Sprucing up your uni house without losing your deposit

(Image courtesy of Unsplash)

Most landlords are simply trying to cram as many of us into a house as possible, meaning we often end up with draughty windows, questionable carpets, and sofas that were almost certainly fished out of a skip.

In previous years, being out and about a lot meant these details may not have bothered us. Stained walls and funny smells went unnoticed when you had no curfew and no limits on pubs and clubs. But now that the days are getting shorter and we’re all spending more time indoors, making shared living spaces a little comfier can make the world of difference. Here are some easy, affordable tips for making your house feel more like home, without causing any damage!

Get creative with lighting to create a warmer, friendlier atmosphere:

There’s a reason why the humble fairy light is such a staple of the average student house. Dim or yellow lighting can make hallways and living rooms look dark and dingy; adding a string of fairy lights can give a space some character and simultaneously brighten things up. We love draping lights around door frames and bannisters or use Command Picture Hanging Strips (£3.00 from Wilko) to hang lights from the wall to avoid using nails and causing damage.

For ordinary battery-operated string lights starting at £1.50, Primark is the place to go. You can even grab yourself some trendy LED strip lights for £2, which look great in the corners of rooms and around furniture.

For more festive (and even cheaper) options, head to Poundland where you’ll find cute shaped lights in their Christmas section and Pep&Co range, all for just £1. Flying Tiger has options with more personality, with quirky and colourful string lights or even a customisable light box, albeit at a slightly higher price.

(Images courtesy of Evie Goodwin)

Get snap happy!

Nothing makes a house feel more like home than pictures up on the walls. If you’re lucky enough to have close relationships with your housemates, print out pictures of your best nights out and memories together and stick them up with White Tac to avoid staining. FreePrints is an app which allows you to print out photos from your phone for just the price of delivery. This usually means spending £3-4 on up to 40 pictures a month.

To avoid having to hang picture frames, use fairy lights with photo pegs to clip your printed pictures and create a fun display for your living room (Amazon Peg Fairy Lights, £6.99).

(Image courtesy of Amazon)

Rugs and throws can hide a multitude of sins

Ripping up your shabby carpet is not an option if you want your deposit back, and nobody has the time to deep clean grubby sofa covers. In this situation a cheap rug and a cosy throw are your best friends. Use flat woven rugs to hide any stains or scratches and create a homely, eccentric atmosphere. Amazon has great options for under £5, such as the recycled floor mat pictured below (JVL Multi Colour Recycled Floor Mat, £4.99), or to make things even cosier try IKEA for faux fur mini rugs (IKEA, TOFTLUND White Rug, £7)

(Image courtesy of Amazon)

To spruce up your soft furnishings, pick up some cheap throws and wrap them around sofa cushions to disguise odd marks or ugly patterns. Simple fleece blankets in plain grey, navy or black can be found for just £1 in Poundland’s Pep&Co range. For a prettier and more luxurious option, pick up an Ultra Soft throw from Wilko and add a couple of fluffy Primark cushions for only £3.

(Image courtesy of Evie Goodwin)

Ask and you shall (maybe) receive

If you’re really desperate to cover up some damage, replace some broken furniture or paint over marked walls, ask your landlord if you can go for it! This is more likely to work if you have a private landlord and are not renting through a lettings agency, as you’re more likely to know them personally and have an idea of how lenient they will be.

There is no harm in asking and they may even be happy for you to take a job off of their hands. We all deserve to feel happy and comfortable in student housing, so give yourself the freedom to make your house feel more like it’s your own. If you try out any of these ideas, get in touch on Instagram - @inquirekent. Happy decorating!

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First published in 1965, InQuire is the University of Kent student newspaper.

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