Student House Decorating on a Budget: Where and What to Shop


  1. Student house decorating on a budget
  2. Uni room decor ideas
  3. Shared living room decor ideas
  4. Shared kitchen decor ideas


Woohoo, you’re off to uni and finally free to decorate your own space! There is no shortage of student house decorations and cool stuff for uni rooms out there but how do you make an impact without breaking the piggy bank? 🐷

Sure you want to put your own stamp on your space, express your personality and feel comfortable and inspired by your surroundings but – as we all know – students are strapped for cash. So, what are your options? Have no fear – we’ve got you covered with the best uni decor ideas and where to get them from. 

No matter whether you are a first-year student decorating your halls or a returning student moving into a shared house, we’ve got all the inspo you need to make your mark without blowing your budget. 👇student dorm

Student house decorating on a budget


Before we dive into all the ways in which you can pimp your place with decoration ideas, accessories and interior design hacks, let's talk about how to stay within budget. 👛

The truth is, a lot of interior design can be expensive. Instagram aesthetics and Pinterest pics make it look oh-so-simple but more often than not, the price tag attached to such aspirational rooms is eye watering. 😭

Spending a bundle on your own space isn’t a crime but it's well worth waiting until you’re out of uni to invest like that. Student digs are temporary and you often don’t know where you might end up after you graduate so don’t weigh yourself down with large, expensive furniture now – that can come later. 

For now, let’s look at how to make the maximum impact without breaking the bank. First up is our fabulous list of places to shop. All are affordable and some even list items totally free of charge – check them out:  

  • Freecycle

Freecycle is a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving and getting stuff for free in their local areas. It's all about reusing and keeping good stuff out of landfills and membership is free. Ethical, easy and free – what more could you ask for? ♻️

  • Facebook Marketplace

Facebook Marketplace lets you discover, buy and sell items with your local community. All you need is a Facebook account and time to scour the adverts. Find anything from clothes to plants and furniture – best of all – many of the goods are free if you collect. 🤝

💡 Top tip: Take a friend with you to collect your goods, there is safety in numbers and they can help you carry your haul.

  • Etsy

Etsy is an online trading platform that focuses on handmade or vintage items and craft supplies. From jewellery, bags and clothing to home décor, furniture and art, there is something for everyone and every room. ✨

💡 Top tip: Shop here if you like unique pieces and supporting small businesses.

  • IKEA

This Swedish giant is a household name and needs no introduction. IKEA designs and sells ready-to-assemble furniture, kitchen appliances and home accessories, much of which is both space-saving and economical. 

💡 Top tip: IKEA's famous “As-is” clearance sections by the checkout areas offer returned, damaged and display items for as much as 50 percent off! 

  • Second-hand shops

There is no shortage of second-hand stores in the UK. From national stores like Emmaus to regional stores run by charities like the British Heart Foundation, your local town or city will have its own offering. Find your nearest shop and nip down to see what goodies are on offer. 🛋️

  • Car boot sales

Filled with preloved goods that need some TLC, the UK’s car boot scene will have you digging for treasure in no time. Full of cool things for a student house, your local car boot also offers a great day out with friends. 🚘

💡 Top tip: Get there early and remember to take your own bags and transport to get your goods home safely.


Uni room decor ideas


Uni room decor can feel like a difficult thing to get right, especially if you are living in halls. Tiny rooms with limited natural light, a piddly single bed, brightly colored, built-in furniture, plain white walls and naff strip lighting don't give you a lot to work with, we know. 😩

What's more, you will be sleeping, studying, entertaining and sometimes eating in your room – it's a lot to ask of a shoe-box size space with little more than a desk. So how do you handle student room decoration in a way that will allow you to make the most of what little you’ve got?

Actually, there are plenty of affordable ways to spruce up your space. Student house decorating on a budget is easy! You’ve just got to be a bit clever about it – like when you’re designing a Montesorri room. Let's take a look at how to handle room decoration – student style. Here are our best university student room decorating ideas:

  • Houseplants

One of the easiest ways to bring a bit of beautiful nature into your otherwise bland room is to introduce a collection of houseplants. A fiddle-leaf fig plant is a low-maintenance winner if you’ve got a spare corner. Otherwise, a selection of succulents on the windowsill never fail to bring the outside in. 

💡Top tip: Ferns will survive without direct sunlight. Remember to have some fun with your plant pots too – they’re great for adding a splash of colour!  

