A guide to stylish student living — on a budget

Here’s our advice on what to take with you — and what to leave behind.

The countdown to freshers week is on, and students moving into rented homes and halls of residence will inevitably be thinking about what to take with them. With the cost of course-work requirements and the limitations of a student loan in mind, here are tips on the essentials — and what can be left behind.

In the bedroom
The right bedding is essential if you are to enjoy a key element of student life — a lie-in. A mattress-topper should be at the top of the shopping list. Basic hygiene aside, a topper will make the most lumpy old divan more comfortable. Argos has a range from £20.

A multi-season double duvet is also essential, along with decent pillows to replace the often flat and lumpy ones provided.

If your room is tiny, you will need to use every inch of space. In the wardrobe use multi-tier hangers (Lakeland has a good selection) to make the most of hanging space, while an overdoor hanger is perfect for coats and jackets. John Lewis has a classy chrome option for £12.

Under-bed storage is your friend. Use wine boxes or empty fruit boxes from a greengrocer. Put castors on them so they roll easily, and if you’re feeling creative, brighten them up with some paint.

Students not living in halls will need to invest in a desk. The Ronnie writing desk, in beech and white from Wayfair.co.uk, costs £54.99 with free delivery. It needs assembling, but is a reasonable size.

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Finally, don’t forget earplugs — a necessity for a good night’s sleep.

In the kitchen
It’s best to see what your housemates have and are willing to share, and then fill in the gaps rather than end up with five spiralisers, but no kettle. A coffee-maker, space allowing, is a nice little luxury, while a bottle opener and corkscrew will be regularly used.

Cookbooks will be welcome in a shared household for those who fancy living off more than pizza and Pot Noodles. You can find free recipes online too.

In the bathroom
Flip-flops are a godsend in the bathroom because the floors in a shared household can become grotty quickly.

A laundry bag will be useful, and if you don’t have the luxury of a washing machine, pilfer liquid tablets from home to avoid spending £2 a turn on powder at the launderette.

Everywhere else
Good lighting can make a big difference to how a room feels and is useful for all-night study sessions. Ikea’s Tertial work lamp looks suitably mid-century and can be fixed to a desk or shelves. At £8.50, you can probably afford a few.

Don’t forget an extension cord because plug sockets are often in the least useful places.

Multipurpose fairy lights can improve an unappetising space. Peg fairy lights, £5.99 for 2m from Festive Lights, have ten light-up clips that can be used to hold photos and postcards. Be aware that some halls of residence have anti-fairy-light policies. If you are living in such an environment, Urban Outfitters has a rope and peg picture hanging kit for £6 that does the same job, but without the illumination.

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Update any white, paper lightshades that can tear and become grubby easily with a horizon chrome-effect domed pendant light, £27 at B&Q.

Cover bland walls with wall stickers, which are easy to peel off when it is time to move out. Notonthehighstreet.com has a range of images from Banksy-style cartoons to maps of the world.

Mementoes from home are comforting and can look good. Buy a multi-slot photo frame to display photos in style. Matalan has a simple 24-photo black frame (£25) that would look great filled with black-and-white images.

Folding chairs can double as bedside tables or a makeshift shelf; try the Gunde chair from Ikea for a student-friendly £5.

A cheap rug can hide ugly carpet. The Tiki stripe rug, £38 from Amara, would set off a white duvet cover nicely.

For a touch of nature, something as indestructible as a sweetheart plant, which will trail prettily around a bookshelf, can be a worthwhile addition.

Peg fairy lights, £5.99 for 2m from Festive Lights

What not to bring

● A TV. They hog space, are antisocial and if you really need to catch up on a box set you can watch it on your laptop.

● Candles and incense. Most halls of residence ban them for safety reasons, and even if you are renting, an open flame can have disastrous consequences.

● More than one suitcase. Pack your stuff in cardboard boxes, which you can throw out or recycle. Keep one small bag for weekends away and holidays.