The student life: how to make that space your own

Its so exciting, a proper life milestone event you’ve been waiting for, having your first space to yourself away from home.
It surely has been a different couple of years for University students, navigating the pandemic with remote learning, but the future is bright and this autumn spells back to on compass learning with lots of Universities open up again.

While of course an exciting time, and the culmination of a lot of hard work, investment and sacrifice on the student’s behalf there is no doubt it has the potential to be daunting, a real pivotal moment. A welcoming environment will be of paramount importance, the positive effect on wellbeing not to be underestimated. A safe space to thrive. A bedroom but so much more. It doubles up as study area, sometimes quiet space to dine, a space to unwind, often a space to entertain friends. If you’ve chosen University halls often that space is in a very confined 4 walled space.

As you know we are big believers here at Signaturize that your surroundings can have a huge effect on your overall health and your contentment levels. We believe it is one part of the pursuit for holistic wellbeing. Perhaps a few well-chosen decor delights or cosy comforts from home could start you off strong and settled. Starting strong is often the key to success.

Let’s not beat around the bush student accommodation generally can be very much hit or miss, it can range from the most basic of boxy rooms with a bed, desk and storage to something much more sophisticated and elaborate. Back in the day my first room in halls was the former rather than the latter, it had all 3 of the aforementioned pieces of furniture built into one, while ingenuitively multipurpose I won’t lie it was a little claustrophobic. Even my second year in a lovely newly refurbished townhouse, shared with friends I picked the short straw with the smallest room at the back of the house. The truth is whatever hand you are dealt in terms of size and quality of accommodation as soon as you make a room that bit more personal you will benefit from that effort you have made to make it feel like your own. It is a small investment but it will without a doubt give back.

It stands to reason that in shared accommodation the bedroom will be the one place that is truly your own, so with that in mind focus on sanctity and rest here. Make the bed as cosy and comfortable as you can. Don’t skimp on throws, cushions, extra pillows. For me the bed doubled as my textbook reading sanctum, my late night girlfriend catch up zone and my laptop dvd marathon nights (there was no ability to stream Netflix back in my day!). The best bit about this, upgrading the cosiness of your bed space, is you can pick up the loveliest bed extras and accessories for such unbelievable value, so its a no brainer that this would be a super, easy investment, choosing them in your favourite colour scheme will quickly make you feel the space is truly yours to live in.

Another easy addition is to treat yourself to new bed linen. I recently invested in some new bed sheets and duvet cover from the Dusk sale I am beyond impressed, lovely selection, great value, super quick delivery and the quality seemed just great. We have no student aged kiddos just yet but it even felt like a mummy treat to me in the midst of the back to school chaos and subconsciously it probably was a physical comfort in the midst of the unsettling effect that new beginnings bring at this time of year. Its a time of year I truly love and relish but there is no denying it is super busy if you have a family and the changes sure do zap a lot of my energy. As I sip my second strong coffee typing away in work this morning…Getting a good night sleep is key to success no matter what stage of life you are in, not least at Uni. If choosing your bed or mattress isn’t an option then do think about getting yourself a mattress protector, it can refresh a bed and with even options available in memory foam they can make a real difference to your comfort levels.

The next question you can ask about personalising your new space is, is there anything I can do to improve the walls, can I add some artwork? Of course when renting or in short term contracts it can be tricky if the landlord has stipulated not to damage walls but one tip the best interior stylists will give you is to create impact by propping artwork against the wall, or on top of items of furniture. Super easy trick and can look so homely and bohemian. Wire or clipped pin boards are also fun, and a lovely way to display photos and momentos, seeking to break up a clinical space with colour and personality.

Have a think about lighting. While you won’t want to be, or likely wouldn’t be allowed to play about with fixed lighting features in a short term space picking out a new shade can transform a dull pendant light into a fun feature. Also investing into a feature table or floor lamp can add that extra wow factor. Again there are some amazing value lamps on the market, which would reflect real intentionality and design flare for your new space. What do you think of these? As you well know adding in lamps can create a much calmer, more restful mood than the harshness of an overhead bulb lighting the whole room. With so many fairy and festoon style lights on the market too there are endless possibilities to create some lighting magic.

I almost forgot about the main reason that you are there, as a student, to study. Had you forgotten as well? Easily done. So do you have a comfortable space to work? All the best interior advice for studying or WFH will say if you can place a desk near a window you are on to a winner. The reason being all that natural light and fresh air you can soak up, is good for everything; for your mood, for your concentration, for your eyes…or if you are like my dear old friend in a global pandemic working a stressful city job and trying to keep up with the demands of that remotely you will make friends with a stray cat, by you looking out your window. We used to get daily updates from her, the cat eventually would jump through the window for playdates, a lovely new buddy to keep her sane in the midst of work stress. The daily anecdotes got lots of us through our own stresses via the communal messaging groups when navigating lockdown life. So yes a view out to nature and the world around can be an added bonus if you’re feeling lonely. To make that happen think of comfy chairs, extension cables and storage to hide the mess…Its not rocket science just a little diligent prep and you’ll be laughing all the way to the end of term exam hall. Well maybe not but you will have a comfortable space to while the hours until you get to that point. If you are anything like me the real exciting bit is making that important choice, aesthetically pleasing stationery. So tidy space, tidy mind or whatever that phrase is. Don’t do what I do and literally spend hours tidying so you don’t have any time left to study, but big boxes like this are useful to throw everything into at the end of the day.

You’ve heard the experts eulogise about a good chair for studying at the right working height. It does make such a difference. I bought this one from Amazon a few months ago, I love it, it is super comfy and it makes me smile that is isn’t the usual black, shiny leather swivel version that is usually the only option for office furniture. Its feminine and functional. It really ticks the box for me. Amazon have some amazing office furniture options, I got this corner desk. It is super value and a functional large working space, for the corner of my office that gets the brightest light. You can find me here getting my brightest Signaturize ideas on a frequent basis. I won’t lie the flat pack challenged me slightly, as it always does, but I got there in the end.

So with all my suggestions if we’ve haven’t already blown the non-existent student budget an absolute final thought to leave you with is what about investing in a houseplant to complete that new room look. Yes I know what you are thinking, I will be doing well to keep myself fed and watered and subject to a little daytime light sporadically never mind an inanimate object. Just bear with me, consider it a new living being to brighten up your space. That now overused phrase a way to bring the outdoors in, and all that. They also just look pretty and can be inexpensive. Start with a succulent or two, they literally need zero TLC and are a genuinely visual delight. Here are some cute plant pots to get you inspired.

All that is left to say is have fun, make memories and pinch yourself daily that life doesn’t get much more carefree than this. As cliched as it sounds believe me it is 100% true…although I haven’t experienced retirement yet…