a living room filled with furniture and vase of flowers on a table

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Saturday February 22, 2020

8 top tips to turn any rental into a cosy home

Renting a property gives you a lot of flexibility. If you need more space, just find another place that suits you better. If you get another job, give your notice and set off on your new adventure. Renting gives you the freedom to change your living situation with relative ease and shields you from all the nasty downsides of owning a property…like costly repair bills and ongoing maintenance.

However, a big incentive for owning a property is the chance to make somewhere your own. You get to put your own stamp on your home and who can deny that decorating and house shopping is great fun!

For so long renting has meant that getting to experience this is out of the question. Even threats of marks from blu-tac can be enough to lose deposits. So, rather than risk the financial loss you ‘live with’ what’s there and just make do.

Well, thankfully times are changing. More and more ‘renter friendly’ products are coming out that allow you to actually decorate…but also remove without marks once your lease is up. So, whether you are moving to a new flat, a student that wants to personalise their halls or just want to freshen up your current rental, just follow these simple 8 tips to turn your rental into a cosy home that you will want to show off!

1. Removable Wallpaper

OK, let’s start with the big one…painting walls and putting up wallpaper are some of the easiest and quickest ways to transform any space. However, they are also the biggest absolute no no when it comes to renting…until now that is.

Believe it or not removable wallpaper is actually a thing now. And I’m not talking some dodgy patterned sticky back plastic, it’s genuine good quality wallpaper with the added bonus of being removable.

In fact, this is such a mess free offering it’s a great option for homeowners too. If you are more likely to get the wallpaper paste on yourself than on the wall, then this may just be the way to go.

If you are renting you don’t really want to be spending too much money decorating somewhere you may leave in a few months so it’s best to apply removable wallpaper as a ‘feature’ rather than as whole room.

You also don’t need to limit it to the walls. As it will stick to most smooth surfaces you can be as inventive as you like. So, if you are sick of staring at standard and tired looking furniture…give it a new lease of life with the wallpaper. Basically, use it to hide all the ugly bits of your rental!

Check out this great post from domino.com on 11 ways you never thought to use removable wallpaper to give you some inspiration and your creative juices flowing.

2. Go green

Introducing plants is the simplest trick for making any rental feel like a home. They have a calming influence and if you are able to keep real ones alive, they will even purify the air to create a healthier environment.

Goodhousekeeping.com offers great advice on the 30 hardest to kill indoor plants. If you are going to buy real, you want it to last otherwise it’s money down the drain! Just make sure to follow the advice on how often to water, but more importantly where to position a plant. There’s no point buying real if it’s going to be put in the wrong conditions, it’s just a waste of money.

In the right conditions and with the proper care your indoor plants will last you years….and go with you every time you move. As a removals company we are well versed in moving some very impressive house plants!

However, if like me, your plant survival record is shockingly bad, or the conditions for a real plant just aren’t right, you can always fake it till you make it. Matalan has a great range of very realistic and affordable faux options that means not being green fingered is no reason to not enjoy a bit of greenery.

The trick with faux is to focus on plants not flowers. You have to spend a fair bit to get a realistic faux flower (with the exception of orchids), whereas faux plants are readily available and affordable….and again can go with you every time you move house.

Try to display a few plants together using varying height planters to make a real feature, or trailing plants off shelves is another simple trick to create and insta-worthy look. If you are unsure where to start try this post from realhomes.com for plant display inspiration.

3. Add a rug

Let’s be honest, carpets in a rental can be pretty grim. That’s both in terms of colour and the likely stains they have encountered over the years. However, there is something lovely and homely about the feeling of carpet underfoot…just not those carpets.

So why not add a rug. A rug will create a bit of visual interest in your room, help zone a space…and is a great way to detract from a boring beige carpet, or even conceal a particularly nasty stain!

Don’t think that rugs are only for hard floors, they can also look fantastic against the neutral tones of a rental carpet.

Like with all these top tips for renters, a rug is super easy to take with you when you leave. So, if you opt for a fairly neutral rug there’s no reason why it won’t work in lots of future homes. Think of it as an investment.

If you want a super stylish, fluffy and bang on trend rug to last a lifetime, look no further than the berber rug from La Redoute…it’s so iconic amongst design aficionados it even has its own Instagram account!

My top tip for rugs…go big. There’s nothing worse than a rug the size of a bath mat!

4. Do the lean

Artwork, shelving and mirrors are great ways to make a home feel cozy. But most of the time these would need fixed to a wall which means they are not an option for renters.

