Living in student accommodation or rented homes can often be a challenge to decorate. You can’t nail up any pictures or screw in any shelves, you can’t choose your appliances, or even your furniture in most cases. Here are some of my tips to decorate your student room or rented home easily, without risking your deposit.
Furniture & Furnishings
As a student, I’ve only ever lived in furnished properties, because I certainly can’t afford to buy a bed, or transport one for that matter! I can’t wait until I can get myself a nice bed with a frame, but until then, I’ve gotta make do with cheap, crappy beds, and ugly pine wardrobes. I always make my bed comfier with a good mattress topper, decent pillows, and cute bedding of course. IKEA, George @ ASDA and Dunelm are great for inexpensive, cute bedding.
This year my room didn’t even come with a chair, let alone any drawers, so I invested in some gorgeous Toulouse Dunelm furniture – I was lucky enough to find a girl on Depop selling her whole set for £130! It was a lot of money for me, but now I have some lovely furniture I can keep for the future… unless I ever live on a boat. I’ll write a blog post showing my bedroom soon, because this one is going to be long enough as it is!
I was also crazy enough to buy a multi-games table and build it all myself; it’s so fun, especially at parties.
Lamp shades are another easy way to change a rooms’ aesthetic quickly; I changed our living room lampshade to a chandelier-esque one, which reflects light across the room, making it a lot brighter. If you’ve got ugly curtains, you could always change those and put the old ones back on before you move out, or like we did, replace your shower curtain. We’ve got a periodic table one, so science-y.
I’ve filled our flat with various art, film posters, prints, and wall hangings, to the extent that a friend called it a ‘pop culture dream’ when he came round. It makes the place so much more homely, and the wall hangings help with keeping the place warmer to a certain degree.
I’m lucky enough to have an artist for a grandad, so I’ve got a couple of his paintings brightening up the walls – one in the living room, and one in the bathroom.
The Marvel superheroes print was only around £13 from B&M Stores, and the wall hangings between £5-7 from Camden market. Pro tip: fancy wrapping paper from Paperchase are great for lovely, cheap posters!
We’ve also got countless Elvis Presley’s around the place, because I’m his number 1 fan, but I have mostly limited that to my bedroom…
The highlight is this beautiful canvas print of Venus I was sent recently from Photo Wall. They have endless options of art, musicians, nature etc. available as canvas prints, in custom sizes of your choice. It came all rolled up in a tube, with all the necessary bits of wood and screws to construct it. I thought it’d be a challenge, or a two-man job, but it was easy and only took me about 10-15 minutes! I chose this Renaissance painting, titled Naissance de Venus by Alexandre Cabanel, because I’m a Classicist of course, and I absolutely love it.
In my experience of living in two student halls and two rented flats, command strips are the way to go when putting your art up. Blu-tack often stains walls, or pulls paint off, which you really don’t want when you’re renting. I’ve never had any issues with command strips, except for my Indiana Jones print, which fell off the wall last week… but to be fair, I probably didn’t put enough strips on, it’s bloody heavy.
Fairy Lights & Candles
Home Bargains sent me an awesome box of student-y things, including a candle, mason jar, and some little fairy lights, along with some other bits I’ll feature in a blog post soon (super cute stationery and party things!). I’ve put the fairy lights inside the jar, which looks cosy in the evenings, and goes nicely with the candles we’ve got in living room too. I’ve also stuck up my lovely hand-made rose fairy lights from Blaze-On, with help from some command hooks. I also picked up some cheap outdoor solar fairy lights from B&M stores, which are perfect for our balcony at night.
Plants & Little Decorations
I’m a sucker for homeware. I’d much rather buy cute little things and plants for my home than clothes or makeup… I’m definititely not a minimalist! I’d love to have a crazy, eclectic house like Carrie Fisher one day, along with a bath painted like the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine. It makes the place feel so much more like a home.
Cacti are the easiest plants to take care of, so I’ve got several in pink IKEA pots, and I like to have plants for cooking, like basil and coriander. I made a wonderful terrarium at Grace & Thorn (read the blog post here), but unfortunately it’s seen better days, and I need to get some new plants for it. Check out your local market and fill your house with nature! Tiger have lots of cute homeware things, including the hand plant pot pictured below.
Our previous lettings agents were great, and we had no issues with the property at all, except for a wobbly hand rail up the stairs. The new flat on the other hand, is a completely different story. I could write an entire blog post about the issues we’ve had with the lettings agents and the flat, but I’ll save that for another time… when I’ve moved out. In these situations, sometimes you can complain as much as you want about a leaking tap, or a window that doesn’t close properly, but they never sort it out.
When we moved in here, it was filthy. I mean, to the point that we didn’t want to soil any of our things by bringing them here. There was a full bin inside a cupboard, dust and dirt everywhere, cigarettes all over the balcony… and much more. The agents sent a cleaner, who didn’t even mop the floors, let alone clean the bathroom, so we had to take matters into our own hands. The hoover was absolutely awful, so my mum was amazing enough to buy me an awesome turbo hoover (who knew I’d be so excited by that at the age of 21). I’ve cleaned the oven about 5 times already, bought a ton of cleaning supplies, got rid of the mould… I’ve definitely earned the ‘domestic goddess’ title. I just couldn’t stand living in an unclean environment.
This was during August and September, before I started my master’s degree, and there’s still a few issues that I still don’t have time to fix. We’re getting smart electric/gas and water meters installed soon, which will help our bill costs, and I’m also thinking about hiring a professional to thoroughly clean our bathroom, and have a look at those leaking taps. The most convenient service I’ve found for these kinds of projects is Bidvine*. All you do is type in your postcode, and what kind of service you need, and it’ll come up with locals, and their rates. If I knew about it earlier, it would have been perfect for moving house – I spent an extortionate amount on hiring a van to move us just a mile down the road! (typical London eh?). With Bidvine, you can add photos and a detailed description, so you get tailored bids for whatever you need. There are also categories, for example ‘home improvements‘, that enable you to click through and quickly find a service. I will certainly use this next time I move, to hire a ‘end of tenancy’, cleaner, and a man with a van! You could even hire someone to help you assemble your IKEA furniture, or teach you how to cook.
They also have other fun services on there, including music teachers, catering, and even photographers, which would be great for all you fashion bloggers out there! I’m also intrigued by the health category, featuring nutrionists, stress coping, swimming, reiki, and personal trainers. It’s also a lot safer than hiring randomers off Craigslist, Gumtree or Facebook – these are trusted professionals.
Boy, that was long. I’ll make sure to show you my bedroom soon! Spoiler alert: it’s the cutest room ever.
How do you decorate your student / rented acommodation?
Thanks for reading,
*this blog post contains a sponsored mention of Bidvine, however, it is entirely my own writing and opinions. I was sent the canvas of my choosing from Photo Wall for consideration.