So you’ve found a nice property, in a convenient area and with a low rent, and have just undertaken the mammoth task of moving into it.
However, once settled in, the typical muted decor and neutral colours of a rental property mean that it just doesn’t feel like home. What’s more, you’ve spent a small fortune along the way, and your bank account’s feeling a little empty.
So what do you do when you want to inject your personality into a rented home on a tight budget, without any permanent damage or the risk of losing your deposit?
1. Don’t be afraid of second hand stuff
There are lots of ways to get cool, unique looking furniture and accessories on a budget – whatever your tastes. Keep an open mind and think creatively when looking for second hand bargains, a lick of paint and some new handles can be all you need to take an old chest of drawers from ‘blah’ to ‘ta-dah’!
Photo credit: In My Own Style
As well as obvious routes such as second hand shops, car-boots and eBay, there are plenty of other ways to source bargain furniture.
Try signing up to sites like Gumtree or Freecycle, where you will find local people giving away old belongings either at a knock-down price or even totally free! Just make sure the seller is willing to deliver for free or that you can pick it up yourself easily.
2. Make it cosy
Often, rented properties have been decorated in neutral colours – which give you a perfect blank canvas to work with. Small things, such as scatter cushions, throws and rugs can totally transform a room and make it feel instantly more ‘you’. Try to stick to two or three key bright colours for a pulled together, yet individual, look.
Photo credit: Thrift and Style
If you have basic sewing skills and a machine, it can often be much cheaper (and more satisfying) to make your own cushion covers and curtains – try visiting a local home furnishings store or flea market to see if they have any off cuts of funky material in the bargain bin. No sewing skills? Try discount stores and eBay for gorgeous soft furnishings at a snip.
3. Let your true colours show
Once you’ve got the basics sorted, it’s time to get arty! There’s nothing that makes a space ‘yours’ quite like some fabulous prints and unique accessories.
There are a whole host of shops that sell cheap canvases and prints. However, you can also download and print free artwork at the click of the mouse – try typing ‘free artwork’ into Google and see what you find. Some cheap frames are all you need to complete the look. Why not try sourcing lots of frames and painting them in one colour for a unique twist?
Photo credit: Desire to Inspire
If your landlord doesn’t allow you to hang pictures on the walls, try propping them on a mantelpiece or side table, they’ll look just as effective and can be easily moved as the mood takes you.
As for accessories – pop down to your local thrift stores or car boot sale and hunt for some individual pieces that suit your personal style. For a fun day out with friends, you could set a budget and make it into a Bargain Hunt style competition.
4. Storage is your friend
New place lacking the space to display all your new treasures? Dual-function storage can be a lifesaver when space is at a premium.
Ikea sell some fantastic, cheap solutions to this problem, such as shoe cupboards that double as sideboards and mirrors that store jewellery – freeing up valuable room to put more stylish items on show.
Photo credit: Ikea Hackers
You could try asking your landlord how they feel about you putting up a few wall shelves. Many are fine with this, if you ask first, and only stipulate that you fill in the holes when you leave.
If they say no, don’t worry. Free-standing shelves look just as good and have the added benefit of space on top, which just gives you more room to display your accessories. But be careful to read the product details, some taller shelves still have to be attached to the wall for safety.
So get creative, look in the right places and you’ll be able to make that rented space your own in no time. What’s more, by not adding anything permanent, it’ll be just as easy to recreate the same unique look in any property you rent or own over the years. Plus, by sticking to a budget, it’s easy to add to and change the way your place looks to your heart’s content.