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How to make your uni room feel like home

Budget-friendly ways to decorate (even though you’re only here for eight weeks)

Packing up and moving out for every university holiday means it’s tempting to never really ‘move in’ in the first place. Visiting various fresher rooms that look as bare and empty as they did on move in day, one always comes back to the same words: “There’s no point making it look nice because I’ll have to take it all down in eight weeks anyway.”

"But no!" I cry, again and again. For the 30 minutes it takes to put up some photos you get a room that looks actually habitable. It becomes a space of your own that you look forward to coming back to at the end of the day. Plus, nothing kills the vibe of some pre-drinks like sterile white walls that are practically crying out for some decoration.

That’s why I have compiled a list of ways to make your room feel like home, no matter how temporary your residence will be.

Photos, photos and more photos:

This one is obvious but I still see rooms completely void of any kinds of photos. Your room probably has a pin board so why not use it? The trick is to stop making sure all the photos are ‘nice’ looking: it’s about how it makes you feel, not how it looks. Use that blurry seaside photo that reminds you of your family holiday, the too-zoomed-in photo of your dog and the one where none of your friends are looking because they’re all laughing too much. Those kinds of decorations are for you, not for anyone else.

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Make the most of your pin board

How to handle blank walls:

Nobody wants to forfeit their hefty deposit by accidentally leaving blu-tac stains on the wall or taking off some paint chips with sellotape. A great way to cover blank walls in photos (without ruining the walls with blu-tac) is to hole punch each photo and thread them together with a piece of string. Then tie this like a piece of bunting to wherever you can (I’ve used the otherwise-seemingly-useless wooden picture rail). You could even use your curtain rail as long as you open the curtains carefully each day. If you’re feeling fancy, you could even hang lots of pieces of string vertically and pin pictures all the way down.

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Postcards on string also do the trick!

The bigger (wall hanging) the better

If a big blank wall looms over your room, covering it all can seem like a monstrous task. That’s where a giant wall hanging comes in handy. But this does not need to be something you spend much (even any) money on. Raid your mum’s wardrobe for an old scarf, find some off-cuts of material in a charity shop or even cut up an old sheet and get some friends round for a messy evening of drunk mural-painting. You can use pins to hang it up or command strips if you have nothing to pin it to.

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Map it out

If you haven’t had a chance to tell everyone about your ‘gAp yEaR’ or ‘iNterRaiLing’ then this is the opportunity. Print off an old map (splitting it onto two A4 sheets works absolutely fine) and either some photos, postcards or memorabilia (old tram cards, museum tickets, receipts) and pin it around the edge with string drawing it to the location. Granted, this one takes a while to pack away but it serves as a visual reminder for some of your best memories as well as being a good conversation starter for anyone who walks in.

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"Did you knOw I weNt inTerraIling?"


Even better, if you’re an international student or if you have any kind of strong connection with your cultural background then this can be a brilliant way to make your room really represent you.

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The trick is not to try and recreate the room you have back home. If you keep taking posters down from one wall and putting it up again when you’re back home, it will always feel like you’re living out of a suitcase in which your two rooms blur into one. Filling your uni room with new photos that you perhaps don’t have on your walls at home (or even better, of friends you made at uni) can also help with homesickness as it stops you from ‘recreating’ what you have back home and instead helps you to forge a new space that is entirely your own.

So, take a long hard look at the four walls around you and think: does this feel like home? If not, get out the pins, string, and photos and get to work.

All photos are the author's own