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12 best student bedroom essentials

Transform the barest of rooms at your university halls with our interiors guide

Jess Denham
Monday 10 September 2018 12:15
A few touches can make your room feel like home
A few touches can make your room feel like home

Empty student halls are hardly the most inviting, but a spot of shopping can quickly transform the barest of rooms. We're not going to suggest you blow all your student budget; there are plenty of cheaper options around.

To come up with this eclectic shopping list, we harked back to our own student days and asked Reddit's active student community for their top tips on how to make halls feel like home.

Lights4Fun Copper Geometric Pendant Battery Fairy Lights: £18, Not on the High Street

Mood lighting is a key life lesson. Whether snuggling up in bed for a Netflix binge or looking in the mirror before going out, it’s a soft glow, not a merciless glare, you’ll be after.

Fairy lights are the best way to add some boudoir vibes to your bedroom, but they can be very meh.

These copper geometric pendants, however, are much more now. You get 20 per 2.85m clear string – easily enough to decorate a cork board – and they run on three AA batteries (not included), so hanging them up near a socket isn’t crucial. There’s a timer setting if you want them to come on or turn off while you’re out.

Delivery costs an extra £2.75, bringing the total to just over £20 – a steal for how much of a statement they’ll make.

Buy now

Argos Pieridae Black Tropical Floral Bedding Set – Single: £13.50, Argos

Bed linen is the easiest way to make an impact in your student room – the bed often takes up most of the space, so you'll want to make it count.

Jungle is very in, we hear, and this tropical green and pink print bed linen set will be a sunny autumn/winter antidote. It’s reversible, with a black base on one side and a white base on the other, so you can flip it over if you fancy a change.

For just £13.50 in the sale, you get the 2-in-1 duvet cover and pillowcase; the sheet you’ll need to buy separately. The duvet cover is fastened by poppers at the end – our favourite as they’re so much quicker to undo than buttons. This soft, polycotton set will fare just fine in the washing machine and can go in the tumble dryer too.

The picture is misleading – it's a single, not a double set that’s up for grabs.

Buy now

Hortology Golden Pothos Plant: £14.99, Hortology

Bringing the outside in is a classic way of making a soulless space come alive, so adopting a plant is a must.

Glossy Goldon Pothos, more commonly known as Devil's Ivy, is really easy to maintain. Its marbled heart-shaped leaves look fabulous trailing off a bookshelf or livening up a gloomy corner and help purify the air, too. This plant doesn't need much watering – once a fortnight is fine – so you needn't worry too much about killing it.

It comes with a white plastic clip if you want to hang it up, but we removed this and popped it into a basic 18cm pot, a variety of which can also be found on Hortology's user-friendly website.

Delivery costs just under a fiver.

Buy now

TK Maxx French Bulldog Doorstop: £6.99, TK Maxx​

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There’s not all that much to say about this chap – his adorable cuddle me face, pink ears and beaded eyes speak for themselves. What’s not to love?

He’s a budget buy, so don’t expect much from the fabric quality or manufacturing, but if ever there were a doorstop to catch our attention while prowling the corridors in that always nerve-wracking first hunt for friends, this would be it. Propping your door open while you unpack lets people know you’re keen for a chat and this mini French bulldog is heavy enough to hold even fire doors ajar.

Just like real dogs, he’ll be a great ice-breaker – your new flatmates will be cooing over him in no time.

Buy now

Wilko Llama Cushion: £8, Wilko

After trawling the shops for cushions, this jolly llama remains our firm favourite. The pink tassels at each corner add a fun pop of bright colour and it’s just the right side of gap-yah tragedy if, by chance, you did actually encounter llamas in Perah and are gagging to tell everyone about it.

Plus, llamas are apparently the new unicorns, so you’ll be ahead of the curve.

The pure cotton cover can be removed and washed at 30 degrees and it comes filled with bouncy polyester. It measures 43cm x 43cm – the standard scatter cushion size – and has a chic muted green reverse. Best of all, it’s only £8.

Buy now

Elements Jaxson Reversible Navy Duvet Cover and Pillowcase Set: £18, Dunelm

If the big pink flowers of our aforementioned bed set weren’t quite what you were looking for, this one’s more neutral without being devoid of personality.

