15 Things you need to take to university


University buying guide

So, you’ve received your results and you’re in (congratulations)! The halls have been assigned and you’re feeling excited, if not a little nervous, to move out of your parents’ house and into your own space for the first time. There’s just the slight issue of not having anything to fill the aforementioned space with.

Every year, in an effort to resolve this issue in one day, hoards of stressed and emotional parents end up fighting over £1.50 sets of Gnarp kitchen utensils in the aisles of IKEA.

The optimism and excitement you felt on the drive to the shop is quickly replaced with agitation and all the hopes you had of finally creating a space that is distinctly “you” are abandoned in favour of the desire to find whatever is cheapest and escape the crowds.

In the end you’ve acquired piles of inexpensive, generic (and often unnecessary) home accessories and implements, not quite the unique space you had envisaged.

This is where our guide comes in! We are here to stop you from over-buying – no you really don’t need that bag of 100 tea lights “just in case”. Our mission is to stop you from wasting money and to help you spend wisely on unique versions of the things you will actually need.

We’ve also added in a couple of fun items that you can grab with the budget you’ve freed up; after all, you’re only a fresher once.


Duvet & Cover

A duvet should definitely be on the IKEA shopping list. They have a great range of affordable options so you’ll be able to easily find one you like. Don’t get caught in the trap of feeling like you may as well buy your duvet cover in IKEA too, there is a vast selection of duvet covers out there in a similar price range (do you really want to go back to your friend’s place and see that they have the same boldly patterned IKEA bedding as you? Yeah we didn’t think so). We love the range of duvet sets and cushion covers from H&M; they come in a broad selection of colours and prints, and are totally affordable.

Bonus Tip:

It is highly likely that you’re going to have a single bed in your university hall’s accommodation. However, your digs in year 2 and 3 will probably have a double. To save money and avoid buying twice, opt for a double duvet now and enjoy knowing that it will see you through your whole time at university.


If you’re in self-catered halls, then you will need to invest in saucepans and frying pans. This is another item that you should purchase at IKEA. The Kalvakad set of frying pans is less than £10 and perfect for testing out your newly-discovered culinary skills. And if one happens to be destroyed or the burnt food residue just won’t come off, you have a spare to keep you going

Bonus Tip:

Bring storage labelswith you when you arrive, this way you can claim your kitchen storage space. You really don’t want to end up having to share cupboard space or have your plates and frying pans in one place and your food and glasses in another. They’re also a great way to mark your belongings if you’ve managed to pick up the same dinnerware set as someone else.

Your tea towels don’t need to be anything special, but they do need to actually work. The cheap, thin ones from some brands look nice but do a horrendous job of actually drying anything and leave tiny flecks of fabric all over your clean dinnerware.

We think this set of two from H&M is the perfect coupling of cheap and practical. Just remember to wash them regularly, or they’ll just be transferring dirt and bacteria back onto your newly cleaned plates, bowls and pans.


Tableware & Glasses

So, let’s be honest, you don’t really need an 18-piece dinnerware set. You’re the only one using them, trust us, your flatmates will all have their own 18-piece dinner set to be using. If there are five other plates or bowls in addition to the one you are lazily leaving in your room, then you have no incentive to wash up the one you’re using. Save your money and only take half of that amount.

Two to three of everything is plenty! We love H&M and Zara Home’s selection of dinnerware; mix and match to create a set you really like. We also love this “Send Noods” bowl from Urban Outfitters home; if you’re going to be eating 10p packet noodles, you may as well do it in style.

Glasses will inevitably get broken, so stick to cheap and cheerful. This purchase is definitely one for the IKEA list. Our favourite is the Vardagen set of 6 glass tumblers; they aren’t plain or dull and at just £3 it won’t be the end of the world when one smashes during an eventful game beer pong.



Okay, you can buy towels anywhere so you definitely don’t need to feel constrained to the IKEA basic range. We found this set of 4 towels from John Lewis (that’s right, John Lewis) for just £10. You can get them in a range of colours and if you’re feeling really bold, this striped tassel towel from H&M will certainly not get lost in the wash.

hm home striped towel.jpg

It’s always good to have a spare towel for those times where you keep putting off doing your washing and all of your others are sitting cold and damp in your laundry basket – we recommend this breathable one from IKEA, which also has handles so you can easily haul your 9kgs of long-overdue laundry to the machine.


Home Accessories

Just to warn you, you won’t have as much space as you think you will, trust us. All those little storage baskets and boxes you buy on a whim will quickly take up what little space you do have, and any home accessories will just look like clutter on your shelves and desk.

Invest in a few small items that you actually like and think express your personality and tastes. We’ve picked out a couple of examples, just to give you an idea of how you can mix things up from the generic options that most shops provide.

Instead of the classic IKEA tea light lantern that everyone has, try this holder from H&M – just make sure to check that you’re allowed candles in your room. Remember, this is the one place you can truly express your tastes and develop your personal style, so pick a few pieces you love and incorporate them boldly.



Title and Main: via Pinterest

All other images from respective brands

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