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10 ways to decorate your student digs on a budget

15 Sep

It’s that time of year again. You’re ordering your course books, stocking up on baked beans and squeezing boxes into the car before descending upon your beloved student towns and cities. It might be the first time you’re flying the nest or the last time you’ll be making that familiar journey down the motorway. Whatever the case- most student digs could use a little TLC to go from downright shabby to shabby chic.

Here are ten ways to get creative and decorate your student digs on a budget: without losing your all-important deposits.

Photo hangings

Most students stick a collage of their favourite photos on the wall with blue-tack or selotape. But this can get frustrating when photos fall on your face in the middle of the night, or when your landlord charges you at the end of the year for peeling off bits of the wallpaper. Making photo hangings is a cheap and unique way to display photos of your loved ones without the extra fuss.

You will need:


Ribbon (I got mine from Samuel Taylor’s fabric shop in Leeds, 3 for £1)

Paint (I used a Dulux tester pot in Coral Flair from Wilkinson’s, £1.55)

Wooden clothes pegs (Mine were 90p from Wilkinson’s)

Push pins (300 for 75p at Wilko’s)

All-purpose strong glue (I got mine from Leeds University Union- great to have around the house for the rest of the year)


Lay out scrap paper or newspaper on a flat surface and paint the clothes pegs. 

Stand them on their end and leave them to dry for a couple of hours.

Glue the dry clothes pegs to the ribbon, leaving enough space for a photo in between each peg.

Pin the string of pegs to the wall in your bedroom, lounge or kitchen and start pinning your favourite photos, tickets and memorabilia to your gorgeous new wall hangings.


Plus- if you have any clothes pegs left over you can glue them to cork boards or stick them on the fridge with blue tack.

Grab some home bargains at Wilkinson’s

While I was shopping in Wilko’s for the photo hanging materials, I stumbled across some other unmissable bargains. Check out this mantel clock that was on sale for £2, and these photo frames for £1 each:


Jam-jar tea lights

Tie any leftover ribbon from the photo hangings around some used jam-jars, and then place a tea light in each one to make some vintage-style lanterns. You can find multi-packs of tea lights in Primark for £1. Gorgeous!

Load your sofas with throws and cushions

To make your student lounge feel like a cosy den, make sure each housemate brings along a couple of throws and old cushions and load them onto your sofas. It saves you staring at stains on the sofas all year and is a great way to create a homely feel for movie nights throughout the year. Primark have a great ‘British cushions’ range starting at £4.



This is the home touch to make Mary Berry proud. Bunting is a great way to give your home that quintessentially British-vintage-garden-party feel without splashing out on Cath Kidston accessories. You can make your own with fabric from haberdashery shops or buy some from Amazon or Tescos.

Flags and fairy lights

When I arrived at my new student pad I needed to find a way to cover up my bedroom walls which were dotted with chips and blue-tack stains from the previous tenants (They should have made photo hangings…) I mounted some flags from my study abroad year on my wall and hooked some fairy lights over the push pins at the top. I got my flags from various markets in America, but you can find hundreds of flags from your favourite countries on eBay and Amazon, or from Sports Direct if you don’t want to pay for postage.

Pop into Paperchase for quirky finds

Many of my decorations in my new student house are from Paperchase. It’s not usually the cheapest stationary shop, but there are some items worth checking out. I’ve used their vintage London tube map wrapping paper as a poster, and some of their postcards as wall decorations.


Personalised letters

I found these sweet decorative letters In Leeds University Union’s CATS shop. They’re great to stick on walls and fridges, or to put in birthday cards as initials for doors and belongings. If you don’t want to pay 20p for each letter, make them yourself with cardboard or leftover bunting material.

Wine bottle candles

I admired these wine bottle candles while on holiday in Crete last summer. Just place a taper candle of your desired colour and fragrance into the top of a used wine bottle (or coke bottle, spirit bottle or any used glass bottles you’re bound to have lying around the house…) and let the wax drip down the sides for a cool layering effect. Add some more when you fancy another colour! Cheap taper candles are available from Wilko’s.


Bean tin plant-pots

The next time you’re inhaling a hungover helping of beans on toast in the morning, boil the kettle and leave the tin to soak in hot soapy water. When the water has cooled down, scrub the label from the tin and dry. You can use the tin as a plant pot, or if you have any paint left over from the photo hangings, paint the tin your desired colour first.


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