Living in rented accommodation has plenty of perks. It gives you more freedom and the opportunity to live in an area that you mightn’t be able to afford right now if you were looking to buy.
The one major downside of renting is not being able to decorate your home as you want. However, there are plenty of ways to upgrade your rental without breaking your budget or your landlord’s heart. Some even barely require breaking a sweat.
Invest in a few key pieces
Pick a few pieces of furniture to take centre stage in your place. The worst thing you can do in a small space is clutter it with lots of little things. Invest in a handful of large pieces that you absolutely adore and can take with you, like a sofa, bed, and storage unit. A single, beautifully deisgn piece can do so much to elevate a space.
Rugs hide all manner of sins. They can add a portable pop of colour, cover hideous laminate flooring and don’t require any height, pretty necessary for small space living. Choose something with a neutral tone over all, that way it can move with you from place to place and fit in with any wall colour or furniture.
Ikea Alrum rug
If you’re in this place for the long run, consider investing in new cabinet doors. Much cheaper than replacing the whole kitchen, it will give your kitchen an immediate facelift. Most kitchen places can build cabinet doors to your specifications, and if your kitchen carcass is Ikea, Plykea and Reform have lots of ready-made as well as bespoke doors, handle and leg options that will have neighbour’s wondering where you got the high-end kitchen from. And you can take them with you if you decide to move on.
However, if this place is just a stepping stone to bigger and hopefully more permanent things, then simply change up the handles. Changing this small thing can make a massive difference to the space and really bump up a kitchen’s luxury feel. Changing the taps too can also really take the rented taint off a kitchen, and you can always remove it and pop back on the old one before you move out.
Bring the outside in
It might seem like an overcooked trend at the moment, but indoor greenery has long been a great way to enliven a space. Adding texture and movement to a corner, consider oxygenating plants like aloe vera or spider plants that will clean your home’s air as well as looking pretty.
Ferm Living Plant Boxes
Tile and wall decals
Brighten up sad bathrooms and kitchens with tile decals. Available as individual tiles or to cover entire walls and floors, it’s a simple, cost-effective way to add some fun into functional spaces that are tricky to decorate. Beija Flors is a range of floor mats, splashbacks, tile stickers, and table runners made of a practical, washable, lino-like material that’s easily removed. Designed to replicate intricate tile patterns, they’re ideal for under for under the dining table or behind the kitchen sink.
One of the many banes of rented living is not being able to hang artwork where you would like to. Instead, you’re left with hiding the landlord’s sun-bleached prints in order to hang your own, slightly out of line works.
If you’re living in a period property, don’t forget to use the picture rail, that line of cornicing along the wall a few feet from the ceiling. You can get curled hooks to latch on and hang pieces from. For more recent builds, 3M command strips are pricey, but are worth their weight in gold. They come off the wall easily, won’t mark, will hold whatever you’re trying to hang and are very easy to use. A few of them will also hold up a thin picture shelve, perfect for living up some work above a sofa or desk
Oak picture shelf, Woo .Design
Add some depth to your space by putting a bookcase along one wall. Keep it neat by assigning different shelves a purpose, i.e. don’t mix books and plants and, if you get bored one Sunday evening, you can always colour code it. It’ll give all those small knick-knacks a home and add instant personality to your space. If your space is low on natural light, consider a metal bookshelf that will allow light through, like this one from The Conran Shop.
Krossing shelving unit, The Conran Shop
This is one of the oldest tricks in the book for making a small room appear larger but it still holds true. They’ll also reflect natural light into a space, opening it up. A large mirror tucked behind a favourite piece of furniture can put a natural spotlight on it, and they work just as well leaned against a wall. Or, put them behind a lamp or candle to enhance the flame’s flicker around the room.
Featured photography by H&M Home.