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Crafting a Home Away from Home: The University Student’s Guide

Author imageThe Mattress Warehouse

The 2024 academic year has started with a bang. And with that South African university students find themselves immersed in everything campus life has to offer. With the first quarter drawing to a close, many have returned home for recess and the Easter holidays. However, stepping back into the familiar embrace of home can sometimes intensify feelings of longing for the comfort of your childhood bedroom. This is a significant new chapter in your life. And it is not uncommon to encounter challenges in adjusting to all the changes. 

At the heart of this adjustment lies the need for a sense of belonging. A refuge where students can unwind and recharge amidst all the lectures, tests and assignments. Every student needs a place to sleep, and the quality of that sleep plays a huge role in your academic success. Yet, relaxation and rejuvenation go beyond more than just mattress quality. Your bedroom’s colour scheme, layout, and ambience all contribute to crafting a space that helps you recharge.

So, how can you craft a home away from home? To provide insights, we’ve turned to university students experienced in decorating their student accommodations for their invaluable tips and advice.

Personalising Your Space:

As per Amanda Zuckerman, the cofounder and president of Dormify, ‘Personalization is the predominant trend we’re observing in dorm rooms this year,” as mentioned in an interview with Architectural Digest. Personalising your student accommodation is not just about making it aesthetically pleasing; it’s about crafting a space that truly feels like home—a sanctuary where you can retreat and recharge amidst the demands of university life. We reached out to students to discover how they’ve transformed their living spaces into personalised havens.

Many students emphasised the importance of adding personal touches to their rooms to infuse them with warmth and character. From photos and posters to picture frames and small trinkets, these items serve as visual reminders of cherished memories and interests. Rugs, cushions, and ornaments such as vases also play a significant role in adding personality and charm to the space. If you’re stuck on how to do this, you might find it helpful to explore our post on How to Use Colour Psychology in Your Home: An Expert’s Guide.

When setting up their living spaces, students identified certain essentials they couldn’t do without. The inclusion of a work area equipped with a desk, lamp, and comfortable chair was a common theme. In other words, a dedicated space where students can focus on their studies without the temptation of a comfy bed or television. Additionally, a coffee area complete with a kettle and other amenities was deemed essential. Especially to fuel those late-night study sessions.

Creating Comfort in Every Corner:

When it comes to cultivating a homey living space, we posed the question to students: how important is comfort, especially in terms of their mattress? The response was unanimous: comfort is key when creating your home away from home. 

Regarding academic success, the consensus among students is clear: quality sleep is crucial. One student aptly stated, “I am able to work more productively and be more motivated if I have a good night of sleep, which is directly related to the comfort level of my mattress and how well I sleep in my environment.”

In one study, researchers distributed wearable activity trackers to 100 students in a university chemistry class to investigate the link between sleep and academic performance. The study found that higher grades correlated with better quality, longer duration, and greater consistency of sleep. Surprisingly, sleep measures on the night before a test showed no relation to test performance, while sleep duration and quality for the month and week leading up to a test were strongly correlated with better grades. 

These findings highlight the importance of prioritising good sleep habits for academic success. A quality mattress goes a long way in sustaining these habits. For further insights, have a look at our guide on The Perfect Student Beds for Your Wallet.

Making the Most of Limited Space:

By now, you’ve probably come across those Feng Shui TikToks, demonstrating how it’s entirely possible to transform a small space into something spacious and inviting. As a student, you’re probably not living in the lap of luxury; in fact, your living space might resemble more of a shoebox. So, the question arises: do other students have any creative solutions for making the most of confined living quarters?

One student emphasised the significance of organisation in optimising space utilisation. “It is very important to be organised and have a place for everything and keep it all tucked away,” she shared. By maintaining a tidy and clutter-free environment, students can maximise space while fostering a sense of tranquillity and orderliness. Additionally, she suggested incorporating decor elements while keeping spaces simple, striking a balance between aesthetic appeal and functionality.

To conclude, do these seasoned homemakers have any advice for new students? New students are encouraged to view their living space as their own canvas for self-expression and comfort. “This new space is your space and you need to make it work for you,” one respondent advised. By infusing their surroundings with elements that resonate with their personality and evoke feelings of happiness, students can cultivate a sense of belonging and familiarity in their new environment. Another essential piece of advice is to prioritise comfort in every aspect of their living space. Don’t shy away from bringing in items that evoke feelings of happiness and nostalgia, such as bedding that is both comfortable and visually pleasing. 


Mularz, A. (2023, September 11). 17 Stylish and Space-Saving Dorm Room Ideas: Design pros school us in the coolest ways to decorate for dorm life. Architectural Digest. Retrieved from https://www.architecturaldigest.com/gallery/dorm-room-ideas

Okano, K., Kaczmarzyk, J.R., Dave, N., et al. (2019). Sleep quality, duration, and consistency are associated with better academic performance in college students. npj Science of Learning, 4(1), 16. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41539-019-0055-z

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