The number of households renting has more than doubled since 2001, with 20% of the population now living as private tenants. More of us than ever live in homes we don’t physically own, but this doesn’t mean the space shouldn’t feel like our own.
One of the common constraints facing renters is the inability to furnish and decorate, with many landlords prohibiting tenants from making any major changes to the property. Whether you’ve signed a year’s lease or a long-term agreement, finding ways to create a homely environment in rented properties is essential for elevating your entire living experience.
Looking to personalise your home without risking your deposit? Marlena Kaminska, designer at ValueLights shares six designer-approved and rental-friendly ways to make even the starkest of spaces feel homely.
1. Create the illusion of a larger space
In the past 50 years, the average master bedroom has shrunk by 27 sq ft, from 169 sq ft to 142 sq ft. For those renting as part of a houseshare, the chance of drawing the master room is even slimmer meaning, in reality, many renters are faced with even smaller bedroom spaces to work with.
Luckily, there are plenty of visual design tricks you can employ to make a room feel more spacious.
Marlena says: “Lighting is an incredibly useful tool when it comes to crafting a sense of space. A great trick to make a room seem bigger is to create a vertical path of vision; using long pendant lights will draw the eye upwards, bringing attention to the height of the room rather than the width.
2. Introduce freestanding accessories
While your landlord may prohibit you from physically installing shelving or hanging artwork, there are plenty of ways to furnish a home that don’t require hammering nails into the wall.
Being adaptable to different spaces, freestanding furniture is the perfect choice for renters, especially when faced with unalterable structural features. Whether it be a clothes rail in the bedroom or a living-room bookcase, many of these pieces have dual benefits for your space as both savvy-storage solutions and visual displays for your most-loved items and adding your personality into your home.
Marlena adds: “Outside of its practicality, freestanding furniture also adds visual interest to your rooms through the scale and texture it can bring. For example, incorporating a large arching floor lamp to a living room creates shape and dimension without requiring any structural adjustments.”
“Floor lamps and table lamps are one of the greatest accessories in a renter’s arsenal – not only can they be flexibly configured in your home, but when it comes to moving out, they are also relatively easy to transport.”
If you’re staying in a short-term lease, it’s important to consider this practicality; the heavier and larger the item, the less flexible it will be!
3. Choose what to disguise and what to emphasise
Moving into a rental property comes with an acceptance of the home’s features (and often furniture)-the good, the bad and the ugly! The trick to decorating a rental home is knowing which parts to emphasise, and what’s best disguised.
Rugs can be used to hide any old flooring, and decorative throw cushions and blankets are great for bringing life back to tired sofas. Alternatively, if you’re faced with distinct features which can’t simply be hidden, instead put your efforts into complementing these pieces.
It’s equally important to draw attention to the parts of your home which you do like. Always try to identify a standout feature in your home, maybe this is a bay window, a fireplace installation or simply a piece of artwork you love, and then work to highlight this.
“A really simple way to draw attention to these features is through lighting. Consider downlighting any artwork or adding table lamps to structural features to create focal points in the areas of your home that you admire the most”
4. Prioritise Ambience
When creating a space to call home, it’s important to focus on how each room feels, not just how it looks. Prioritising ambience will allow you to create positive associations with your space – the key to transforming a house into a home.
Marlena says “Lighting is one of the most important factors to consider when thinking about the ambience of a room. On first moving into a new property, we would always suggest assessing the lighting conditions in each room. Take note of how much natural light each space gets and ensure this is properly supplemented with artificial light.
“Switching light bulbs is a simple and inexpensive way to change the whole vibe of a room. For rooms in which you want to create a cosy ambience, ensure all lighting uses warm-toned bulbs to emphasise a snug atmosphere.”
Rearranging furniture according to feng-shui principles, scent-scaping your home and careful consideration of lighting are all rent-friendly ways to add your own stamp to any property.
5. Make micro improvements
While easily overlooked, making small cosmetic improvements to your rental home can make a real difference to how you feel about the space.
Marlena says, “Give some TLC to the forgotten areas of your home that likely haven’t been upgraded for years. Micro-improvements such as swapping your showerhead, replacing crusty outlet covers and putting up new lampshades are subtle changes which can make all the difference to your living experience.”
“While your landlord will appreciate like-for-like replacements for products of a newer finish, if you’re swapping out any fixtures for aesthetic purposes alone, be sure to store the originals in a cupboard so you can reinstall them upon moving out.”
6. Liaise with your landlord
Remember, every landlord is different and some may be more lenient on certain decorating rules. If you’re desperate to repaint a wall or hang a shelf, it’s always first worth asking if this would be permitted!
If you’re in a long-term tenancy agreement, consider requesting decorating agreements to be added to your tenancy. Similarly, assuring your landlord that you will refill holes and touch-up paint may help sway them to allow you greater furnishing freedoms.
If you do make any requests ensure you get approved changes in writing to protect both you and your deposit.
For more interior tips and decor inspiration, visit: https://www.valuelights.co.uk/blog