As someone with a history of being a serial renter, I am firm believer in saying yes to renovating your rental. Decorating a rental often gets a bad rep, as thought it is somehow less than decorating a home you own. Not true!
Not owning affords you the opportunity to invest in furniture pieces you’ve always wanted, without the worry of mortgage payments, the emergency savings fund and saving for a new kitchen, like your home-owning friends might have to. You can rest safe in the knowledge that if your washing machine breaks down – hey, it’s not your problem.
Renting has its perks (zero responsibility for maintenance costs) and it’s lows (living in sucky apartments/homes with ugly finishes and bad design). I’m a firm believer that you should always plan to decorate your rental, even if in small temporary ways.
Sure, you may not live there for long (you may not live in a home you own for long either), but ignoring the things you dislike about your home is a sure fire way of feeling miserable every time you walk in the door.
It also should go without saying that making changes doesn’t have to be expensive, and knowing your budget doesn’t have to be limiting. Rather use your budget as an opportunity to get creative and decide where you want to splurge (the statement rug or artwork) and save (by painting that room yourself).
These are a few of our used and used again top tips for renovating your rental.
Get permission and don’t bill the landlord
Although I’m not always known for following this very important rule (ahem), it is in the best interest of your deposit to get approval in writing first – even if the approval is simply that you will change everything back to the way it was when you leave. Often if you are making improvements to an apartment a landlord will be very open to it, and even better if the next set of tenants love the changes and want to keep it all too. At my last rental apartment, the new tenants loved it all so much they actually asked to buy my furniture along with renting the apartment.
If you landlord is a little more sticky and you plan to remove the circa 1983 lampshade from your living room I strongly recommend storing said lampshade safely for when you leave so that you can return the rental to its original state.
First things first, do a proper clear out. Packing away currently displayed objects and removing all clutter will immediately give you a new perspective on your space and the look of your room, as well rearranging the furniture.
I’d also recommend living in this emptier space for a couple of weeks to see what fresh ideas come to you during this time and which treasured objects you truly yearn to see again. There is nothing wrong with objects living in storage boxes for 6 months or year, before coming to light again
If your landlord hasn’t given your new digs a fresh coat of paint, this is one of the easiest and most cost effective ways to personalise your space.
Whether you decide to paint yourself or hire someone to do it for you, painting a room brings you the biggest return for your money. Is it also the easiest to bring back to neutral.
Just remember to keep pictures and note the colours of the before spaces, incase you need to change it all back later.
LIGHT UP YOUR HOME
Lighting is often the worst feature in a rental. Can you say hello boob light?! (Read our post here on the boob light and upgrade alternatives)
Luckily swapping out a shade or two isn’t difficult. Great lighting creates a cosy and welcoming feeling, and is also something that dresses up a room. These days good quality lighting fixtures are readily available from many retailers, at a fraction of the cost of designer pieces. Whether you decide on replacing the ceiling shade, or adding a standing flooring lamp, think of lighting as the jewellery to your room.
Cabinet hardware is easy to change. Just make sure you find pieces with the same hole spacing so you don’t have to drill additional holes into the cabinets. Whether you opt for contemporary black options or leather pulls for a lovely texture, don’t forget to keep the old one’s somewhere safe, to switch out when you move on.
You can take this one step further by swapping out bathroom fixtures or even kitchen fixtures. Not happy with the quality of my shower head in a former rental, I bought a lovely new fixture which changed the game in my bathroom. When I moved I simply unscrewed it, put the old one back and took my shower head with me to my new home.
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MAKE USE OF RUGS
A good area rug or runner will cover a multitude of flooring sins. Rugs are perfect for unifing different spaces, and bring colour and texture to a room. They are also yours forever, so find something you really like.
USE CUSHIONS TO ADD COLOUR AND TEXTURE
Cushions are an affordable and easy solution to finessing a space. Once you’ve identified your colour scheme, bringing cushions in differeing shades and patterns to dress your room up or down. When adding your décor items it is important to use varying textures and layers to make a room feel warm and inviting.
USE HOUSE PLANTS AND FRESH FLOWERS
Need to fill an awkward space? Plants in stylish containers can be the missing piece to your décor puzzle. Bringing the outdoors in also immediately adds life to any room. It will take your space from rental to home.
This is an edited version of a post which originally appeared on The Home Studio in September 2017.