Rental life, hey?
There’s a lot to be said about the flexibility of renting – you can move every now and again, you can pack it all in and go travelling and hey! No mortgage. But when it comes to decorating, renting can present a bit of a challenge, with bathroom renovations, kitchen upgrades and other major changes pretty much out of the question. In case you’re looking at your rented space thinking ‘I wish I could pull that wall down’, never fear, there are plenty of ways to update and personalise your space without getting structural. And even if you do live in your own home, these little tweaks are useful as a means of updating your space without blowing the budget.
Tip: First up, the most important thing to do is to check what your lease says and/or what your landlord’s policy is on what you can do in your space. Some will be more relaxed than others, but don’t be surprised f you are required to have the house in original condition when you move out.
First up, the easiest little tweak in the book – textiles. These give a space sooooo much personality, without having to make any drastic changes. Start with a rug, they’re often a bit more expensive but will make the biggest improvement to your space, particularly if you’ve got not-so-nice flooring or ugly carpet. A nice big jute rug is a great way to minimalist and modern feel – choose one that goes from wall to wall for a new carpet look without the cost or hassle. Next, choose smaller textiles like cushions, throws and curtains to top off your colour or decor scheme. Updated curtains can completely transform a space!
Now, one thing you’re probably not going to want to do in a rental is get an electrician in to work on the lighting scheme, so chances are you’re going to have to work with what you’ve got. But there are plenty of options for personalizing the lighting. Use oversized pendant lights and lampshades to add a feature to a room. And if you’re dealing with poorly placed lights or bad bulbs, add some lamps to a space to give it a warm feel.
Shelfies are the perfect way to create a space that feels you, and there are lots of options for integrating shelves into rental spaces. Floating shelves are so lovely, but you may or may not be allowed to mess with the walls as per your lease. If you are allowed to add the odd nail to the wall (ask first!), hanging leather shelves are the least destructive compared to floating shelves, only requiring two small nails. Otherwise, use shelves that balance on the floor like simple rectangular shelves or some shelves made from a ladder.
Another decor item that adds texture to your space, is baskets, which can be used for lots of different storage ideas, making them pretty as well as functional. They’re perfect in spaces like the kitchen and laundry that require lots different ways to store (aka cover up) items like clothing and food supplies and are also perfect as an alternative to planters.
Yep, bonified plant lady right here, and to me, it wouldn’t be a home without some indoor plants. Particularly if your rental doesn’t have outdoor space, you’re going to want to bring the outdoors in. Hanging plants, big feature potted plants, and smaller plants all add interest to your home without risking your bond. They also do a great job of disguising walls and floors so if the ones in your space aren’t what you like particularly, get planted!
Art is often the cherry on top when it comes to interior design, and even one or two inexpensive pieces can breathe life and uniqueness into a space. In a rental space it can sometimes be challenging if you can’t nail anything into the walls, but there are lots of options for where to put your art – place it on top of cabinets, on shelves or lean bigger posters again the wall. There are also other options for hanging – for lighter pieces use 3M command hooks that don’t leave a mark, or place posters on the wall using blue tack.
I’ve mentioned here a few times about the challenges of living in a small rental space – often they could do with having a wall taken out to really open up a space, but short of doing it as a favour to the landlord (haha) that’s often not going to happen. One way I’ve found to open up spaces without the huge expense of demolition is to use some big mirrors around the house, Ikea has some great large sized ones that really do feel like you’ve inserted a door in the wall (although don’t try to walk through it!).
A few other ideas…
If you’re looking to take the upgrades a little bit further and away from purely the cosmetic, painting is a great way to make a big change without knocking out your wall. Simply ask your landlord what they think, and know that often you may have to revert the space to original condition when you leave. Wallpaper and even wall decals can be used to create the same effect! Finally, another idea I like is to swap out the knobs and hardware in your kitchen and bathroom!