A class of their own: The students who have turned their rooms into stylish retreats

By Kate Burt
Sunday 23 October 2011 04:03

Kit Walter, 22 studying menswear design

I guess my room is quite grown-up for someone my age. I have posters like every other student – but everything's framed. Blu-Tack breaks my heart – it's just so tacky. Go to a charity shop, find an old frame and spray-paint it – beautiful.

Also in frames are my vintage photographs – my favourite is a 1980s arty shot of a girl on a bed in a Stars and Stripes thong. Very Terry Richardson. I found it in a flea market in New York.

People get a bit squeamish about the dead fox hanging on my wall. And I'm a vegetarian so it is a bit oooh. It was unclaimed from the lost property at a club I used to work in.

My records are also part of the décor – some of the artwork is gorgeous. Some are on display in my G-Plan room divider – £80 on eBay. The design is genius but it's not to everyone's taste. People come in and say, "God, that reminds me of my grandma's house." But I love it and it'll last forever – much better value than Ikea.

I find that collections of things can look more ordered – so there's my 10 pairs of glasses in a row, my pile of vintage fabrics, my 1980s belt buckles ... I'm a complete hoarder – imagine what I'll be like when I'm 40.

I'd describe my room as a treasure trove of organised clutter: everything is archived on Excel spreadsheets. Why? Don't know... I'm a Virgo, that's my excuse.


Hayley Simpson, 19, studying journalism

My style is quite girlie – but a bit of a mixture of things I've found along the way. I've got a lovely vintage changing screen with pin-up girls painted on it – great for covering up a big blank wall – but then I've got a pair of deer antlers on the wall. I probably spend more money on my room than the average student would. The antlers – from a little vintage costume store near where I work – were £50. My friends thought I was mad, and my Mum wasn't impressed, but it is important to have my room looking nice.

Besides, lots of things in my room were free or really cheap. The armchair was my granny's – it's called a clam shell and it's quite old. I remember it in her house when I was growing up so it has sentimental value, too.

I'm not only into vintage stuff – Ikea is brilliant, as long as you don't overdo it. My bedside table is from there, and my lamp. Good lighting is so important: even if my room's a mess, change the lighting and suddenly it looks soft and inviting. My friends laugh when I follow them around lighting candles.

There is the classic student collage, yes – full of photos, little notes, postcards, little poems and tickets from things I've been to. They're quite common – it starts small and ends up covering a whole wall. You can't go out and buy an artwork that size but it becomes your own art. Having all those memories around you when you're away from home is comforting – when you're slaving at your desk over an essay it keeps you going.

Pelayo Diaz, 24, studying fashion design and marketing

There is art everywhere in my room: little things that, for some people, would be trash but which I see as meaningful. For example, I have a beautiful big red plastic apple that I keep coins in – I bought it at an airport filled with chocolates. Most people would have chucked it away when the chocolate was finished but it's a lovely thing. Then there's the 3-D anatomical model of a heart I found; it might sound strange, but having a heart on my wall inspires me, somehow. Just like the huge collage I found on the street – cut-outs of beautiful women from magazines, all glued on to a board. I'm gay and so people wonder why I have all these sexy girls on display, but someone spent hours creating it and it's just beautiful. I like my room to be almost like a little exhibition.

Then there's my little Kate Moss shrine: a photo, magazine covers and candles. It's not a real shrine, of course, I'm not a stalker, but I've always loved her "don't give a damn" attitude. It's inspiring.

When the objects around you have meaning, and they make you feel good, I like to think that they can charge you with good energy when you're sleeping.


Ella Parry, 21, studying fashion promotion

My room was a blank canvas when I moved in: bare white walls and laminate flooring. We're not meant to put anything up but living in such a clinical space for two years would have been depressing.

The leopard print wallpaper by the door livens it up and I like having my camera collection on the window sill. One of them used to be my Mum's holiday snaps camera, which I really like. It's nice when people pick them up to play with them.

One thing I detest is when people, usually boys, "decorate" their rooms with beer cans or vodka bottles. The same goes for traffic cones. What are they trying to say about themselves – that they're reprobates? Interesting to go out with? I don't get it. It's just unnecessary student clutter.

When you move away from home to college your bedroom becomes communal as well as personal as it's where you entertain as well as where you sleep. It reveals a great deal about your personality and aspects of your life that, perhaps, ordinarily you wouldn't reveal to someone you'd just met. People have more of an opportunity to judge you when everything's on display – the books you read, the films you watch ...

I'm pretty open but I also don't have much furniture, which is why there's so much of my stuff on display.

It can speed up that process of intimacy. When someone comes over and sees family photos on the walls, naturally they'll probably ask about them. You get to know people much more quickly living this way.

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