A quick guide to decorating your first digs

First Apartment After many, many years of living with your parents and possibly spending some time in res, you’re moving into digs. And you couldn’t be happier. Finally, you’ll have your own space to do with as you please. Of course, you may have housemates, but you’re all equals and there’s no one making the rules. That’s pretty cool. It’s definitely something you’ve been looking forward to for quite some time and now you’re about to move into your very own place.

Even though you may be renting the place, you definitely want it to feel like home. There are few things worse than paying to live somewhere where you don’t entirely feel comfortable. You want a place where you can come back to after a long day of lectures, put your feet up and feel like you are truly in your own space. Which, of course, all starts with decorating it in your own style (and possibly your housemates’ style as well).

The thing is, you’ve never done this before. You don’t have the things you need to fill a whole house or flat. At most, you’ll have a few knick-knacks from your bedroom at your parents’ house. And that’s definitely not enough. So, here is a quick guide to decorating your first digs and make it your own.

Before you begin, you need to know how you’re going to pay for all this

You are well aware that your finances aren’t great. You’re a student and it’s highly unlikely that you have deep pockets to fund this project. So, you have to make the most of the money you have. Which, sorry if you hate numbers, means you need to create a budget. A really good budget. A budget where the numbers match up and all costs are accounted for. If you’re majoring in maths or accounting, you’re set. If you’re a humanities student, you may want to spend some time making sure everything is correct.

Always start with the necessities. Always.

You may want to buy cool light fixtures and some framed posters of your favourite movies, but that’s not the place to start. You need to first buy the basics and see how much you have left to spend on the fun stuff. That is, unfortunately, the way life works, especially when it comes to decorating your home. The necessities need to be covered first. The fun stuff can come later and be collected over time. You don’t want to have some really cool features in your house or flat and no duvet cover.

Start with the bedroom. It is where you will likely spend most of your time, after all. Ensure that you have your bedding sorted. Yes, more than one set of bedding is a necessity. And when it comes to your bed, choose colours and patterns that you know will go well with whatever you buy next. As mentioned earlier, you only need the basics at this stage and the cool stuff will come later.

It cannot be stressed enough how important curtains are in your bedroom. As a student, you’ll probably find yourself needing to sleep when the sun is up after pulling an all-nighter. Which means you definitely curtains that will block out the sunlight. Stick with dark colours and heavy fabrics. They may make your room seem dark and gloomy when they’re closed. But, of course, there’s no need for them to be closed during the day. Shop for curtains online in South Africa and compare prices. You want to go for quality but you also don’t want to use your entire budget on luxurious curtains when you won’t be living there for longer than a few years.

Most digs come with at least some furniture, especially couches. If not, see what you can get secondhand or convince your parents’ to donate from their house. You do need couches. No matter how committed you are to your studying, you’ll want to have friends over at some point and they aren’t going to enjoy sitting on your cold, hard floor.

A desk is another thing you’ll need. You’ll find them at bargain prices in small student towns as everyone uses them and most people leave them behind when they move on from university. Focus on comfort rather than looks when it comes to this piece of furniture.

And then you can move on to the cool stuff

Yes, now you can go buy all the cool stuff you want. Within your budget, of course. Check out secondhand stores in the vicinity of the university. You’ll find that, as with desks, past students have sold a lot of really great things to these stores in the past. Avoid buying accessories at fancy stores with name brands. Your tastes will likely change over the next few years anyway.