There can be a number of caveats when it comes to decorating a rented property, as many landlords don’t allow for any permanent changes to be made to their properties (these setbacks are more applicable to private renting rather than social housing). The degree of changes that can be made really does depend on the landlord – some are happy to allow rooms to be painted or slightly altered providing you return the property to its original state.
So what’s a good way to add personality to your rented home without risking your deposit? Take a look at these simple ideas.
1. Buy houseplants
You can never have too many houseplants. Indoor plants can brighten up a room, bring a space to life and, help to boost your overall health and wellbeing. The Swiss Cheese Plant, Rubber Plant, Kentia Palm and the Peace Lily are just a few of our favourites.
The idea of creating indoor plant-filled jungles feeds in well with biophilia; humankind’s innate attraction to nature and natural processes. As House Beautiful’s wellbeing expert, Oliver Heath, explains: ‘It’s also about introducing natural materials, colours, textures, patterns and even technologies that evoke a feeling of nature, and remembering that our homes need to have spaces that energise, stimulate and connect us with each other, while being calming, relaxing and restorative.’
So how exactly can we use houseplants in this way in a rented home?
‘Try incorporating a ficus tree or rubber tree – they can give height to bare corners or can be placed behind a sofa,’ says Sabina Miller, Head of Buying at Heal’s. ‘Or if you want a plant that flowers, try the hoya plant. This plant will still be happy even if you forget to water it occasionally, and can still produce fragrant pink flowers.
‘I would also recommend growing a small herb garden, with a potted basil or rosemary plant, you’ll always have something fresh and organic to take any meal to the next level.’
2. Buy a statement rug
Do you have dull carpets, wooden floorboards or cheap linoleum flooring in your rented home? A statement rug can right some wrongs and change the look of a room, as well as keep the floor intact. Choose a rug that incorporates your favourite patterns and colours to show off some of your personality.
It’s important to note that the size of your space and furniture layout are the two main considerations when choosing a rug size. Avoid the common mistake of buying a rug that’s too small, Sabina warns. If you’re unsure or between sizes, go on the larger side for a final look that feels thoughtful instead of haphazard.
3. Invest in light fixtures
‘If you lack natural light, consider putting some lamps in the corner of the room,’ says Sabina. ‘You could choose a lamp that stands out to make it more of a feature piece, rather than just an accessory. When you’re restricted on what you can do, simple changes make all of the difference.’
Think about the function of light fixtures for different areas of the home. Table lamps create focused lights for reading in the bedroom, while in the living room, ‘floor and table lamps create an ambient glow during the evenings and help to anchor the overall scheme’, says Natalie Mann, New Product Development Co-Ordinator at Iconic Lights.
And opt for LED bulbs for your light fixtures; it’s a more sustainable feature that will last for around 10 to 15 years.
4. Transform the walls
Adding some colour to your rented home is a great way to make it feel a little more homely. Of course, check with your landlord about painting the walls before going ahead with it.
‘Incorporating some colour in your home adds style and personality, it enables you to have that homely feel instead of boring plain walls,’ explains Sabina. ‘Don’t forget to make note of the original colour of the walls as you may have to put it back to its original colour when you leave.’
We’d also recommend removable wallpaper as a perfect temporary wall covering that can really elevate your space – there are so many stylish designs available to buy, it’s generally damage-free, and with a ‘peel and stick’ action it can be removed and repositioned as often as you wish.
5. Opt for multifunctional furniture
Multifunctional furniture can save money and space, and can help to transform a room into different functions. Invest in smart, aesthetically pleasing furniture to adapt to your needs.
‘Multifunctional furniture also works wonders in a compact space – like a dining table which can be your work corner during the day and dining area at night,’ explains Rebecca Snowden, Interior Style Advisor at Furniture And Choice.
And if you are tight on space, think about furniture which is stackable, can fold away, or can store easily, from a nest of tables to stackable chairs.
And on that note, depending on your circumstances, you may want to rent furniture instead of buying it. John Lewis has partnered with the world’s largest product rental marketplace, Fat Llama, to offer a furniture rental service. Desks, chairs, dining tables and sofas are available to rent for 3, 6, or 12 months. Browse a range of furniture at flex.fatllama.com.
6. Create layers
Think of your particular space in terms of layers, and build it up with colour, textile, pattern, surface treatments, lighting, pictures, plants and books to bring character and warmth to the room.
‘Layers allow a house to feel lived in and homely,’ adds Sabina. ‘This is my favourite hack for instantly making a rental place feel like home, simply by adding soft furnishings like cushions, curtains, rugs and throws to corners of your home. If you’re not sure what to go for, find one dominant fabric that initially takes your eye, perhaps the curtains or rug. Then start layering by adding smaller-scale fabrics like cushions and lampshades.’
7. Choose stylish storage
Storage baskets are one of the best, and most stylish, living room storage ideas, but these baskets work well in bathrooms and bedrooms too. They have a fabulous tactile quality that adds character to a scheme and is a great way to hide clutter in a living area.
Sabina says belly baskets are particularly on trend, with the numerous patterns and shapes available ideal for incorporating into any layout. They can be used for storing blankets, magazines and plants.
8. Hang artwork, photographs and wall hangings (without nails)
Personal photos, your favourite art, and unique wall decor will instantly make a space feel more of your own, dramatically changing the atmosphere to give you a cosy and homely feel. You can use damage-free picture hanging strips (shop a range of Command hooks and strips via Amazon) and easily-removable tape to hang your frames without making a deposit-busting hole in the paintwork.
9. Make the most out of small outdoor spaces
Whether you have a balcony, small terrace or a tiny back garden, make the most of your outdoor space with a few simple touches. Embrace the ‘fifth room’, however small it may be, with some tactile furnishings. Outdoor rugs are a great way to make the outside more comfortable, colourful and inviting. Invest in foldable chairs or outdoor floor cushions for extra seating. And, for the green-fingered, start container gardening by simply using pots, hanging baskets, and troughs or window boxes.
And here’s a great outdoor lighting tip from the design team at BoConcept, who transformed the UNCLE Wembley residential apartments: ‘Outdoor lighting is a must to extend the view from the inside of your apartment out onto the terrace. Without lighting on the terrace the windows become a black mirror reflecting the interior back – use planter lights and floor standing lanterns to create pools of light.’
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