prettying up your share house

In an ideal world, a girl would be cashed up enough to move into an inner-city penthouse apartment with her best pals when she turns 18 and spend the next x amount of years living it up. Or at least, that was how I'd imagined moving out of home would be when I was finishing high school. The reality is obviously more along the lines of an old rickety Queenslander (hot in summer, cold in winter) shared with four random people, filled with stacked dishes, empty beer bottles and a seedy old couch or two.

But fret not my darlings, because even on a shoestring student budget you can add enough quirk and character to your humble abode so as when you look back at your time there, you will forget the never-ending collection of wet towels and fights about midweek parties and bask in the memories of kitsch bric-a-brac and shared living.

1. When you first move into your new share house, you will pool together bits and pieces of random furniture and decor from maybe three or four different people. They will likely have pooled together those pieces from three to four other people (parents, aunts and uncles etc) so the mix you are left with is going to be eclectic to say the least. But that's perfect! Shared living is the best time to embrace mismatched decor. Accept everything and try to be creative about what you can do with it. One of my favourite pieces is an old iron outdoor set that we literally picked up from the side of the road, sanded and repainted. The same can be done with desks, tables, chairs, cupboards and shelving units.

2. Once you have jazzed up everything you already have, it's time to start picking up the little bits and pieces that make a house a home. If you are low on cash, as most students tend to be - steer clear of expensive antique shops and homeware havens. You will no doubt end up falling deeply in love with a wingback armchair worth half your annual wage and leave empty-handed and defeated. Instead, get thrifty and start scouring local garage sales, markets and op shops. Some great low price items you might stumble across include throw cushions, plant stands, mirrors, china and lamps. I love the idea of using old suitcases as a side table. It doubles as storage too, which is great when you're crammed into a tiny room with no wardrobes.

3. Now that you have the furniture and the odds and ends, bring some life into the place. Buy a pot plant or some fresh flowers and revel in the difference it makes. For only a couple of dollars, it will make the world of difference I swear. I personally love hanging baskets and think they look fabulous at the entrance to a house. If you don't have the luxury of a garden, it's a great way to add some greenery to the place.

3. I'm not your mum so I'm not going to tell you it's a good idea to make a cleaning roster, pick up after yourself and remember to eat some vegetables but I will remind you be respectful of your roomies. Moving out of home can be one of the best times in your life, especially if you spend your time bonding, chatting, cooking, sipping tea, swapping secrets and sharing clothes. If you usually buy yourself one new piece of clothing a month, try swapping that every second month for one new item for the home. Believe me when I tell you buying for the home is just as satisfying.

And did I mention fresh flowers? Seriously!

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