As a new student, moving to a new house, a new city and possibly away from your friends and family can be daunting, especially if you have to live on a tight budget in rented accommodation that seems cold and lonely.
It;s easy to create a haven away from the chaos of university and college life. If this is your first time away from home your new temporary home will become even more important to you. You want a space that you feel relaxed in and where you can you can turn off and be yourself. Even if you only have a room in hall or in a shared house, you want it to feel like home.
Living in someone else’s house can leave you feeling a little like a permanent visitor, but you don’t have to. There are lots of different cheap and cheerful things you can do to make a rented room feel like home. With a few thrifty Make it and Mend it skills you’ll soon turn your house into a home.
Before you start
- Check your rental agreement. Most agreements won’t allow you to change any of the permanent fixtures and fittings or paint the walls, but some do, so it’s worth checking this out.
- Work with your landlord. If you want to make any bigger changes, ask your landlord’s permission. Better to do so beforehand, than wait until they find out and complain.
- Set a budget and stick to it. Work out how much you have to spend and what are the most important things that you need to buy.
- Work with what’s there already. Have a good look around the place and see what works for you and what doesn’t. If there are ornaments or pictures around that you don’t like, box them up and put them away safely in a cupboard. It’s harder to do this with furniture, but it’s amazing what you can do with a little creativity and a few throws and cushions. The added value of using a throw is that it can both hide and protect the sofa, and any stray curry stains will be caught by the throw and not the sofa.
Beg borrow and steal the rest (not literally of course!)
If you have to buy furniture don’t forget to stick to your budget. If cash is really tight you’ll have to beg, borrow or steal. Ask friends and family if they have anything they are throwing out or could lend you.
Go round the junk shops, thrift/charity shops and car boot sales. Look for bargains, but be realistic about your level of skills for doing them up.
Personalise your space
Let your home reflect your taste and who you are.
- Photographs – photographs let you bring your friends and family into your room. Find some nice frames and experiment with different ways of displaying them. Try grouping them together or hanging them on the wall.
- Plants – plants soften your surroundings and can distract attention from an ugly piece of furniture.
- Cushions cushions can be a bit of a Marmite moment, in so far as women love them and men don’t understand them. But whatever your take on them, they freshen up a room and the added bonus is that you don’t have to spend a fortune.
- Throws and blankets can cover up an ugly or tatty sofa and make a room feel cosy or colourful – whatever effect you want.
- Create your own artwork with collections of photographs in unusual frames. Go to carboot sales to find old photo frames that can be refreshed with a coat of paint or covered with material or paper.
- Rugs can cover up a less than attractive carpet and make a room feel brighter, cosier or more cheerful. You don’t have a to spend a fortune or you can even try making your own rag rug
Make your own curtains
If you can’t live with the curtains that are already there, try making your own. Before you start, carefully take down the orignal curtains and store them in a safe space to put them back when you leave. An added benefit of putting your own curtains up is that you can make a blanket-lined curtain. This is an extra warm layer between the curtain and the lining which acts a way of keeping the warmth in the house and could save you money on your heating bills
If you can’t afford to make curtains or haven’t got the skills, visit your local charity or thrift shop. It is amazing how many shops now carry old curtains that can be adapted to fit.
Make over your bed
Your own duvet covers and bed spreads make a world of a difference to feeling like home – and you can chuck on some bright cushions. Use table lamps to lighten the room, add accent features and a splash of colour
Brighten up plain walls
Paint the walls – if you’re allowed to put a coat of paint on the walls do, but do it properly, don’t just start and get half through and get bored.
Make piece of fabric artwork. Find a piece of fabric that you like and attach it to the walls. If you want to hang it you can make large hems all the way around the edge leaving gaps at each corner and slide strips of wood through the hems. This will give the fabric structure and something to hang it with.
Make your own artwork – use photographs as artwork or buy a canvas and create your own paintings.
Grow some vegetables
If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, you could start to grow your own veg in pots and enjoy your own organic produce. If you don’t have one, you can still grow veg on your windowsill. Try some lettuce and peppers in pots on the kitchen windowsill and have home grown salad throughout the year.
Love your home
Last but not least, learn to love your home. If you’ve invested time and money in making your rented room a home, be proud of it. Sit back and look at what you have achieved and give yourself a pat on the back. Make time to enjoy your new space and invite friends to share in it with you.
And finally a really important part of loving your home is keeping it clean, fresh and a place you want to come home to.