It may feel like just last week that you were waving them off on their first day of primary school, now suddenly your son or daughter’s all grown up and off to university.
Your duties as a parent are far from over yet, though. While decorating their nursery might be a distant cherished memory, now you can help pick out items for their new living quarters.
Your pockets may already be feeling lighter, especially if you’ve had to fork out for tuition fees and books, but helping your teenager turn their new digs into a cosy and functional home from home is sure to be appreciated and will make you feel better too.
Smart bedding, throws, cushions, funky desk accessories and posters (take Blu-Tack as drawing pins are rarely allowed) can hide a multitude of sins and the decor disasters inflicted by previous occupants.
“College rooms can be small and bare with various colour tones on the wall, so it’s important to avoid clashing colours and add a bit of fun to give the room a homely feel,” says Ben de Lisi, designer at Debenhams.
“Try to stick to monochrome and introduce quirky designs which will instantly transform the space and make it personal.”
So make sure they get a first-class degree in room style by choosing from a selection of student-chic buys, which won’t break the bank of mum and dad!
Hot wash: It can be a shock to realise that washing doesn’t always magically get done by the house fairy (mum!). But providing a laundry basket where they can easily dump dirty clothes is a first step in the learning process – like a Jute laundry hamper from Next, boasting the witty slogan ‘Deluxe Laundry Service’, £22 (0844 844 8000/www.next.co.uk).
Photo gallery: Pictures of family and friends are essential for creating atmosphere and keeping homesickness at bay. Plastic Picture Pockets hanging galleries from Clever Little Ideas come in a range of sizes, from £7.99 (020 7734 5678/www.cleverlittleideas.com).
Alternatively, bring back memories of school with a Ruler picture frame from Next, £8, available in stores only (0844 844 8000/www.next.co.uk).
Seat of learning: There’s a limit to how many people can squeeze on to a bed, and there’s usually only a desk chair provided in student rooms, so extra seating is essential, whether it’s a floor cushion or a pouffe. A stool which looks like a pile of books has student chic written all over it,and a Cardboard Stool Bookworm from Jasmine Way can double up as a handy little table, £23.40 (020 8715 2520/www.jasmineway.co.uk).
Clever hideaway: Keeping valuables hidden can be tricky in halls of residence, so a safe disguised as a dictionary is a wizard idea. Dictionary Book Safe, £12.99, from Getting Personal (www.gettingpersonal.co.uk).
Take note: The key to student style is combining functionality with the cool factor. Handy for reminders of lecture or party times (and friends can leave notes), a Speech Bubble shaped notice board, £34.95, from Goodwin and Goodwin, ticks both boxes (020 8829 8945/www.goodwinandgoodwin.com).
All the gear: If they’re moved into a shared house they’ll probably need the full room kit. A Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen Mission Control desk from Very, £129, is ideal, and their Powder Coated Metal chair makes a great addition, £69 (www.very.co.uk).
A Sapporo Tall Desk from Marks & Spencer is handy and compact, £199 (0845 302 1234/www.marksandspencer.com).
For sleepovers or family visits check out John Lewis’s Patriot Union Jack sofa bed, £499 (0845 6049 049/www.johnlewis.com).
Get it clocked: Time flies when you’re having fun but students don’t want to be missing too many lectures. A Waldo Pancake Wall Clock from Getting Personal will help them keep to their timetable and raise a smile, £9.99 (0845 217 6382/www.gettingpersonal.co.uk).
Ring in style: Encourage them to regularly call home (or at least text) with a fun cushion featuring a retro-style handset. Tesco’s F&F home Telephone Print Cushion is super fun, £7.96 (www.tesco.com/direct).
Smart snoozing: A bed’s inevitably a focal point in a compact student room, so jazz it up with bedlinen and you’re halfway there in the instant decor process.
Grey ‘Hot off the press’ bedding set, from £35, and ‘Quiet Please’ cushion, £25, are both by Ben de Lisi for Debenhams (www.debenhams.com).
Tidy solution: Keep clutter cleared away with a quirky Giant Bulldog Clip magazine rack from The Contemporary Home, £44.99 (0239 246 9400/www.tch.net).
Ikea’s KASSETT cardboard CD boxes with lids are also ideal, £2.99 for a pack of two (www.ikea.com).
Shine a light: If they’re spending long hours poring over books they need a good light. There’s a dazzling array around which needn’t break the bank.
Tesco’s Alfie Anglepoise black desk lamp is a retro bargain, £24.96 (www.tesco.com/direct).
B&Q’s cunning Soft Pen Pot desk lamp doubles up as a pen holder, £14.98, and their Idea Bulb Shape table lamp could help get the creative juices flowing, £19.98 (0845 850 0175/www.diy.com).
Wash and brush up: Towels are another leaving-home essential, and Dunelm Mill’s So Soft Collection Zero Twist towels are cheap as chips, from 99p (0845 165 6565/www.dunelm-mill.com).
Brew time: While there’s probably a shared kitchen, having their own kettle is a bonus so they can make endless rounds of tea and coffee for themselves and mates.
Dunelm Mill’s Spectrum traditional kettle comes in funky colours, including raspberry, purple and lime, £24.99 (0845 1656 565/www.dunelm-mill.com).
Top table: A small table will never go amiss as a base for an extra lamp or a home for all those coffee cups, like this Lux lamp table from Dwell, £129 (0845 675 9090/www.dwell.co.uk).