With an increasing number of us renting homes due to rising house prices and a more fluid approach to work and careers, we thought it would be useful to give you some suggestions for ways to brighten up your rental. We all want our home to feel like a place of safety, happiness and comfort but this can be harder to achieve if you don’t own the property. Many landlords are open to discussions about home improvement and making changes, so first off we would recommend talking to them and seeing what they will allow you to do. You could suggest that if they cover the cost of paint, for example, you will provide the labour. So, if your rented home is feeling a bit drab and uncared for, or just doesn’t feel like ‘you’, here are some simple things you can do, whether you are planning on staying for a long time or are feeling more temporarily at home.
1. If your rental is furnished, consider putting away any of the things that just don’t fit with your aesthetic – either safely in a shed or a proper storage unit. Things like curtains can often look worse-for-wear, especially if they have been faded by the sun or not properly looked after. Invest in some new curtains in neutral colours so you can take them with you to your next place if you move. They can work miracles in freshening up a room. Think about finding a unifying theme for your furniture (say, vintage eclectic or modern minimalist) and put away things that really jar with that theme. Rummage in flea markets or go to trusty Ikea for affordable new pieces.
2. Replace the shower curtain. Old shower curtains can be gross, so make replacing yours one of the top things on your list. A bright new one will instantly smarten up your bathroom and distract the eye from any less-than-desirable fittings (avocado suite anyone?). We love this one made from ethically produced non-toxic fabric and customised with a cool bear image, and this washable beauty.
3. Paint everything white. If your landlord is ok with you repainting, a quick lick of fresh white paint will transform your rental into a bright, airy-feeling space. Most walls in high traffic rooms need painting every couple of years, but this sometimes gets neglected in rented homes. Or they are painted but in dated magnolia. White paint is like a face lift for your walls.
4. Buy some new bedding. The bed is usually the focal point of a bedroom, so you need to make sure it looks lovely. Even if the rest of the room is not to your taste, or needs some TLC, a set of luxurious linen bedlinen will lift the whole room to a new level. And, of course, you can take it with your when you move. Go for neutral colours that will work with any decor scheme, or choose something bright and clashy for a pop of colour.
5. Plants are a cheap and simple way to bring life into a rented home. From large architectural plants to pots of beautiful succulents, they not only look fab but they help to purify the air too.
6. Use shelving to display personal objects and inject your personality into a space. You could install pretty plywood shelves or remove the doors on kitchen cupboards to show off your ceramics and jars of dried goods. If you have permission and are planning on staying some time, consider a kitchen revamp like Hannah Bullivant did on her rented home with a limited budget and gorgeous results. Temporary, or movable, shelving is also a great, versatile option and can be a statement piece in any room. We love this modular tower shelving. Best of all, you get to take it away when you move out.
7. Consider wall decals, temporary murals or contact paper to add a personal touch to tiles or cabinets. There’s a huge range of colours and designs to choose from, and they are a brilliant way to play with decoration without committing to repainting.
8. Cover unsightly carpets or flooring with a beautiful rug. This can transform a room, as well as adding warmth and homeliness to your space.
9. Fresh flowers – whether foraged, grown or bought – always make a house feel like a home. A jar of simple wildflowers or heady-scented sweet peas in summer and pots of narcissi in the winter will add life and joy to your space.