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Realistic Students’ Guide to Room Design

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at St. Andrews chapter.

Maybe you’ve seen the videos of people on Tik Tok who organise their fridge into perfect compartments of washed food and delicious snacks that never run low or reorganise their makeup into organisers that somehow perfectly fit 1) into the drawer and 2) all their brushes, eyeshadow pallets, and rounded perfume bottles. While I wish I could give you all the peace of mind that comes from watching those online in real life, I’m just an overworked college student living on a budget who simply wants their room to feel a bit calmer and more organised. So, here is the realistic students’ guide to room design:

Store things in plain sight but make it ~aesthetic~

It’s so easy to keep things completely in the way but out of sight. My favourite strategy is using bins. Get a large wicker basket to take away the clutter. Many even have a trapdoor-like top that hides the random objects inside. Reusing mason jars and various other glass objects on your desk can be a great way to make everything look purposeful while also ensuring the jar isn’t left to a landfill.

My next desk tip is using an organiser whether that be for pens, pencils, sticky notes and tacks or the large stack of notes and utility notices that pile up and add to stress. Putting these necessities in an easy to find location will also reduce feelings of chaos on your desk.

My final hidden-in-plain sight idea is to add shelving to your walls. Of course, landlords and hall inspectors won’t be the happiest with a permanent mount, so find an adhesive model and be careful when removing the shelves to ensure pieces of the wall don’t come with them. This is a good way to use up blank space on your walls, making your room feel more like home, and take away some of the cluttering items.

Look below your furniture

One of the best ways to clear up space around your room is to reuse the areas that have already been taken up. Shockingly, I hear from few people who use the underside of their bed as a storage space. Even with a high bed, you can use containers to hide the chaos. If you are a huge proponent of the under-the-bed trick, and you’re looking for another reusable space, try the underside of your wardrobe – once again, a container or a packing bag can be a great way to declutter these areas. Finally, and this one is my favourite, rearrange your desks with nightstand combinations. If the stand is short, tuck it under your desk for an extra set of drawers. If the stand is the same height as your desk, add some counter space to your work area by adding the stand to the end.

Get creative

This is when room decoration gets most fun. When moving into my room, the first thing I did was go through all the random pieces of furniture discarded from previous tenants. This is how I ended up with three shower caddies, a yellow chair my dad immediately went to move out of the room, and 4 coat hangers. In taking these objects to fill necessary gaps in my room, I selected a shower caddy to fit perfectly in the small space between my bed and the wall. Without a nightstand or the floor space for one, the shower caddy’s small profile but increased height fit while holding all the goods I needed. Filled with all the items, one can barely tell the silver tower is meant to be filled with shampoo and conditioner and not hair ties and my water bottle. Next, I took mercy on the yellow chair. I liked the cheerful colouring, and although it was slightly stained, I reasoned that with a blanket covering the chair to remove focus from the sight. My final flip was reusing one of the coat hangers for bags and coats on the wall behind the door where, with the door open, the tangle of scarves isn’t visible. The backside of the door itself and other random furniture facing into dead space can be great areas to carry all the miscellaneous items that don’t fit into your closet.

Rework your closet

I know my closet is overflowing, and it’s not because I’m on Concrete Catwalk’s constant “student inspo.” More like my wardrobe is the size of a university twin bed and is made from a material that collapses whenever too filled ( maximum of 4 shirts in one of the drawers). Hopefully, your wardrobe is more stable than mine because I have some ways to declutter your hangers and drawers. First, take all your out of season clothes, and put them in the suitcase or bin you brought them in. You don’t need your thin summer shirts in the rainy, windy, dead-of-winter Scottish weather, I promise. That should already clear so much out of the way. Next, when it comes to hangers, vertical or multi hook hangers allow you to reduce the space you use up, and especially if you don’t have drawers, vertical hangers are a great way to store your shirts and pants without cluttering hanging space. Finally, if you do have drawers, I find the rolling method is best. Folding can be too time consuming, and I’m personally not great at it, so rolling is an easy way to store clothes while using less space. Try it out! 

Katie Gretter

St. Andrews '25

I'm the Head of Social Media for the Her Campus St Andrews chapter. I also wrote for the chapter for a year and loved it. I'm a 3rd year student at the University of St Andrews studying International Relations. I have always been a strong intersectional feminist and loved the empowering feeling of going to the Women's March throughout the years. Her Campus is a great way to reconnect with these feelings of support within a group written by women for women.