  • Bedding

Getting a good night’s sleep is so important when you are stretching your brain and gaining new knowledge. Have some fun with your bedsheets, you may not be able to paint the walls but you can easily introduce some colour and pattern via your bed linen. 🛌

💡 Top tip: Going for some reversible bed sheets means you get two looks for the price of one!

  • Art on the walls

No home, room or hallway is complete without a gallery wall these days. Decorating one of your walls with all of your favourite paintings, limited edition prints, postcards and photographs is the perfect way to make it feel like your own. Put your beautiful things on the wall and have fun with contrasting frames. 🖼️

💡Top tip: Use handy command hooks so as not to damage the walls and make sure to include a mirror to give the impression of more light and space.

  • Mood lighting

University halls of accommodation are not known for their subtle mood lighting but you can easily do it yourself. Just make sure to bring several secondary lighting options with you. That way you can always create the perfect ambiance to suit the situation. 🔆

💡 Top tip: Tabletop sidelights and fairy lights are brilliant for adding options and creating a more cosy feel for when it's time to relax and unwind.

  • Soft furnishings

You may feel a little extra rocking up on your first day of university with a rug under your arm but actually, large bits of beautiful fabric – like rugs, throws and wall hangings – are easy to install and will immediately change the space beyond recognition. 

💡Top tip: Go all-in on an aesthetic – from neutrals to patterns or block colours – use these statement pieces to put your stamp on your space in one easy step. 


Shared living room decor ideas


Whether you are in halls or have moved into a shared house with friends, the living room is an important space for you to come together, relax and socialise. 

First of all, it's crucial to give everyone a chance to agree on what does and doesn’t need to be in the space, but once that’s done you can all get on with student house decorating on a budget together. Here are our best shared-living room decor ideas:

  • Bean bags

Along with lava lamps and bad hair, bean bag chairs were a staple of the 70s. They saw a resurgence in the 90s and we’re here to tell you they are back again. They aren’t the most sophisticated piece of furniture you’ll ever own but they are lightweight, versatile and fun – perfect for a bunch of students. 🧑‍🎓

  • Shared wall calendar

With any luck, your housemates will be your friends too. So, alongside a busy WhatsApp group for the house, a shared calendar means you can keep everyone in the loop when it comes to all-important dates like exams, revision weeks, nights out and Halloween house parties. 🥳

  • Diffuser 

With all the coming and going, you can be sure that your living room will be well-used. A winning combination of smelly student socks, microwave meals on the sofa and Friday night pre-drinking can lead to a cocktail of scents. We recommend popping a diffuser in the corner to counteract any unwanted whiffs. It’ll be the best £5 you’ll ever spend. 👃


Shared kitchen decor ideas


Student house decorating on a budget can be tricky when it comes to kitchen spaces. Often seen as the heart of any home, a student kitchen must accommodate more individuals and their needs than most! What’s more, every meal needs to keep you going for a full day of study! 🥘

First and foremost, a kitchen must be functional but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a bit of fun in there too. Let’s look at some of the ways in which you and your housemates can create a kick-ass student kitchen. 

  • Streamline shared goods

Although it may feel tempting to combine everybody’s kitchenware, you will very quickly run out of space. Sure, you can keep your favourite mug and throw your knife sharpener into the mix but no single household needs fifteen sets of cutlery, 30 pasta bowls and a million tea towels. Talk to each other and get used to sharing – that way you can maximise the space you’ve got. 🍽️

  • Vertical herb garden

“Students can’t cook'' is an old myth! We know you like to pack a bit of flavour into your meals. So, why not install a vertical herb garden in your shared kitchen? All you need is a couple of jam jars and some galvanised metal tape. Check out this how-to and save yourself some spondoolies on that weekly herb shop. 🌿

  • Get colour dipping

Colour blocking is an easy way to revamp old chairs and gives you an excuse to get crafty. After you’ve done your dining chairs, why not paint the table legs as well? Just paint the bottom 20-30 cm of the legs with the colour or colours of your choice for a delicious, dip-dyed aesthetic. 🪑

Some of our GoStudent tutors are students too, so they know how important it is  to balance achieving academic excellence with having a great time whilst you are at uni. Book a free trial lesson with one of them today to see how you can work together to get the most out of your time as a student. 🎒

Start your kid’s learning journey