So, you’ve just moved in and it’s time to make the place feel like home.

Whether you’re in Cooper Lodge or Weeden Lodge, a five-share or a studio let’s be real, there is not a lot of space to play around with.

I sat down with Canberra interior designers at Impressions Property Styling, Anna and Nicole, to get the best tips on styling for students.

First of all, function

Student accommodation is a blank canvas and Anna says blank canvas can either be ‘kind of depressing’ or a ‘chance to get creative.’

When you’re styling a space that you are going to live in, you need to think about yourself first.

How do you like to live in your space?

Some people designate it for chilling out watching movies, others prefer to keep it a study sanctuary.

Knowing what you need from your room and personalising it to suit will allow you to live more comfortably in it.

For the hard core studier

Most student accommodations have built-in desks, but you can bring in your own desk chair.

Wooden desk styled with a ghost chair and visible books
Source: Ebony Heins

Your room is generally focused around the desk.

For smaller rooms, Nicole suggests using a ghost chair (as pictured above.) These are super slick and stylish, while they will take up space, they will create the illusion that they don’t. Ensuring you have some negative space in your room will make it feel a lot bigger.

Negative space is the empty areas in your room, the part of the wall with no art or the corner with no chair or shelf.

This negative space creates spots for your eyes to rest and for you to move around more freely.

In small rooms, you can’t always sacrifice different spots for negative space. So, the ghost chair will bring in that feeling without taking away from your practical needs.

Storage is a big one and books take up a lot of it. Nicole’s number one tip for storing books is to not hide them away! Make small stacks on your bench and put a stationary holder or picture frame on top. This will free up your storage space for other things and the stacks of books will create height and colour.

For the one that needs a sanctuary

If your room is a sanctuary from the world, a calm space for you to get away, and get cozy, this is the style for you. The goal here is to bring a bit of warmth into the room.

Anna’s number one styling tip is to always add a rug. It completely changes the space by softening the room from the ground up.

Next, got for an occasional chair instead of a desk chair. Occasional chairs provide a functional space in a room through extra seating, but they are also designed to be a focal point. They add style and draw the eye.

Choosing an occasional chair has two steps. First is how it looks: does it suit your style? Does is have complementary colours? The next step is to sit in it! Don’t let beauty trump comfort!

Single bedroom styled with green bedhead, round jute rug and black occasional chair.
Source: Ebony Heins

‘It’s common for people living in small spaces to have a little furniture and accessories as possible,’ Anna says. While this type of minimalist decor has been all the rage for the past few years Anna says that now we’re moving into maximalism. ‘It’s about putting items on display and fully utilising your space!’

For the arts student

You create all these beautiful things and you want to put them on display. You could always blue tack them to the wall, but if you want to make it a little more sophisticated and protect your hard work, hang it in a frame using command hooks. These stick to your wall the same way blue tack does, but with extra strength to hold up some heavier pieces.

Decoration. Decoration. Decoration.

There are so many ways you can add colour, accessories, and other types of decor to your room. Fairy lights are a great way to go, they can sit flush to the wall and take up very little space.

If you want some more colour, hang a tapestry (wallpaper on a budget). However, Anna’s most important tip is to add some plants! They don’t have to be huge, but every plant you add to your room brings life with it!

A bedhead is a great way to add a touch of art without hanging anything from the wall, most will slip neatly behind your head and take up very little space.

Single bedroom styled with green and white linen, rattan bedhead and bedside plant

Some new linen and cushions are the best (and easiest) way to spice up your room. When choosing your linen decide on your colour palette first. ‘Once you have found a palette you love you can play around with different pillows and throws,’ Anna suggests starting with a white quilt cover and building from there.

Depending on your budget, room decor and furnishings are available all across Canberra. Ikea and Kmart are great budget options but if you feel like splurging check out Pillow Talk for all of your bedroom supplies.

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