However, a really simple trick, and actually a really cool way of displaying these things, is to just lean them against a wall instead. No fixings required….and makes them easy to shift around if you fancy a wee change.

Leaning things against a wall just looks so effortless…which it is, haha! Picture frames look great leant together in small groups or, go for a cheap massive frame from IKEA and lean it on its own.

Ladder shelves are perfect for creating a nice display area and providing extra storage space that rentals often lack. A full length mirror is often a luxury not to be found in a rental but adding a chunky mirror standing on the floor can look very contemporary whilst also serving a purpose.

As these items are not secured it’s best to adopt this approach when there aren’t kids around as you don’t want anything falling over on them.

If you want to learn the art of leaning and some basic principles to follow, check out this post from stagemyownhome.com for some great advice.

5. Get the lighting right

Let’s be honest, there will be very few landlords out there that care enough to provide the right layers of light for your needs, or anything beyond ‘the big light’. But lighting is one of the most important factors in creating a homely feel.

Adding table and floor lamps will allow you to adjust the levels of lighting down to create a cosy atmosphere. Adding lamps also provides you with important task lighting for comfortable reading.

Not only are they practical but lamps are also a decorative feature so it’s two for one really. You get better lighting and a beautiful (moveable) object to personalise your space. When selecting light bulbs, it’s best to go for warm white options which have a warmer yellow tone rather than cool white which can create a harsher whiter environment.

For stylish and affordable lighting options, a few places at the top of your hit list should be Matalan, Dunelm and Ikea.

6. Get creative with washi tape

This is a bit like the removable wallpaper idea…but a lot less scary and a hell of a lot cheaper. In case you haven’t heard of it, washi tape is a very durable type of masking tape that has taken the DIY world by storm. It is available in a range of widths, colours and patterns and the only thing limiting what you can do with it is your imagination.

You can use it to create bold geometric patterns on walls, liven up furniture and even add interest to a boring door. If you have kids you can create some amazing murals on their bedroom wall, train tracks on the floor and an indoor hop scotch. Renting no longer has to stand in the way of an awesome kids bedroom!! Check out this beautiful post from kidsinteriors.com for truly amazing kids décor ideas with washi tape.

It’s probably a bit hard to get your head around what you can do with this tape so why not check out Pinterest for even more creative décor ideas. Turning a rental into a home is about making the space personal to you and washi tape lets you do this really easily, is super cheap, and can be removed with no fuss.

7. Rearrange the furniture

This one is really simple and may seem a little obvious but how many times have you moved to a new house and just left the furniture the way it is?

Re-arranging the furniture gives a twofold benefit. Firstly, you make the space work better for you and how you live. But secondly, it’s a way of achieving that ‘putting your own stamp on it’ idea. It’s quite psychological but switching things around is a way of moving past the landlord’s rules and making it a home on your terms.

Try moving furniture away from the walls. This creates a modern look but can also make a room feel bigger as the walls seem further away from ‘stuff’.

8. Change the curtains

If there’s one thing that’s usually guaranteed to be awful when you move into a rental it’s the curtains! How come ‘neutral’ never seems to apply to the curtains??? If you have been following the tips above you should have a pretty stylish rental home by now so the last thing you want is the curtains taking the shine off things.

Best thing to do is take them down, fold them up and put them to the back of a very dark cupboard! Don’t chuck them though as you will need to re-hang them when you move out to avoid any deposit issues.

So, what do you put in their place? Black out curtains are fantastic for nurseries and if you do shift work as they allow you to get a proper sleep during the daytime. Remember though that blackout doesn’t mean they have to be dark curtains. Blackouts come in all colours.

If you would like to keep a bit of privacy but not block the light during the day, you can add a semi sheer curtain behind a full set of curtains. This is also a top tip if the view out of your rental is less than picturesque!

The main thing to remember when purchasing curtains though is that they should sweep the floor so make sure you measure your space and get the right length…or drop as it’s officially called. There are plenty of affordable curtain options from the likes of The Range, Dunelm, Wayfair etc so bound to be something perfect for your ‘new home’.

So, if renting works for your circumstances there’s no reason why you can’t have it all. Enjoy the flexibility of no ties, whilst also creating a space to call your own in the knowledge that your deposit is safe.

Invest a little money in some decorative pieces that can go with you. So when it comes to calling the removals companies, you know the things you put in the van will make your next rental just as much of a home.