Saturday, 22 March 2014

Making my new room pretty on a budget.

Personally, I think a home is so important. It needs to be somewhere you feel happy, safe and comfortable. And when you’re in a house-/flatshare, your room is really the only space you have that’s your own, so I like to put a lot of effort into making mine nice.

Loyal blog readers may recall previous posts on this subject ('The twenty best ways to decorate your student room at uni' and 'My university bedroom' spring to mind) but having faced more of a challenge this time around, I think another post is in order. Allow me to show you round (because who doesn't love a good nosey round someone else's home?)

Yes, I’ve been in my new place for nearly a week now and I’m really happy here. Amazingly for moi, I have the master room in the house, and you know what that means, don’t you? HELLO, MASSIVE ROOM AVEC BALCONY!

It really is massive, and that is truly wonderful apart from one teeny thing: I moved into the room completely unfurnished except for a bed. It is a very very pretty bed though – beautiful old wood with little heart details (see pic at the top of this post). Je l’aime beaucoup.

Now, if I was moving here for the foreseeable future, I would relish the opportunity to find all sorts of beautiful antique furniture to sit alongside my beautiful antique bed, but alas I shall be here for less than six months and so it seems silly to spend lots of money and just have to leave everything behind.

The room is absolutely gorgeous as it is though - a wonderful high ceiling with ornate details, lots of light and bright, clean walls and floor. With the sun shining in during the day, it's just a really pleasant place to be. It's almost a shame I'll be at work all week and won't get to enjoy be lovely room until the weekend.

My room upon first moving in - plenty of room to dance!
So, the challenge is/was to furnish my room and make it homey yet spend as little money as possible. Challenge accepted. Here’s how I’ve done it so far…

Some people feel they don't need a desk. I am not one of those people. Sure, I'll be spending most of my days at a desk at work, but when you need somewhere to write essays and blog posts in your own time, a desk is a must. Tragically, desks ain't the cheapest of items.

On the recommendation of my new housemates, I paid a visit to this awesome place called 'Les Petits Riens' (Little Nothings) where you can find everything from second-hand books to bikes and lots of old furniture at great prices. What's more, the items are all donated and then the money from sales helps those in difficulty such as homeless people.

There were lots of wonderful old antique items which would have looked beautiful, but I stuck to my thrifty roots and snapped up a pretty ugly (oxymoron lolz) but practical desk and desk chair for a bargainous 25 Euros. 

After an awkward and noisy walk home pulling my new purchases on a cart through the cobbled streets of Brussels (by all means, everyone, stare away) and some help from the boys to carry them up to my room, my new furniture was in.

I gave the desk and drawers a clean but decided I definitely needed to jazz this baby up. And here's how I did it:

Yes, my dear friends, I have covered my desk in wrapping paper. Pretty, cheap and practical (my mouse works perfectly) - what's not to love? I simply sellotaped round the edges et voilà! Some people may think it's a bit bright and in-your-face, but I'm a more-is-more kinda gal (can you tell?), and I've been trying to add colour to my room.

I collect postcards to stick up and painted the little canvas with friends last week
These are going to bloom into beautiful bright daffodils! Plants are always great.
Oh, and I couldn't not bring my fave coaster from home...

A present from my mum. Should I be insulted? Well I'm not.
But the usefulness of wrapping paper doesn't stop there, oh no. Behold:

Yup, I have used wrapping paper folded back on itself as a curtain, again, simply sellotaped up. For some reason the curtains here only cover half the window, so my trick keeps the light out enough for me to sleep through the sunrise but also acts as something of a stained glass window when the sun shines in. Who knew?

Now, a girl with a lot of clothes obviously needs somewhere to put them. I have recently discovered that wardrobes and chests of drawers are pricey little (big) things, so I was going to have to find a way around this...

Voilà - clothes rail for 12 Euros. Don't mind if I do! When choosing hangers, I was confronted with either black or multi-coloured... Can't believe I even stopped to think: obviously, multi-coloured was the way to go. I also think having pretty, colourful clothes, shoes and bags out on display adds some nice liveliness to the room.

And what about drawers? Well, my two suitcases are functioning just perfectly as drawers right now. Considering they were going to have to live in here somewhere, they might as well be used for something.

The bed is obviously the centrepiece in any bedroom (it's kinda in the name, isn't it?), so I bought a cheap but soft cream throw to go over my duvet, pale pink pillow case and bright floral cushion to make mine look pretty, and I have to say I think they all look rather lovely together. 

