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London Build

30 Aug 2019

Top tips on how to brighten up any student flat

Top tips on how to brighten up any student flat

When Riya Agarwal moved to the UK from India to study for a master's in art and interior design at the Royal College of Art, she struggled with homesickness and found London 'gloomy and dingy'.

As she developed her interior design skills on her course, Agarwal found the best remedy was to decorate her bedroom. 'We're taught as interior designers to address the mindset and psychology of people who inhabit the space,' she says.

She filled her room with calming shades of white and off-white, with a couple of bright colours to create focal points. 'Light colours bring lightness to your mind,' she explains.

If you're headed to university this September, that's probably an effect you'd like your room to have. Agarwal says the best advice is to think about what you want your space to achieve: she wanted to foster a sense of belonging in a new country, but also create a cosy space where she could relax from her intense workload.

She filled her room with plants to make her 'feel like somebody is living with you', and stuck up photos of friends, family and her boyfriend, as well as images of the Hindu god she worships. 'There are times in student life when you feel a little low, and these memories are very important for you to cheer up.'

Nicola Shaw, homeware buyer at Urban Outfitters, says wall hangings and tapestries can make your room feel cosy.

Katie Brough, who looks after homeware at Amazon, recommends looking at Instagram for inspiration on how to create a gallery wall filled with comforting photos as well as illustrations or posters. 'Picture-frame wall displays are not only on trend, but will be a nice memory of home,' she says.

Mismatched sizes and frames in different colours and materials are popular, as is propping differently sized framed images on a shelf ' which means you can switch up what's on display more easily. Adding shelves to walls can also increase storage but not all university accommodation will allow this, so be sure to ask first.

Nicola Shaw, homeware buyer at Urban Outfitters, recommends seeking out textiles to make your room feel homely. 'Wall hangings, tapestries, duvet sets and rugs are a great way to make a small room feel cosy as well as offering an alternative to changing a carpet or repainting a wall,' she says. 'A quirky bathmat and small bathroom accessories can also be a great way to put your stamp on a room without having to spend too much.'

How students decorate their rooms is often based on the way they want to use them. Agarwal focused on making her bedroom cosy because she does her university work in the library, but students who prefer working at home might want to make their desk space as comfortable and creatively stimulating as they can.

One inexpensive way to help you concentrate on your studies is to move your bed as far from your desk as possible, says Friederike Weid, a recent university graduate who runs a popular interiors Instagram account.

Weid recalls that she filled her room with plants and succulents as a student. 'They keep the air fresh and they make the room more vibrant,' she says. She also recommends natural candles, room fragrances and different lighting around the room to create different atmospheres.

But as Brough points out, these aren't always allowed in halls of residence. '[You can] create ambience with the help of a diffuser,' she suggests. 'These are a great alternative.'

To keep you going through long hours of revision, Weid recommends creating a mood board with inspiring phrases, pictures and dried flowers. Uni work can also be turned into a decorative feature with matching coloured storage, she adds.

You can keep things cheap and 'try to give your room personality' by trawling thrift stores, flea markets, and even having a root around the bulky waste that neighbours leave out. 'Or maybe have a look at the attic or basement at your parents,' she says. 'For sure they'll have a lot of cool things they don't need anymore.'

Source: The Guardian

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