Whether you’re in a flat that needs some fancy flourishes or a house that could do with some hygge, it’s worth taking some time to create a space that feels like home.
Even though the property is your landlord’s, it’s possible to add some simple additions to make it somewhere that belongs to you too. With some straightforward changes and a few easy updates, it will go from a plain white box to your own space in no time.
For inspiration, here are our top tips to help you enhance every room.
Know what you can do
Before you begin reimagining your rental property, make sure you know what you’re allowed to change. Some landlords will be happy for you to replace the magnolia walls with a deep purple, while others may prefer you to make some less-permanent alterations.
Unless it says in your Tenancy Agreement that you can, always check first with your landlord before carrying out any permanent redecorating. Not doing so could leave you with a costly bill to foot out of your deposit as your landlord puts things back to their original condition.
If you’re planning on sticking to a neutral palette, you’re more likely to get the green light from your landlord. A rental property will often have grey or cream colour schemes. This is because they are a blank canvas for tenants, plus they are timeless tones that don’t have to fit in with the latest home décor trends. Some landlords may agree to a stronger colour scheme on the proviso you return the property to the original colour when you leave, but it’s best to check first before assuming.
The key is getting your landlord on side. They may be open to some changes if they have confidence your taste in colours won’t put off future tenants and that you’ll do it to a good standard. Or you could offer to pay for a professional to do the work.
When you put your ideas to your landlord, try going to them with the complete list of updates you have in mind. Whilst they might not be too keen on you repainting the living room, they might be happy for you to hang some prints on the walls. Most landlords want to keep their tenants happy, so it’s worth opening a dialogue. Keep an open mind, and if they say no to one thing, ask what they would be happy for you to do.
Make a list
Once you know what you can and can’t do to make things homely, you can start listing the things you’d like to add. Selecting the rooms you’d like to focus on is a good way to narrow down exactly what you need.
Prioritise. With any home improvement project, focus on the most important areas first, and try not to get distracted, leaving half-finished projects throughout! If making your bedroom cosier is a priority, envisage the room you’d like it to be before moving on to working on the living room and then the bathroom and kitchen. Make notes of the idea you have as you go so that you can get a clear picture of how you want it all to look.
Remember to budget
Now that you have a list of things you’d love to include, look at your finances so you can set aside some money to cover the cost of your reimagined rental home. Try and balance your spending between the things you can’t take with you when you leave, i.e. paint, wallpaper and the things you’ll take with you, such as cushions, pictures, mirrors, light shades, curtains/blinds, and so on, so that if you move on, you can take some of your investment with you.
While planning what you want to do with the property you’re currently renting, this is a great time to think ahead in case you decide to move to a different flat or house. You can select some wallet-friendly items that won’t break the bank to add cheer and some investment pieces that you might want to keep hold of. Here’s a good time to mention that you should consider appropriate Tenants Insurance Cover for your possessions.
With a firm idea of what you’d like to add to the space in your mind, you can head to the shops, or if you’re feeling particularly thrifty, why not scour the selling pages on Facebook, eBay or charity shops - you could even look to upcycle any preloved items.
Here are our top home décor items that can make an immediate impact:
From long, free-standing ones to opulently-designed wall-mounted ones, mirrors add light and depth to the tiniest rooms. There are plenty of options to choose from, so this is your chance to add your own personality to the space. Whether you love all things bling or you’re a fan of geometric shapes, you can take some time to pick your favourites and add them to the space.
Accessories are a simple way to inject your personality into the home. A rug, some cushions and a throw can instantly revamp a room, so make the most of your opportunity to add a colour scheme of your own.
Accessories give you the chance to really add some colour to any space and are an easy way of keeping up with the latest style trends. You can opt for luxurious metallics or vibrant primary colours, keep things muted with some deep blues and rich greens or go for bold prints.
Plants are also a much overlooked ‘accessory’. Real or fake, plants bring a wonderful sense of nature into a room. Real plants require a little bit of looking after, so if you’re not particularly green fingered, why not look to succulents, which are incredibly low-maintenance plants. If looking after a living thing really doesn’t appeal, a lovely bunch of silk flowers in a vase will not only bring a beautiful pop of colour into the room but will likely be indistinguishable from the real thing!
