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Room hacks on a student budget

top tips

Room hacks on a student budget

18 September 2020


by Tara O'Brien

Tara O'Brien

You’ve checked in and now wondering what to do next before College / Uni life fully returns, in this new normal. Start thinking about cost-effective ways to make your room a home-away from home – after all, this is a space where you will be living, studying and sleeping.

Mark Phelan and the aparto team hosted the first virtual interior design workshop. Mark comes from a wealth of experience within the lifestyle, fashion, and homeware industry. Over the coming weeks, we want to guide and encourage you to create a multi-use space – your own sanctuary that inspires creativity, a feeling of calmness, while at the same time having fun and building on your uplifting working space to motivate you with your studies.  

Mark will guide us on a journey through different lifestyle topics, creative styling hacks and interior design and storage tips, all to support you living with us and giving your new space its own personality!

Each workshop will be practical, and student focused. In workshop #1 there were key concepts – Lighting, Colour and Shopping on a student budget.


Your body picks up on different types of light. There are two types of lighting –  a warm light which will help your body to relax and unwind and a bright light, which is a light where you will feel energised, and gives your mind, body a release of life. Bright light is key to have when you are busy studying, to help your mind function even more efficiently.  You will not need to spend lots of money when thinking of lighting. All that is different is a bulb – IKEA is great for this – all it will say on the packaging is warm light or bright light bulb. In your room / working area you need a bright light for your desk lamp and in your chill time I would recommend a warm light lamp. For your desk space, I would recommend that the lamp is not covered with a shade, you need it be open – to give lots of light, now you are ready to hit the books!

Colour Palette

Choosing the right colours is vital – it will affect your transition, mood and sleep. These are the colours we would recommend for your interior palette and creating your student home.  Grey – you might think adding a touch of grey will dull your space, but actually it will give the effect of a larger space. White – is a really good colour and your aparto rooms are mostly white, white gives you a sense of space and helps to widens the room. Yellow – is a really good colour for stimulating your brain and for studying. You will see this in a lot of libraries. So please do add some yellow into your space with books, cushions, plants or a nice throw to your bed. Light Green – is a great colour to create that tropical oasis, greens give a reflection of light, a feeling of relaxation and your own homely chill out vibes. These colours will ensure to support your stay and give you a good night sleep approx. 7 hours and support your multi-functional room. Colours I would tend to avoid in your living, studying and working space – Red, Purples, Browns.


Be creative with your storage and I would encourage upcycling, where possible. If your study desk is facing the wall, do something fun with your pin board and also your storage to keep motivated and inspired. Each room may be slightly different in terms of wardrobe space, I like to buy bright patterned boxes – to add character to the space, when my wardrobe is full. I use these boxes mainly to store my study books, socks or accessories and stack at the side of my desk or bedside locker. Make sure your desk is not cluttered – get a nice stationery and a desk organiser to keep your things in order. Having flexible areas in your room can support better work flow for you to get your work done and let your creativity shine!

Shopping List

Avoid distractions, so set your budget and try not to go over it. Then next up, make your shopping list. Each website I’ve recommended, has the capability to make your own wish list and to ascertain costings. Be bold and adventurous with your style, storage ideas and bedding, but not on your spend! You have an end goal in mind – to create your own home-away from home on your student budget.

Mark Phelan’s top tip – “When it comes to design and styling your student room be adventurous, create a mood board to draw out your own ideas, give your room a sense of personality and feeling of home, try something new and most of all have FUN along the way“!.

Where to Shop

  1. HomeSenseLovely lampshades, props and storage.
  2. IKEAall your homeware need.
  3. Sostrene GreneScandi style, quirky room and desk accessories.
  4. Mujigreat for storage ideas and cool desk accessories.
  5. Made trendy lampshades.
  6. Dealz / Mr Price / Primark / Arnotts Bargain Basement – budget homeware essentials.
Tara O'Brien

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