How to bring the best of your old home to your new home

Lily Rosengard 25 August 2014

People say university is good for all sorts of reasons. Yes it will help stretch your minds, yes you will make best friends for life, and yes you will (hopefully) become more independent. All are true, as is the fact that you may also develop a penchant for home-decorating, or rather, ‘6 feet x 15 feet box’ decorating.  Either way, the little space you walk into in October with a look of horror on your face will become your home for the next year and you’re going to have to make the most of it.

So remember, empty vodka bottles imitating trophies on your shelf do not count as legitimate decorations and do not count as a sort of unplanned minimalist look. University is a time for many exciting changes and experiences in your life, and after traumatic nights bopping away to Lion King in Cindies, you’re going to want a nice cosy base to return back to at the end of the day.  The same is true as you endure freshers' week, returning to your room weighed down with endless flyers, promotional pens, and free dominoes vouchers.

If that advice isn't enough, add these items to your IKEA shopping list to make your room that little bit more homely:

A rug.

Image credit: Peoniagialla

A little rug goes a long way for 3 simple reasons. Firstly, position it by the side of your bed and it's a nice soft treat for your feet to meet each morning as you roll out of bed. Secondly, it works a treat to cover up a dirty carpet. And thirdly, if you get a bright patterned one, it can help liven up your room as well as making it more personal.

Fairy lights.

Slightly too many perhaps?  Image credit: Jacinta Iluch Valero

You may not actually plan on having fairy lights in my room at all, but after arriving in your room on the first day, you may change your mind about these little bubbles of joy, most commonly seen in the bedrooms of five-year old girls. A tip to keep them up is to place something heavy, such as a tin of soup, or a bottle of wine on each corner of the shelf.

Your own lights.

Believe it or not, Cambridge isn't sunny all year round.  Image credit: David Kleinschmidt.

Believe it or not, Cambridge is not sunny all year round. In fact, it may only be sunny for a few days at a push, so prepare for gloomy dark weather for the best part of Michaelmas. Many rooms however, have pretty bad lighting so if you’re planning on studying a lot in your room, you may want to bring some lights from home. Why not bring a stand-up light from home to light up the whole room, ideally one with a moveable arm so that you can position it towards my desk.

A duvet cover.

The more colourful the better.  Image credit: Laurie Wisbrun

Many colleges will offer you college sheets and a laundry service. This is great as it reduces the hassle of washing your sheets, but realistically, you'll be doing laundry a lot anyway so what's a duvet to add to the pile? It'll remind you of home (in a good way!) and if you choose a bright colour, help cheer up the room too.

A double bed duvet.

The double duvet cover battle.  Image credit: TootDood.

You will almost definitely have a single bed, unless, you are one of the chosen few who end up landing a double at Downing. Despite this, you're strongly recommended to bring up a double duvet to wrap yourself up in like a little snug burrito in when it gets cold. Again, not a necessity, but a just a simple tip to keep you cosy at night.


I did have friends.  Once.  Image credit: Mathuzala

Don’t bring so many pictures that could potentially make your new friends feel uncomfortable but just enough so that whilst meeting endless new people in the first few weeks, you can always come home to some familiar faces.

A cover for your desk chair.

Have I mentioned my Gap Yah? Image credit: Dave Canon

Welcome to Cambridge, a place that you will probably spend more time at your desk than in your bed, so make this chair as comfortable and aesthetically pleasing as possible. You can wrap around a little shawl or use anything really. It'll transform the chair into something really quite nice to both look at and sit on.