For most postgrad students, home will be a temporary rented room: perhaps in university accommodation, or perhaps in the private sector. These spaces can feel pretty impersonal and box-like, complete with an institutional whiff there to remind you of the hundreds who've gone before. To make matters worse, there are often strict regulations about what you can and can't do to the space. With a bit of ingenuity though, you can make your quarters more homely and make settling in that bit easier with these budget-friendly tips.
Fairy Lights Something of a cliche, perhaps, but twinkling fairy lights can transform an otherwise drab space. Choose clear rather than coloured lights to avoid that camp Christmassy look, and you could even hang the lights behind a thin curtain or sheet to diffuse their light. Wrap them around a headboard or string them along a shelf or fireplace to brighten a bedroom or living room.
A Map or Collage This one's interactive. If you have a houseshare with friends, try putting up a collage in the front room. It can have a theme, or it can just be pictures of events you've attended together. As the year goes on, you add to it, and it becomes a scrapbook of friendship, right there on your wall. Alternatively, if you find yourself looking at a large blank wall and you lack friendly housemates to help you fill it, get a large world map. You can mark off the places you've visited and it'll become a talking point.
Wall Decals These are essentially big vinyl stickers which adhere to walls- but they peel off without leaving a trace. Pretty clever! They're best for communal spaces like living rooms, but could also work if you've a large expanse of bedroom wall. Try eBay or Amazon for everything from flowers to Banksy-inspired art.
Let Your Books Be a Feature Depending on your course, it's pretty likely you'll have a lot of books hanging around, possibly more than you'll ever read (hands up all arts students). Make them into a decorative feature: organise them by colour on the shelves, or even pile them up next to the bed and put a lamp on top to create an instant (and free) bedside table.
Potted Plants It seems a simple tip, but having greenery around really makes a difference. Plants can be obtained from Freecycle for nothing, or from markets for pennies. You could try re-potting little ones into second-hand mugs or teapots with broken lids, or lining them all up on your windowsill, creating a green oasis. Grow your own camomile by ripping open a teabag and putting the contents on some compost and watering. You could even plant seeds in pretty tins (golden syrup cans work a treat).
The key to decorating your postgrad home is in the details. A few small things like framed photos of family and friends, or a piece of furniture from home, can make all the difference. None of the things listed above cost the earth, but they will improve your environment, thereby contributing to your overall wellbeing.
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