Home sweet home, away from home

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College accommodation – whether you’ve hit the jackpot, or feel at the bottom of the pile as far as room allocation goes, there’s always something you can do to make yourself more comfortable. On a student budget, it can seem like a big ask, especially knowing the limits set by your college concerning fire risks and other dangers. Although most are relatively relaxed about changes you might be planning, it is best to be on the safe side. But don’t worry, there’s usually a way around it.

If you’re looking to fill up your walls, Last Chance Bookshop and the £3 Bookshop have sheets of gift wrap which make great posters, for £1.50 each. Featuring designs from famous book illustrations to vintage film posters and gents on penny farthings, it’s well worth a look before splashing out at Blackwell’s. On the other hand, if you prefer the big, glossy cinema-poster look you can always try asking at your local cinema whether they have any posters they’ve just taken down (most of which they’ll easily give away for a few pounds). But do make sure you’re allowed to Blutak – otherwise you might need to get creative. If you have hanging nails, attaching posters or other wall art to a bulldog clip provides a loop which can be hung on the nail – without even damaging the paper. Otherwise, fixed in a paper clip and attached with a drawing pin works just as well with poster strips.

Another way to brighten up your room is by something colourful you’ve already got – the contents of your wardrobe. Hangers or rails with all your favourite things on show are such an easy way to inject some personality into your room, as well as making a scarf an easy grab on a chilly day. But obviously the best thing about this idea is that it is free; what’s more, it is an accumulation of your tastes over the past few years.

Of course a key item you will need this winter is something to keep you warm. If you are paying for your utilities, it will work out that buying a warm blanket is a lot more cost-effective than those escalating bills come December. Wool and fleece seem to work the best and can be picked up for a reasonable price in markets, supermarkets and, of course, online. When out of use, blankets become a great throw for chairs or benches – making that standard-issue furniture a little more individual. The key to making these last is by storing them well (if you can’t take them home) – make sure they’re nice and dry before stuffing them into thick bin bags or vacuum-sealed compressor bags to keep damp out.

Now what about those empty shelves and windowsills? The key is to choose decorative items that can be used functionally – bowls and pots which double up as containers for various collections of pens, keys, beauty products and snacks. Don’t expect to find everything in one trip; it might take a while to find what you’re looking for, especially if you don’t specifically know what that is. The beauty of this idea is that your items can be re-donated at the end of the term if you don’t have the storage space and at the same time you’re supporting good causes both local and international. What’s more is you won’t end up with the same things as everyone else. Don’t be afraid of choosing items you think might clash, because it’s the eclectic (and sometimes hectic) nature of décor that helps to make a room feel personalised.

Besides, charity shops have started to realise the value of some of the stock they hold – so don’t go expecting to buy a set of Royal Dalton at a few pounds apiece. And if you have a lot of blank wall space, the same principle applies to artwork, which tends to look more ‘permanent’ since they are usually sold in their frames.

The most important thing, however, is to be honest about who you are! Don’t think your room needs to be typically ‘Oxford’ (whatever that means); you need to exhibit your personality in your room to really take ownership of it. That way, it’s much easier to settle in and feel at home, away from home.

Happy decorating!

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