Here are my rules when it comes to decorating student rooms:
1) Go crazy.
Not literally, of course... But decorate your room as much as you want! You will be writing thousands of words in this room, revising 'til the early hours, sleeping of many hangovers and possibly having a few visitors! You want this room to be fun and comforting! Take advantage of the fact its a short-term thing and treat it like that - try new things, new styles and new ways of decorating, have fun while you're young and in your first year at uni! We all know we will never get the deposit back! This is a photo from my first year room.
2) Get cosy
Student beds are usually pretty dreadful so I always load them up with mattress protectors and thrown a snuggly feather filled quilt on top with loads of throws and pillows. I think it's important to make the bed as cosy as possible as it really will encourage you to get that much deserved sleep after weeks of essay writing. I also use my bed as the main vocal point of my room, I try to make it up everyday to help my room look nicely made up. Which lets face it - can be difficult.
3) Be practical
If you're anything like me then getting ready for nights out/days out can turn my room into a complete mess with makeup, clothes, shoes and hair grips spread accross the floor. If you know you use your makeup/hair products lots then leave them out. I always make a makeup/hair station that's completely accessible in my room. There's no use tidying them into little draws when you will just be using them off the desk all week. Make your makeup area organised so that everything is easy to reach and most importantly - easy to put back.
Similarly if you know you won't be reading the books you brought to university - to make you look smart - then put them away, you know where they are if you want to read them but don't keep things out unless they are for decoration or if they are something you need. Most uni rooms are tiny so don't waste space by trying to look cool ;).
This is what will make your room transform. Usually we're given horrible bright, white lights that do no room any favours. I always get some fairy lights, a nice bedside lamp and nice candle holders to give the room a warmer colour and make the room feel lovely and cosy at night.
Stale, old, mouldy...? The usual smells for student rooms unfortunately, I always get a room diffuser - I use the oil ones where you put sticks in them to release a really nice gentle scent into the room. I'm not a huge fan of the fake 'apple' smelling things you plug into the wall personally. Pick a fragrance that suits you and disguises the natural smell of the room, also candles are great for this - Primark do some amazing vanilla candles that make my room smell sweet all day long.
6) Desk inspirations.
After a long night of revision the last thing I want to look up to is a blank wall, I always cover the wall in front of my desk in inspirational quotes, photos, newspaper clippings, postcards and a few photos of my nearest and dearest. Don't make it completely distracting but help make it an area that will inspire you and make you want to sit and do work.
7) Keep it private.
From my experience there will be alot of new faces coming in and out of your room at uni, and until you feel fully confident with who your living with keep certain things private. There's many reasons for this, the main one is that it's not like at home where the security of the house is taken care of by your parents. Any one of your housemates could forget to close their window, lock the door properly or forget to put their laptop out of sight. Lots of people take advantage of students forgetting to lock up properly so keep things you want safe out of sight and make sure to lock everything properly. Better safe than sorry.