Make your rental feel like home

Paint, primp and personalise - simple ideas for making your rental your own

Plants will instantly add colour

Plants will instantly add colour


With one in five people now living in rental accommodation, the overall rate of home-ownership has declined to its lowest since 1971 and renting has become more common than owning a property before the age of 35.

But just because you don’t own the property doesn’t mean your surroundings can’t feel like home. Our surroundings have a bigger impact on us than we realise, and a few landlord-approved enhancements can be easy to make and don’t have to cost the earth. From lighting to carefully selected pieces of furniture, it’s simple enough to personalise a rented home – without compromising your lease agreement.

A lick of paint

If you can get permission from your landlord, repainting can transform any room. It’s also a very cost-effective way to give woodwork and furniture a whole new look. Some landlords will agree to letting you paint – once you agree to return the walls to “rental neutral” before you leave. Everything from kitchen cabinets to wardrobe doors will benefit from a fresh coat of paint.

Dress your windows

Readymade blinds and curtains are ideal for a rental. They’re easy to install and just as easy to take with you when you move. Roman blinds achieve a sharp and contemporary look because they use less fabric than curtains, making them more affordable.

Upgrade your kitchen handles

Most landlords will let you make small upgrades such as swapping out cabinet handles. This is a great way to give a kitchen or wardrobe a whole new look. Use fittings with similar dimensions so you don’t have to drill any extra holes.

Hide ugly floors

The other issue when renting is having to put up with things you cannot change, such as floors. An inexpensive way to get a smart-looking large rug is to have a piece of carpet cut to size and then have it edged in a contrasting colour. Most carpet suppliers will be able to do this for you. Layering rugs is another great way to conceal a not-so-good-looking floor, as well as adding texture and colour.

Hang a mirror

Mirrors are a great way to cover up walls – the bigger the better. I invested in a large floor mirror when I lived in a one-bed apartment years ago. It worked to give the effect of doubling the room and has travelled with me over the years and now resides in my family room.

Hang art

Displaying artworks and photographs really makes a place feel like home. Hanging art with a single nail or a screw is acceptable in most rentals, but if you are not allowed to hang anything on the walls, use surfaces such as a mantelpiece, open shelving, or the top of a cabinet to display art and decorative pieces. It’s incredible what a difference a frame can make. If you find a piece you love, spend a little more to have it properly framed.

Create atmosphere with lighting

Lighting is a key factor in controlling atmosphere – something which many rentals lack. Even the best-styled room will look flat under inadequate lighting. If your rooms feature bare bulbs or outdated pendants, replace the shades. Opt for different sources of lighting by using a mix of table and floor lamps to control the lighting levels from room to room.

Use hooks for storage

If storage is scarce, use hooks to hang coats, bags, and hats. This space-saving trick is also great for bathrobes and towels in the bathroom. In the kitchen hooks work well for frequently-used utensils, pots, and pans. They are also great for hanging sweeping brushes, ironing boards and mops, freeing up valuable floor space.

Invest in pieces you can take with you

Don’t invest in things you can’t take with you. Smaller pieces of furniture such as a side table, a nice dresser or a coffee table will work wherever you live and are smart investments for adding style to your temporary space. Opt for furniture that can be moved around and reconfigured so it can more easily fit into another home. Your landlord may be amenable to removing some pieces of furniture – having your own choice of sofa or dining chairs can make all the difference.

Introduce greenery

If a corner feels dead and vacant, introduce a plant or indoor tree. Plants will instantly add colour and make the space come alive.