Just because you don’t own the property you live in doesn’t mean you can’t make your surroundings feel like home. Our home interior has a bigger impact on us than we realise, so investing a little to make it work is something you will not regret. From choice of lighting, to carefully selected pieces of furniture, it’s easier than you think to personalise your rented home – without compromising your lease agreement.
I had friends who were renting a small flat in Kings Cross, which was more of an address than a home. With an arrangement with their landlord they made some improvements that they offset against the rent. One furiously busy bank holiday weekend and a lot of paint later the flat was completely transformed into a gorgeous home. Before they did the work they were reluctant to invite friends over or spend any time there, but once they had put their own stamp on the place they enjoyed entertaining and hanging out at home.
If you can get permission from your landlord, repainting is the best way to completely transform any room. If painting walls isn’t an option there are other ways to bring colour into your rented home. Accessories are another way to create your own look. Rugs, cushions and art works are all things that can be taken with you when you leave. These will make the property feel like yours and help bring some of your own personality into it.
The other issue when renting is having to put up with things that you cannot change, like floors,for example. An inexpensive way to have a large rug made up is to have a piece of carpet cut to size and then have it edged in a contrasting colour. Most carpet suppliers will be able to do this for you. Layering rugs is another great way to conceal a not-so-good-looking floor, as well as adding texture and colour.
Mirrors are a great way to cover up walls – the bigger the better. I invested in a large floor mirror when I lived in a one- bed apartment years ago. It worked to give the effect of doubling the room and has travelled with me over the years and now resides in my family room.
Displaying your own artworks and photos are what really makes a place feel like home. Hanging art in your home with a single nail or a screw is an acceptable practice in most rentals. But if you are not allowed to hang anything on the walls, use surfaces like a mantelpiece, mantel, open shelving, or the top of a cabinet to display art and decorative pieces.
Lighting is a key factor to control atmosphere in a space – something which many rentals lack. Even the best-styled room will look flat under inadequate lighting. If your scheme relies on bare bulbs or outdated pendants, replace the shades. Opt for different sources of lighting by using a mix of table and floor lamps to allow you to control the lighting levels in your home.
Opt for furniture that can be moved around and reconfigured so it can more easily fit into another home. As an example, instead of a sofa with a chaise, which limits the possible configurations and therefore may not work in your future home, opt instead for a simple sofa and an armchair or footstool, which will provide you with the same seating space but will retain flexibility with the layout.
When you are planning your updates do bear in mind that you will only be living there temporarily, and you probably can’t turn it into your dream house – but that’s okay because it’s not your house, after all. So do the best you can to make your house a home. Spend some time and money to put your personal stamp on your space. After that, just relax and enjoy the fact that if your boiler breaks or the dishwasher stops working you can just pick up the phone and call someone fix it, and pay for it!