Moving to a new city can be difficult, but doing it on a student budget can prove even more straining. While getting out and exploring a new city to become familiar with its sights and sounds is a great way to get settled in, there’s another important aspect that shouldn’t be ignored: curating your new living space to your taste. With Refreshers now well underway, this seems the perfect time to have a bit of a spring-clean and redecoration to make your student space feel not just like a house, but a home. 

As an international student, making my student house feel like a home is incredibly important as there is not an option to go back to my family’s home on the weekends to retreat from student life. However, it isn’t just international students who benefit from thoughtfully decorating their student homes; creating a welcoming retreat at home is valuable to everyone. 

In many rented flats and houses, students have very limited control over their environment. The walls can’t be repainted, kitchen and living spaces need to be negotiated with friends or flatmates and landlords can sometimes be uncooperative. Just like clothing and accessories are an outward expression of our identities, home spaces can also be an extension of our personal style. Filling your space with things that are reflective of your hobbies and passions is a great start. Here we’ve compiled a short-list of tips to give your space a fresh start for the new academic term. 



As an avid reader, I find that books tend to accumulate effortlessly in stacks around my room. While books are so much more than just an accessory, they also work brilliantly to add colour and substance to spruce up an otherwise empty space. Stacking them also works to add height to lamps or plants around the room. Waterstones offer student and rewards cards, but the Oxfam on West Street and in Broomhill are reliable and sustainable options to pick up that paperback you can’t help but dream about.

Soft Lighting

Lighting in student houses isn’t always fantastic. To remedy this try picking up one or two cheap lamps and placing them around the space to create sanctuaries of warm glowing light. This should help to balance out harsh overhead lights. Smaller lamps or fairy lights are great for creating a more mellow, relaxing space. 

Second-hand Finds 

Buying secondhand is almost always cheaper as well as environmentally friendly. Charity shops are a great place to pick up art prints, records, plant pots, crockery, and plenty of books to fill up your space to make it more your own. Paying special attention to things like colour schemes will allow a greater degree of coordination across the room. 



A little bit of green can bring new energy to any space. Long spindly and leafy plants are a good choice because their vines give bedside tables or bookshelves an extra punch of colour and a touch of life. Having plants in your bedroom is also a good anchor to the natural world. Plus, who doesn’t like thinking they have a green thumb? The Botanical Garden and Students’ Union both have plant sales at various times throughout the year, but if you’re in need of a botany-fix now, the Gravel Pit on Abbeydale Road and Plantology or MoonKo on Division Street are great for the amateur indoor gardener. 

Postcards and Paper Bits 

Collecting little paper bits from your travels can be a fantastic way to remember all the places that you have visited and the good times you had there. University halls and houses often have bulletin boards available and this is where those paper bits have the potential to come into their own. Pinning up photos is a classic for a reason, but mixing textures and colours is a good option to give the space more variety and let each piece stand out.


A Piece of Home (Away From Uni) 

Moving to a new space can be disorientating at first. It can be easy to feel too separated from your family and home away from university life. Picking a few key things from your old bedroom to integrate into your university space is a great way to pay homage to the place ‘back home’ without treating it like a childhood bedroom. 

Student houses are always going to be temporary, it’s in their nature. Many students will never stay in the same space for more than a year while studying, but making these spaces as welcoming as possible can be exactly the stress relief you need from academic or society work. With the start of a new term underway, what better way to refresh your routine than by refreshing your space. After all, there is no place like home.



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