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Home Style & Beauty I’m an Interior Designer: here’s how to make the most of your student accommodation​

I’m an Interior Designer: here’s how to make the most of your student accommodation​

by Jessica Weisman-Pitts
iStock 962089004

I’m an Interior Designer: here’s how to make the most of your student accommodation​

While moving into your student accommodation is an exciting adventure, your room might feel underwhelming and small at first. However, with the right design hacks, even the smallest spaces can transform into cosy, stylish havens.

Nicole Sage, Interior designer at Sleek-chic Interiors, said: “Student rooms can often be a cookie cutter of one another, so bringing some personality and colour into your individual space is one of the best ways to start making it feel like your own.”

Aaron Kirkwood, Head of Sales and Marketing at Abodus Student Living, a leading expert in providing homely student lets in Leeds, Newcastle, and all over the UK, added: “Having a cosy and welcoming living environment plays a big part in learning. By employing some simple but effective design techniques, current and future students can turn their accommodation into a home and truly enjoy the student experience.”

Cosy flooring

“Firstly, start with the floor. Typically, student accommodation flooring will be hard-wearing carpet floor tiles that can feel cold. Layer it with a large area rug, and pick something with a pop of colour that you love and will use in other areas. That way, it sets the tone in the space and also grounds your furniture whilst being soft and cosy underfoot,” said Nicole Sage.

Aaron Kirkwood added: “The flooring in your room should not only add a touch of warmth and aesthetics but also enhance the overall comfort of the space. Whether opting for plush rugs or easy-to-clean materials, finding the perfect balance can make a significant difference in creating a welcoming atmosphere within the confines of your room.”

The bed – a focal feature in your bedroom

“Arguably, the bed becomes the focal feature in a small space, so make it one that feels hotel-like and on-trend. The key to dressing a bed is layering. Think colour, texture and material. In student accommodation, you typically won’t be able to paint your walls, so incorporating warm colours into your bed set-up is a great alternative,” advises Nicole Sage.

When arranging the bed, Sage recommends fusing tonal colours for a sumptuous feel and always dressing the quilt. Her idea for the perfect bed set-up is “having a large bedspread – this brings added warmth and disguises creased bed sheets (which no one has time to iron).

“If you have a double bed, add two cushions with a bolster cushion in front or three rectangular cushions, two in the back and one in front. This creates symmetry and allows you to mix and match colours and patterns. This buildable warmth is easy to achieve and doesn’t have to cost a fortune.”

Ambient lighting

The key to creating a welcoming atmosphere for both relaxing and studying is lighting.

Aaron Kirkwood said: “Lighting largely impacts our wellbeing and mood, which is a priority to students. Invite as much natural light as possible during the day and supplement insufficient daylight with one that has a cooler white colour appearance until early afternoon. During the evening, set it to a warmer white colour appearance and gradually reduce it to achieve a minimum before bedtime.”

For creating a warm and inviting atmosphere, Nicole Sage suggests adding “a beautiful desk lamp to your desk area, which will make working into the evening easier. A lamp in any room is always a perfect way to set a cosy ambience without having the main light on. Candles generally aren’t allowed in student accommodation, so opt for dotting fairy lights along a mirror or desk for added lighting in the evening. It’s the best way to set a cosy mood.”

Storage space

Kate Conrad, senior interior designer at luxury homeware retailer Madison & Mayfair, said: “With the right furniture and storage solutions, your university room can become a functional space for relaxing and studying without feeling cramped or messy.”

She swears by storage solutions and many variations available: “Whether you opt for under-bed storage or over-door hooks, you’ll enjoy any extra space to keep the mess at bay.”

Nicole Sage is a fan of “stylish storage options like rattan baskets that are perfect for storing shoes, books and everything in between.”

The furniture in your room also impacts how you perceive your space.

Kate Conrad said: “Ensure your wardrobe is utilised as efficiently as possible by inserting hanging organisers, meaning you can still contain your clothes neatly in your wardrobe without feeling like they’re spilling out.

You can also find really stylish furniture that doubles as storage, like ottomans in bright colours, providing extra seating when your friends come over as well as additional space to store bedding and throws.”

With stationary organisers, like desk shelving and storage, you can avoid unnecessary clutter. This leaves more space for decorating with ornaments and photographs, adding those all-important homely touches to help you settle in.”

Scents and decorations

Alongside the furniture and main colour combinations, it’s the little things that really tie the whole space together.

Nicole Sage said: “Personal items and decorative accessories are the perfect finishing touches to make student accommodation feel personable. Add photo frames, artwork you love, vases with fresh flowers and anything sentimental that helps make your space feel homely.”

Different aromas can also contribute to creating a tranquil space when you need to relax and invigorate you when you want to focus. Rose and lavender have calming effects, while lemon and peppermint will boost your concentration.

“Scent is a very nostalgic thing and can take us back to any familiar setting. If you have a favourite scent from home, capture that with a reed diffuser and add it to a shelf or desk. It’s a simple addition but will instantly make the space feel like yours,” added Sage.


With the right design choices, your student accommodation can be transformed into a comfortable and stylish living space. By focusing on elements like flooring, the bed, ambient lighting, storage space, and personalised decorations, you can make the most of your small quarters and create an environment that supports both study and relaxation. Let’s turn your student accommodation into a space that truly reflects your style and enhances your overall university experience.