When I first arrived at university, more years ago than I care to remember, the first thing I wondered was just how I was going to fit into the tiny room I’d been allocated. Unlike at home, you’re not really allowed to just put up a couple of shelves to take those extra books and computer games, let alone knock through into your neighbour’s room, which is what I wanted to do! But don’t despair, because there are a few things you can do to make the most of what little living space you suddenly have!
1. Don’t take more than you need!
Obviously, when you start packing, you want to take everything you own – but do you really need every single item of clothing, every book, every cuddly toy and every pair of shoes? Terms only last about 10 weeks anyway, and most students go home at least once in that time for some proper cooking and a catch-up with old schoolfriends. Make the most of the opportunity to swap over your clothes – that means you can go back to uni with an almost entirely refreshed wardrobe, while leaving the clothes you’ve been using with mum to get cleaned and ironed ready for the next time you’re home!
2. Desktop storage
Most halls of residence will provide you with a desk with drawers, but desktop shelf units create extra storage space for the bits and pieces you’re going to need on the odd occasion you actually do knuckle down and do some work. They sit on your desk without taking up any of the room you need to work in, and should free up other space for the more important things in life, like make-up, computer game controls and chocolate.
3. Storage boxes
You have to make the most of what space you have, no matter where it is. One often unused area is the space under your bed! You can get storage boxes specially designed for under the bed, which can hold a surprising amount of stuff, keeping it out of sight, yet easily accessible.
4. Wardrobe shelves
If you haven’t already filled the wardrobe to bursting point, it’s worth investing in one of those canvas shelf units you can hang from the clothes rail. It’s a great way of suddenly acquiring masses of extra storage without taking up extra space. The floor of a wardrobe is another often underused area – more storage boxes, or even plain cardboard boxes can keep things tidy and out of the way, but quick to get at when needed.
If you’ve got the floor space, a hollow ottoman trunk or stool with a removable top will provide both extra seating and extra storage space. You can get nice ones in a range of colours surprisingly cheaply from places like Argos.
There’s no getting away from the fact that, for a lot of students, living in a halls of residence is going to mean having a lot less space than they’re used to. But all it takes is a bit of imagination and a bit of common sense and you can quickly make your room much more like home.
Sarah Hickson is a regular blogger for packaging supplies company Davpack; her own university days are now well behind her, but she’ll soon be facing the student life again when her eldest daughter goes next year.