can be tough, so something you could do is to buy items that look expensive, to make your room have a more of a sophisticated look. Some mirrored furniture would look fabulous.

One thought on “Decorating Your Bedroom on a Student’s Budget

  • May 4, 2012 at 8:25 am

    I’m definitely not a student anymore, but for years now I’ve been cramming a music studio into a small space in my apartment and this stuff rings true. For me, going vertical saves a lot of space, I like putting shelves from floor to ceiling in my small rooms.


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