Whilst most rental agreements will insist upon minimal changes to the property itself, there’s still a huge number of things you can do to personalise and customise your living space to make it a little more homey.
1. Match colours
The best way to make a room feel like it’s tied together is to pick colours that work well together and keep them as a central theme. Obviously you can’t paint the walls of your rental property, or change the carpets or flooring. However, by adding accents of complimentary colours in the items you can
control, like curtains, picture frames, candles or rugs, you can give a ‘complete’ feel to a room.
2. Make with the paint
We’ve already said you can’t paint the walls, but there’s no reason you can’t paint your own items! By painting a coffee table a bold colour, or using a stencil to add patterns to a wardrobe or chest of drawers, you can add vibrancy and personality to a room. Just be sure to put down coverings so there’s no chance you’ll get paint anywhere, and always ventilate any room you’re painting in.
3. Removable wall stickers
The renter’s greatest friend – wall stickers. Removable, leaving no marks on your walls and an easy way to make a room more personal. Stickers mean you can easily create a feature wall that stands out and looks like it’s painted. They’re also great for kids’ rooms!
4. Cushions, rugs and throws, oh my!
The easiest way to make a room look interesting is to layer – make your sofa, chair or bed look comfortable and relaxing by piling up cushions of different patterns, textures and sizes. Cover up grim, worn carpets or creaky floorboards with a thick, plush rug. Use throws to add texture to sofas and chairs (and they come in handy in the winter when you want to cut down on your heating bill!).
5. Stylish space saving
If there’s one thing most places are always short on, it’s storage. If you’re not lucky enough to have built in wardrobes, you might have to get creative with places to put your stuff. Bookcases have endless opportunities to be customised – you can line their backing boards with wrapping paper or paint the underside of the shelves to give a pop of colour. Even the way you arrange your books can be a show of personality, piling them up or arranging them by colour.
Bathrooms in rental properties are often short on storage space, so as well as a caddy for the shower or bath where you can neatly store your shampoo, a back of the door hanger than can store items is always going to be welcome, especially if you can’t fit a freestanding cupboard in there.
Look for items that double up as hidden storage, like chests that can be used as coffee tables, or hollow stools and benches that can be filled with stuff.
6. Light it up
Even the saddest little space can be transformed with the right light. Whether it’s a free standing lamp, updating tired lampshades, replacing bulbs or using candles, offering a variety of accent and ambient lighting will make your home a relaxing place to be. Be sure to include good light in rooms where you'll need it, and in rooms with limited natural light - it will make spaces feel bigger.
If you do decide to replace the lightbulbs, be sure to keep the ones that were already in place – your landlord’s EPC will have been assessed and the energy efficiency of the lighting will have been taken into account. Put these back at the end of your tenancy.
7. Go green
Adding some greenery to your rented home is always a good idea. Whether it’s green leafy plants that require little maintenance and will help clean the air, succulents in colourful pots, terrariums or bright bunches of flowers that draw the eye, there is so much you can do with plants.
8. Switch out your shower curtain
It can be hard to personalise bathrooms, beyond adding an injection of colour with some towels and a bathmat, but why not change that bland shower curtain for something colourful or patterned?
9. Know the purpose
You know what your room is for – if you like having guests round for dinner, then create a welcoming environment with enough seats for around the table. If you are more of a party person, have an open layout to your living space, if you’re a bookworm, create a comfortable nook with lamps, blankets and easy access to your bookshelf. Each part of your home will serve a purpose, so design it with that in mind.
10. Tilt, lean…just don’t hang
Okay, so you can’t hang things on the walls, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make use of floor space. Leaning a large mirror against a wall will open up the room, reflect light and can be a great feature. Smaller images in frames can be put on windowsills or bureaus that lean against walls. Also, don’t forget that you can use your furniture to hang things from, like the side of your book case.
11. Make it about you
The best way to make your space feel like home is to fill it with things that represent you. Items that have memories attached, fun magnets on the fridge, photographs of friends and family. Whilst designing your living space can be expensive and take a lot of thought, making it 'you' and choosing things that bring you joy will make it feel more like a home.
Updated February 2020