Top interiors tips for turning your dreary rental property into a cosy home sweet home

 
Melissa York
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Hang lights and lean framed photographs instead

Whether you’re renting in the city for work or you’re not quite ready to climb on to the property ladder, your rental property still needs to feel like home. Most, however, look pretty, well, beige so here are some tips from interior design and property experts on how to put your stamp on a property without bothering the landlord.

Get in there before the furniture

“In the past, we have worked on various ‘pre-lets’ – where a unit is let before completion – in new builds where a tenant has offered on a furnished basis, and has then had an input on the furnishings and style of the home.”

– Neil Short, head of residential at property agent Jones Lang LaSalle

“A good way to approach making a rental property your own is to actually start with renting an unfurnished property; that way you obviously have a bit more flexibility to personalise it. Once you have your space, soft furnishings will play a big part, bringing your own choice of colour and style into your rental property.”

– Emily Marlborough, interior designer at BTL Property

“If you know what changes you want to make before you sign the tenancy agreement, make sure you include any requests in your offer – and ensure that they’re written into the tenancy agreement. For example, I showed a property to a rental client of ours the other day and she hated the door knobs on the kitchen cabinets, which were wooden and painted red, as part of our offer, we requested that she was granted permission to change them at her cost and leave whichever ones she bought at the property at the end of the tenancy.”

– Jo Eccles, founder of buying agency Sourcing Property


Add touches of bright colour throughout to create focal points throughout your home

Let your true colours shine through

“Most rental properties have a very neutral colour scheme – magnolia walls, pale laminate flooring or carpets, and white bathrooms – which scream out for colour, texture and patterns. We often use statement pieces, cushions, throws, rugs and quirky accessories to brighten up rooms, create a focus and male them feel instantly more homely.”

– Marie Matthews, interior designer at Roomservice by CORT

Get arty

“A gallery wall is such a cool way to instantly brighten up your pad, and Command 3m strips can make it happen, damage free. The strips are like Velcro that stick onto the wall via an adhesive back. I know it sounds a bit dodgy, but the genius part is that it has some kind of wizardry that allows you to remove the strip and leave zero residue. Alternatively, frame large-scale pieces of art and prop them up on a sideboard or surface for a contemporary look. Want to go bigger? Surfaceview.com offers very large format ‘epic posters’ that can be blue tacked to the wall to create a big statement without the permanent commitment.”

- Sarah Akwisombe, interior designer and blogger for flatshare website Weroom.com

“Artwork is extremely personal and says so much about a person. Many people in London don’t have permission to hang paintings or pictures, especially for short leases, but do try to run this past your landlord if you are planning on staying for a while, and mention that you’ll get any holes filled before you leave.”

- Emily Marlborough, interior designer at BTL Property


Create a poster wall using adhesive tape

Accessorise, darling

“Get accessorising like mad. A few well-placed ornaments and objet d’art can provide interesting focal points and conversation starters. Interesting accessories don’t have to cost the earth, either; try scouring vintage markets and charity shops for unique pieces that have a history.”

- Sarah Akwisombe for WeRoom.com

Throw some light on the subject

“If you want more control over your lighting, you can now do so without having to touch the wiring with Lifi systems.

Although still in their infancy and some can be a bit gimmicky, simple Lifi systems such as Osrams Lightfy can be a great solution for rentals, allowing you to switch all those floor and table lamps off together, dim the lighting and set scenes for different times of day.

They even offer lights which will change colour temperature so you can have cooler lighting during the daytime and warmer in the evenings.”

- Ellie Coombs, director at lighting design consultants Nulty+

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