Illustrated Interiors: Stylish Student Halls

Every creative wants their living space to reflect their passion for design, but achieving an artful home is often easier said than done. In this new fortnightly series I will help make the process of building a personality-filled, Pinterest-worthy home little easier.

Injecting interiors with illustration is one of my favourite things to both do, as well as write and read about. Far too much of my time is spent online, browsing for things to fill my imaginary home. While I will admit that getting to call online window shopping “work” was a big inspiration behind this column, it won’t only be about where to buy striking, well designed items. It will also include tips and tricks on how to style them, and mood board inspiration by season and trend.

Autumn for many (myself included) marks the beginning of a new school year. For many college and university students that means new student accommodation. In Scotland (where I am both from, and studying) at least, the first student finance payment is twice as big as the others. I can only assume this extra money is meant for kitting your room out with aesthetically pleasing accessories!

With this in mind, I have conjured three different looks to inspire your new students digs…

Interior Design, Illustration, Design, Students, Shopping

Look 1: Colour Blocking

1. Colour Blocking

Above: geometric bedding from George (£15), “Stagger” print from Risotto (£15), eye cushion from Arro Home (£29), eye print from MinPin (£18) and “Ron” plant pot from Wrap Magazine (£39)

All interior-addicts know that trends which start in the fashion industry, often find their way into the interior design world too. If you want to be ahead of the times then go for colour blocking. Every high street fashion store is now filled with colour blocked clothes, and translating it over into interiors makes for a sleek and easy aim to achieve.

Interior Design, Illustration, Design, Students, Shopping

“Stagger” Print by Risotto Studio (£15)

I would love to say that every online purchase I make is from an independent retailer, with 100% of the profits going straight to the artist, but I would be lying. It isn’t practical or financially feasible for students to kit out a room with items only bought directly from artists; plus trying to find one which sells bedding is near impossible. My solution is to go high-street with the bedding, and indie for the accessories. Start with some inexpensive, graphic inspired high street bedding which leaves you plenty of money for colourful accessories. Pair it with some inexpensive prints like the architectural beauty from Risotto Studio (pictured above), a bold eye cushion from Arro Home, and a few other choice pieces, like quirky planters and pattern-filled prints. Before you know you know it you’ll have a low budget, high impact room that is certain to be bright and bold enough to help you get up for those early lectures; but not so colourful that it’ll make your head spin the day after a big night out!

Interior Design, Illustration, Design, Students, Shopping

Look 2: Calming Pastels

2. Calming Pastels

Above: marble bedding from Urban Outfitters (£30), “Isabella” vase from Oliver Bonas, typographic pillowcase from Old English Company (£13.95), marble wrapping paper from Katie Leamon (£5.50) and pom pom cushion from Arro Home. 

In my opinion, high street brands seem to have a very odd understanding of what it is to live as student. Whether for a teenager or a university student, most retail displays aimed at young people seem to be filled with graffiti and saturated colour palettes. Yet, believe it or not, not all students want their living space to look like a run down skate park. Some – if not most – like to keep it classy.

Starting with the marble-pastel base of this duvet you can then easily accessorise with all sorts of quirky additions, like this pom pom cushion from Arro Home, stunning vase from Oliver Bonas and motivating “Don’t quit your daydream” cushion from the Old English Company.

Room by Arro Home

Alternatively, you could opt for a few DIY money-saving tips and tricks. A few marbled pieces of paper in frames will add a touch of sophistication, a quick YouTube tutorial can show you how to make pom-poms to attach to a cushion; you can even learn how to marble a plain vase with nail varnish and make your own statement piece (just google it!). Whether you buy it or DIY it, you will end up with a bespoke, sophisticated, calming room that you’ll struggle to get stressed in…even during the run up to your tightest deadlines.

Interior Design, Illustration, Design, Students, Shopping

Look 3: Crazy Cat Lady

3. Crazy Cat Lady

Above: patterned bedding from H&M home (£34.99), “Marvel Witch Cat” print from Sandra Dieckmann (£28), “Piss Off” cushion from Ohh Deer, cat head cushion from Arro Home (£32) and “Careless Whisker” coaster from Ohh Deer (£2.95)

This last scheme is a little unusual for me, because….well, I don’t actually like cats! I don’t think you should become cat obsessed, but if you are, then your room should reflect it. University is a time for you to leave all your school-day self consciousness behind, and be precisely who you are; if that is being a crazy cat lady or guy, then that’s okay.

Even if you’re not a feline fan, who could object to this Sandra Dieckmann print, passive aggressive cat coaster from Ohh Deer, or this cat-head cushion from Arro Home? Pair them with some slightly less feline-themed bedding to tone everything down? But then again if you can find equally stylish cat-covered bedding then go for it!

Interior Design, Illustration, Design, Students, Shopping

An assortment of prints from Risotto Studio

There are two main concerns when designing a student room – space and price. My advice for both is go bold, especially with the bedding. People often shy away from putting colourful bedding in a small room, for fear of making it look smaller. I find the opposite! Take it from someone with a small room and intensely patterned bedding, people don’t come in and immediately feel claustrophobic. If anything they are impressed by the quantity of patterns in such a small space. This also helps the budget. If the bedding keeps the eye entertained, you can minimise the need for accessories to complete the look.

Give it some thought yourself! I hope the advice proves food for thought, to fuel some design inspiration. Be sure to check back in 2 weeks time for more illustrated interiors!


Posted on Oct 31st, 17 by

Greg McIndoe - also known as Headless Greg - is an illustrator and design writer based in Glasgow, Scotland. He regularly writes for design magazines and online platforms, interviewing fellow illustrators and leading creatives.

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