I was also lucky to be left a pretty ditsy floral sheet too, so I make sure to leave a bit of that on display. The prospect of an un-made bed really stresses me out. When a bed is simply made, the whole room looks tidier and more orderly. Don't be a slob, people.

You may think I'm being slobby by leaving my scarves draped over the end of my bed, but I actually do so because I think they look nice and add yet more personality to my big, plain room, don't you? And the 'sweet dreams' bag? That was the packaging of my pillow. Why throw it away when it's so cute and adds yet more colour?

I managed to commandeer a bedside table from my housemate and have proceeded to use it to display some of my prettier bits and bobs - don't hide away your pretty things

The Cath Kidston case is my make-up bag and the Kate Spade box is my year abroad jewellery box (trust me, I've got about ten times as much at home home!) The little mirror was a mere 2.99 and I love the vintage style. Sure, it's not exactly sturdy and multiple bigger mirrors would be preferable, but in my situation, it'll do just fine thanks. And it's preeeeeetty.

Speaking of pretty things, I managed to sneak a few of my fave girly nick-nacks into my suitcase from home:

Photos are a must!

They make me happy. Alas, fairy lights and bunting did not make the cut. This makes me sad.

However, more happiness comes in the form of a recent delivery: check out these magnets of my Instagram snaps from StickyGram!

Aren't they cool!? Y'all may know I'm a pretty keen Instagram user (some may say too keen but I say pfft in response) so when StickyGram offered me a set of my own Insta-magnets (I've made up that name) I was very excited! I took the opportunity to get a few of my fave year abroad pics in magnet form...

I had a lot of fun playing around on the website (they do phone and tablet cases too!) and it's really easy to do - you just log into your Instagram account, all your pictures load up and then you just drag and drop the ones you want. Having as many pictures as I do, however, I would've quite liked a way to randomly shuffle through my pics, but hey, it's not essential. 

I think they could add a nice personal touch to your fridge (or in my case, radiator) and if you want to get some yourself, enter the code: 'FRIENDUYZR' to get 15% off your first order. Oh, and keep your eyes peeled for a potential giveaway coming soon...

A bin is a somewhat boring but essential bedroom item, and most of the ones I found costed simply more than I wanted to spend. Because I mean, it's a bin. Who wants to spend hard-earned money on a bin? Not me. So, dear friends, I improvised. With a bucket. And a very pretty bucket indeed:

A mere 3 Euros and does the job perfectly. Could not agree more with the charming retro lady there too: A clean house is a beautiful house, a clean house for a happy family. Exactly.

It's little bits and bobs like this that could be totally boring but can also add colour and personality to your room depending on the choice you make. I know which I choose.

Sure, I still want to get some posters, more plants and a rug would be delightful - y'all know I'm going to keep amassing things over my time here. Heck, the room will probably look totally different by the time I leave! - but for now, I'm pretty pleased with my little (huge) room, and I certainly feel at home here.

UPDATE: One day after originally writing this post and I've already bought myself a beautiful bunch of tulips and a big pink orchid. Both were from an amazingly cheap market and are adding a certain springy joy to my room. (Pink flowers are kind of a weakness for me...)

With a little creativity, it's totally possible to make a room lovely without spending too much money. What do you think of my ideas? And have you got any of your own? I'd love to hear them!


  1. Looking beautiful Rachel! Definitely going to be stealing some of these for my lovely but sparse room in Verona..!

    1. Thanks, Em! Hope you do (and then I want to see it!) X

  2. Your room is so pretty - and that view out the window!! :)

    1. Thank you! I know, it's pretty great :) X

  3. That's a lovely big room, and I have to agree with you about unmade beds, I simply cannot leave mine unmade! I love the wrapping paper idea too, and if you get bored with it you can change it - genius!

    1. Glad you agree, Chloe. And ooh, I must say I hadn't even thought about switching the wrapping paper - great idea! X

  4. Looks amazing! I miss having a big room - and I'm so jealous of the windows!

  5. Haha, indeed who does want to spend a lot of money on a bin?!

    Such good tips here, I love the idea you did for your desk, makes it so much more personal too.

    Hmm maybe...

  6. Looks gorgeous! And those tulips are a lovely touch too.

    Beauty and Lifestyle Blog


    1. Thanks Emily. You can't go wrong with a bunch of pink tulips! X


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