It’s reversible again, with a detailed navy, white and mustard geometric print on one side and a bigger navy and white pattern on the other. The single set includes the duvet cover and a pillowcase, but there are double, king and super king sizes that come with two pillowcases available too, should your halls be more luxurious than ours were. The polycotton material is soft enough to offer you a good night’s sleep and can be machine-washed and tumble-dried

The only downside is that the duvet fastens with buttons, which are a bit more fiddly than poppers. We reckon the understated style this gives off, especially when folded down like in the picture, is worth that bit of extra effort. It’s yours for a very fair price and is sophisticated enough to last you past your university years.

Buy now

Gallery Stellan Fur Throw – Grey: £19.99, Robert Dyas

Our bargain radar is always switched on at IndyBest, so we were thrilled when it led us to this sumptuously soft faux fur throw that’s half price in the Robert Dyas sale.

Its textured furry side is a delight to snuggle up in and its fleece reverse ramps up the cosy factor, keeping you warm all through winter without slipping off your duvet. It’s a good size, too – certainly big enough to cover you during one of those pre-night out naps.

This throw also comes in cream and taupe, but we find grey the best colour for hiding inevitable tea spills and acting as the perfect base for jazzy scatter cushions.

Don’t panic if you do need to wash it as it’s fine to bung in the washing machine on a gentle heat setting. Expect to pay an extra £3.95 for delivery.

Buy now

Hendon White 24 Multi Aperture Frame: £14.99, The Range

To help ease any homesickness, bring some photos of your favourites that’ll make you laugh.

This multi-aperture plastic frame fits 24 standard-size pictures so you can show them all off on your wall at once. Hammering nails into the wall won’t be allowed, but you can get around that problem by investing in some Command damage-free hanging strips, just £2.95 from Amazon.

We’ve tried and tested these on many a forbidden wall and never had an issue – they peel off cleanly when you move out leaving no sticky marks or chipped paint and will easily secure this lightweight frame.

Buy now

House by John Lewis Tony Task Lamp: £30, John Lewis

Pulling an all-nighter to make that coursework deadline requires as much light as possible to keep you awake.

This compact desk lamp from John Lewis comes in sleek silver or shiny copper. Its arm and head are adjustable for casting light where you need it and it’s light enough to move around the room, should you also be in need of a bedside lamp.

It has a simple on/off switch on the cable (no fancy dimmer with this one, sorry), which plugs into the mains (you may want to bring an extension lead in case sockets are lacking).

Note that the bulb’s not included – the 18W SES Eco Halogen is recommended and can be bought separately.

Buy now

H&M Patterned Cotton Rug: £29.99, H&M

Carpet in halls is often unsightly, even stained, and a hard floor can feel cold, so you might want to cover it up.

This rug caught our attention not only for the jazzy deep purple and pink Indian-style pattern but because unlike most on the market, it’s long and thin. Student bedrooms tend to be narrow, with little space between your bed and wardrobe, so a runner may fit best. It’s made of pure cotton and can be thrown in the wash if a friend drags mud in, or worse (we’ll spare you the story of what happened to our favourite rug at uni).

The only downside is the underside is white, so simply flipping it over to hide a spill won’t be wise. If you find you have a bigger space to fill, it also comes in a bigger size, but be prepared to pay £30 more.

Buy now

Wax Lyrical Egyptian Cotton Reed Diffuser: £14.99, Wax Lyrical

If you’re keen to keep your room from smelling like pizza but aren’t allowed candles, a reed diffuser is an inexpensive way to freshen things up.

There are a lot to choose from but cotton is a timeless scent – it’s the comforting smell of fresh laundry, and totally unisex. Cheaper diffusers can smell chemically but Wax Lyrical’s will throw a gently soothing, slightly citrusy scent around the room without being too overpowering, and last for months.

Simply unscrew the lid, pop the reeds in and flip them around when they dry up and the scent starts to fade. Once it all evaporates, you can keep the elegant bottle and pick up a 250ml refill for £12.99.

Buy now

Kitchen Craft BarCraft Rainbow Shot Glasses: £9.99, John Lewis

That sweet French Bulldog doorstop further up our list is one way to lure in friends; the other is shots. We brought some shot glasses and a few bottles of inoffensive Sourz with us on our first day and found it a great way to kick-start Freshers’ Week – our room was quickly the place to be.

These iridescent gems are fun, modern and scream party. They’re glass, so try not to break them, not least because they’ll bring a touch of contemporary class to your bookshelf when not in use.

Best not leave them in the communal kitchen if you want to keep them safe…

Buy now

The Verdict: Best uni bedroom essentials

The geometric copper fairy lights will give your room aesthetic edge and warm things up, but we also love the Argos and the Dunelm bed linen – they are great value and are guaranteed to cheer up your drab space sharpish.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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