Create the perfect student home from home
Student homes are more than just accommodation. Here’s how to turn a blank space into a homely retreat
Student accommodation has come a long way since the days of shared rooms and disinterested landlords. Wellbeing and the impact of one’s surroundings are hot topics, as universities try to tackle the mental health challenges faced by today’s students. Philippa Charrier co-founded FAT Properties with her husband Tom six years ago, after spotting a gap in the market for high-quality student accommodation with a focus on wellbeing. Her book, Designed For Wellbeing, launches later this year. Here she explains how to create a sanctuary away from home.
Focus on the bedroom
‘In shared accommodation, the bedroom might be the one place a student has that is solely theirs to retreat to,’ explains Philippa. ‘So it needs to be a place of comfort and rest.’ Furniture should be practical yet comfortable, while finishing touches are key. ‘Throws, cushions and rugs will help them to feel like the space is theirs to live in. For a property to truly feel like home, students need control over their immediate environment. Studies have shown that if we believe we have more control, then we feel more confident.’
Philippa says personalisation is key, so put up photos of family and friends along with posters or favourite artwork. ‘Look for washi tape or masking tape, which shouldn’t damage walls. Or prop up a noticeboard or wire grid with clips. A decent lamp to provide atmospheric lighting is important, too,’ she says.
‘We all know the importance of sleep,’ Philippa continues. ‘Make sure the mattress is comfortable and replace it if needed.’ Look at easy-delivery options, like SIMBA Hybrid memory foam ones, which come in a box. Mattress protectors are great for making the bed feel like new too. If light is an issue, Philippa recommends fitting blackout blinds or curtains.
Move things around
Changing furniture around can have a big impact. ‘Desks should be positioned in an area that benefits from lots of natural light, ideally with a view of greenery,’ says Philippa. ‘Research has shown that office workers who sit next to a window are more productive.’ Desk chairs need to be comfortable and supportive, too.
Philippa also suggests a few houseplants, which will not only look good, but will have a positive impact too. ‘Likewise, use a few storage baskets and tubs to contain any mess,’ she adds. ‘There’s a direct link between untidiness and stress.’
Create communal hubs
‘A contemporary interior design scheme, comfortable furniture and a touch of personality are my top tips for communal spaces,’ says Philippa. ‘Blank, empty walls can feel imposing – a few photos or prints really bring a space to life.’
There should be enough space for everyone to sit comfortably on a sofa and around a dining table, with a few pieces of flexible furniture such as stools and pouffes on hand for when friends come over. ‘I’d also pack a few board games,’ suggests Philippa. ‘They’re a great way to get to know new housemates.’