Chances are your uni halls or student house will be somewhere between ‘a bit basic’ and ‘what’s that smell?’. If things switch on and off when they’re supposed to, a lack of loveliness isn’t a deal breaker – yet you don’t need tons of cash or creativity to feel at home.
There are limits to what you’re allowed to do to student accommodation, so keep it simple. Think clean, clear and colourful, and you’ll be cosy in no time.
1. Avoid clutter
Treat packing for uni like applying fake tan: it’s easier to top up than deal with the excess. That doesn’t mean going fully minimalist – just pack with transport and storage in mind.
- Plastic crates with lids are great for moving day, and double as storage if you’re short of drawers or shelves
- Check what’s included in the rent: you may not need to buy a desk lamp, cutlery or other basics.
- Sharing? Try to co-ordinate who brings common gadgets. No house needs more than one kettle (and your electricity bill will thank you).
2. Keep it clean
Keeping stuff spotless means fewer smells, slugs, bugs or mice. It’s also far nicer for studying, sleeping or having mates round.
This is where those plastic crates are twice as nice: if don’t do your dishes or hang clothes up straight away, stick them in a box and pop the lid on until you’re ready to deal with them. Keeping your mess contained goes a long way to defusing arguments with flatmates, too …
3. Grow pleasing things
Fruit, veg and flowers can thrive in almost any kind of container, from boots to birdcages. You can grow lots of plants from seed for pennies, they brighten the place, plus you can munch the edible stuff later on. If you’ve ever binned uneaten salad, or don’t want to pay supermarket prices for fresh veg, make-do gardening is worth a go!
4. Get hands-on
Before buying brand new, check gumtree, freecycle and local noticeboards to find furniture and furnishings for free, cheap or swaps. Even a quick scrub and polish can get these into decent condition, though you can go as far as you like. Selling rescued furniture when you move (or as a side business) can bring in a bit of profit, too.
Alternatively, have a wander through YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest for arts, crafts and life hacks. It’s hard to feel like it’s a chore when you’re making your own candles or turning plastic cups into phone speakers.
5. If it’s your fault, fix it
Most things that go wrong in a student house are likely to come under the landlord’s watch – so make sure they stick to the bargain.
However, if you break, smash or scratch your landlord’s gear take action early (or you could end up with a dent in your deposit instead):
- A small tester pot of paint can cover up minor wall issues – but only if you know the exact shade to use
- Plaster filler can fix damage from nails and pins, but it’s best to avoid the issue altogether: check what kind of fixings are allowed and, if in doubt, stick with a pin board
- Don’t just replace furniture or fittings and hope your landlord doesn’t clock it. Flag it up and agree what you’ll take care of.
Giving your rented accommodation some TLC doesn’t make for a nicer home – it makes it more likely you’ll get your deposit back in full, plus it shows you’re a keeper when it’s time to renew the lease.