Lighting is a simple yet effective way to change the feel of a room. A well-positioned table lamp or a beautiful shade for the ceiling light can alter how things look and create a comfortable, homely feel. Plus, like your accessories, you can choose the lighting to your taste.
Lighting is one particularly creative area when it comes to design! Not just in style or colour but also practicality. A whole host of plug-in lights are available, from a free-standing floor lamp to a plug-in ‘wall light’ like these clever little stylish wall lights from Made.
Your choice of bulb can also dramatically change the feel of a room. Ideally, it would help if you chose the lowest wattage you need to save on electricity. Still, many fashionable light bulbs can completely transform your home into a seriously stylish space.
As well as allowing you to make a room relaxing, new lighting can change the dynamic of the space. Try to balance style with practicality; industrial style shade-free lights may be fashionable, but are they great for times when you’re trying to relax? Try moving a table lamp around the room to find the optimal position or consider illuminating areas that might usually be overlooked, but be sure not to create a trip hazard in the process.
As long as you carefully store the current curtains or blinds so you can put them back up when you move on, landlords will likely be happy for tenants to update the windows as they see fit.
If your landlord doesn’t mind you adding some curtains or blinds, you can choose some that fit your colour scheme. The right window dressing can be the perfect finishing touch that helps to bring a room together. As well as just aesthetics, window dressings serve a very practical function. From blocking out light to keeping in warmth or just stopping nosy passers-by, consider what you need from your window dressing from a practical point of view as well as style.
Double-check with your landlord before you start pinning things to the walls, but if you’re allowed to hang things up, then you have the opportunity to add some art. Head to local art stores and markets to see if you can pick up a bargain and think ahead to future properties. Beautiful art doesn’t have to be expensive as long as you like it and doesn’t necessarily have to be hung on a wall. If you’re restricted by what you can hang, why not look to a free-standing sculpture or piece you can admire from its place on your table or windowsill?
Most rental homes have relatively hard-wearing and neutral flooring solutions. Whether a natural carpet or laminate flooring, it’s probably been chosen for its practical and easy-to-maintain features over style. That doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it.
- Rugs were designed for just this! With a rug, you can add warmth, style, and colour. From budget-friendly IKEA rugs to something a little plusher, the only limit is your imagination.
- Alternatively, don’t like the kitchen or bathroom flooring, why not consider a lino rug? Relatively inexpensive, flexible so you can roll it up and take it when you leave, and incredibly hard-wearing, lino is an excellent option for providing a stylish cover-up solution to outdated floors. Just be careful to fix it in place, so you don’t cause a trip hazard without damaging the floor below. As with wall hangings, fixing solutions are available that will keep both you and your deposit safe.
Like investing in art, setting aside some of your budget for key pieces of furniture that you take with you if you move can be beneficial for both your current rental property and future properties. Think about the items you’d like to add and consider your options. Investing in quality pieces will likely last longer than a cheaper option. You could also upcycle or rehome a piece that’s just crying out for a lick of paint.
You can’t guarantee what storage you’ll have in your rental property. Investing in a few key pieces you can keep and take with you if you move means you’ll always have what you need and don’t have to risk being without. A few key pieces such as a bed with storage, wardrobe and chest of drawers may be your minimum requirements for all those essential clothes purchases. Or you may consider a bookcase a priority if you’re an avid book collector. The key takeaway is to buy storage that suits your needs.
Quick refresh tips
If you’re still trying to find some easy ways to walk the line between refreshing the apartment without making any permanent marks, here are some simple tricks to help you out:
Invest in some hanging strips to make an impact without making a mark. These are a great way to hang a mirror or that piece of art without damaging the wallpaper or paintwork.
Should your landlord not let you paint the walls, and you just can’t look at that strange mushroom colour anymore, consider adding some removable wallpaper to cover things up. A temporary wall decal is a brilliant invention that means you can choose your favourite print, stick it up and not worry about causing any damage. Plus, as most of the removable wallpaper on the market is made of vinyl, it’s easy to wipe it clean.
Easy-peel hooks are great for everything from hanging coats to photo frames. If your landlord isn’t sure about you adding curtains, you can compromise by using strong hooks that can hold your curtains up for as long as you live there.
Make it your own
While living in a rental, it’s worth making it feel like home. Feel free to add your own personality; even if you make some tiny changes, you’ll soon see how a few photos and a new throw can transform a room into a place you can call home.