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Brighten up your rental property on a budget

Posted on 2016-06-23

Summer is here...well, sort of. Whatever happens with the Great British weather, as always there'll be lots to do in the capital over the next few months from festivals and roof-top bars to street food events and that 'naked restaurant'.

When you're not doing all or some of the above, your attentions may turn to your rental property and how you can give it a summer spruce-up.

As spending money on the finer things in life is much more fun, we've compiled some tips on how you can brighten up your rental home without breaking the bank...

Up-cycling and recycling

It may be something that you thought was the preserve of the hipster, but up-cycling really can have an uplifting effect on your rental home.

If you've not come across it before, up-cycling is the act of reinvigorating old pieces of furniture and homely items by changing or redecorating them. You don't have to be an interiors specialist to have fun (and success) with this, all it takes is a bit of willing and perseverance.

For beginners, it's probably best to start small. If you look around charity shops, markets and auctions you'll find lots of cheap knick-knacks which are ideal for up-cycling. You could try taking the hem off an old lampshade or repainting an old wooden chair in a bright colour.

Once you start to build up some confidence you can take it to the next level by changing household items' raison d'être. You could turn an old, deteriorating suitcase into a shoe rack or some vintage glass bottles into vases or ornaments.

When you really get into the swing of things, you can start 'up and up cycling' your furniture. This trend within a trend entails buying new furniture on the cheap and modifying it to make it look vintage and unique.

Up-cycling is fun, cheap and can be a good way of spending quality time with your housemates. One of the best things about it is that you can do as much or as little as you like, dipping your toe (or brush) into the paint to add some colour or going full-on and getting the whole toolbox and the sand paper out to completely modify something.

There's plenty of websites offering up-cycling advice and inspiration, one of the best is Upcycle That.

Flower markets

If you're thinking about brightening up your home, one of the first things that's likely to spring to mind is flowers and plants. They may not last forever, but flowers and plants can provide a relatively affordable way of giving your home a timely and effervescent boost.

In the capital we're blessed with one of the best-known flower markets in the country (if not the continent). Columbia Road flower market takes place every Sunday on Columbia Road, situated in Bethnal Green.

If you want the best flowers, you're advised to turn up early, although 8am on a Sunday sounds potentially demanding. If, on the other hand, you just want some cheap flowers to brighten up your room, you can turn up around the more realistic time of 2pm and get some bargains as vendors try to offload stock before the market closes at 3pm.

As well as the floral spectacle, Columbia Road is a cracking afternoon out – there's independent cafés and shops galore and a generally vibrant and uplifting atmosphere.

There's other flower markets in London, too – the one at New Covent Garden Market is probably the next best-known.

Rearrange and re-jig

If you're really skint, there are a few things you can do which don't cost anything at all. The most obvious and often the most effective, is having a good old-fashioned rearrange. You'll come across this method in plenty of good housekeeping magazines and that's because it works.

There's no exact science, sometimes just moving a desk or shelf can have an unexpectedly profound effect on a room's feel or spaciousness.

One tried and tested method is the 'get rid of one thing' policy. It's a bit cliché, but removing one item from a room can have an instant impact.

Other things to remember are that sofas that sit in front of windows often fade due to sunlight and living rooms that are organised with the television as a focal point can often feel dark and enclosed.

If you're feeling particularly architectural, you could draw up a mini floor plan. This could open your eyes to some of the inhibiting and unnecessary arrangements you've currently got in place and a few subsequent tweaks could help to brighten up and refresh a space.

Charity shopping and auctions

It may sound obvious but heading to charity shops is one sure fire way of picking up some items to brighten up your home that won't cost an arm and a leg.

If you go to traditionally wealthy areas, think Hampstead or Chelsea, you're quite likely to find some really high-end gear in local charity shops. It may cost a bit more than your usual charity shop trinket but it could well be of a very high quality and worth significantly more than its price tag.

There are also charity shops dotted around which exclusively offer furniture. You can get some real bargains in these outlets – often run by the British Heart Foundation – and, who knows, you could pick out some great items to sate your new-found appetite for up-cycling!

Perhaps a path a little less trodden is the one leading to the auction room. There's plenty of household auctions taking place across the capital each week and they provide an opportunity to pick up some really weird and wonderful alternative items, often for peanuts.

Auctions are also great fun, interesting and 'quintessentially British'. There's regular auctions in Greenwich, Southwark, Tooting, Fulham and many more locations and if you've never been to one, we'd really recommend that you do.

Think outside the box

Being creative and having some fun is important when sprucing up your home – it's a win-win if you make your rental property more inviting and have a laugh at the same time.

It can pay to do some things off the cuff, if you have an idea or see something in a shop that you quite like, just go with it rather than Googling to see if 'it's a thing'.

One thing that can make a big difference to the ambience of your home is the curtains and blinds. This is something you're likely to have to run past your landlord, but if you get the OK then some new curtains could make a big change in any room in your rental property.

Think about the different lengths and how different colours and styles can complement the décor of a room to add extra brightness and maximise light.

If you're looking for something cheap or vintage, eBay is a good place to start, there's also some firms which specifically sell curtain offcuts and ends of lines so you could easily pick up something which is a little different and doesn't cost much.

What's more, when it comes to improving furniture on a budget you'll be surprised at just how far some tester paint can go. You can summon your inner artist to use paint effects and patterns to remodel some of your belongings and give your home a quirky, contemporary feel.

These are just a couple of ideas to get you going, 'thinking outside the box' could help your room to feel less like a box and more like a hive of creativity and style.

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