Turning Your Rental Property into Home

There are more and more people renting property in the UK for the long term whilst they struggle to get the money together for a deposit. An increasing number have decided not to bother to even try and afford their own property and are planning to rent for years. In the past, renting a property was usually a 'stop gap' before buying a property, whereas as today, an increasing number of families are now living in rented accommodation for years and just because it is rented, they still want it to be home!

Whilst there are many things you cannot do in your rented accommodation such as knocking down walls or fitting a new bathroom, there are still many things that you can do to successfully personalise your space. Most landlords are approachable and even if you did want to do something major like change the front door, they might well agree – as long as you replace the original one when you leave. In reality, many landlords are open to suggestions on ways to approve their property as they know that it will increase its value and if you are prepare to put in the work, they might well be happy to fund it.

So, you have signed the rental agreement and you have the key to your new abode, what clever things can you do to jazz up the dull rooms and furniture without spending loads?

Make the Space Workable

Are you happy with the room configuration? Is it open plan and bland? The clever use of furniture can divide a large room into separate living and dining areas. You can use a sofa as a room divide or buy a large open backed wall unit (check out the charity shops or websites like Freecycle). A large coffee table with tall plants can work well too.

Lack of space is often a problem – especially when people come to stay - so will a sofa bed work? Under bed trolley boxes are great storage spaces and in the kitchen you can buy racks that hang under shelves to double the storage. Cheap shelf units can be added under stairs and if they aren't in good condition, give them a fresh lick of paint. There are many well designed, flexible wall units that do not need to be anchored to the wall with nails, but are versatile and can look stylish filled with books and ornaments.

Splash the Colour!

Most rental accommodation has magnolia or white interior walls and fairly nondescript carpets and curtains so that the colour scheme appeals to as many as possible. Whilst it looks dull, treat the colour scheme as your canvas and jazz it up with the colours of your choice.

Some landlords will agree to you painting a 'signature wall' in the colour of your choice – as long as you return it to its original colour when you leave. If you don't want to paint anything, use cushions and throws to add colour. If the curtains are not what you would choose, check out for local charity furniture store/warehouse as there are usually a great selection of curtains at really cheap prices but remember to keep the old ones to put back when you leave.

Add Some Art

Paintings and posters are the best way to liven up a room and 'make it yours'. Many landlords do not let tenants add extra picture nails to walls. If you can, ask your landlord, ask if they mind the addition of a couple of extras or if not, there are some very efficient picture adhesives that can be easily bought and they leave no marks on the wall when they are removed.

Check out the Choice of Wall Stickers

There is a great selection of wall stickers available online and in DIY stores and they can look really good. They are easy to apply and the great bonus is that they can be just as easily removed – leaving no marks. There are stickers with nice phrases, geometric and abstract designs and some fun ones such as bamboo leaves. They can all be used to great effect and they are really cheap to buy.

Add Some Lovely Lighting

If the lampshades in your new home are not very attractive, remove them and store them well wrapped in a sturdy box for when you need to hang them again. There is a wealth of different light shades on sale that will soon add style to the room. Add some large table lamps or an uplighter for extra impact.

Enhance the Floor

This one is probably high on the priority list as few rental properties have great flooring! More often than not, the floor is either covered with lino or short tufted industrial style carpeting. The best solution in both situations is to get a lovely rug – as large as you can to cover as much as you can! These can be picked up in charity shops and online. Once you have the rug(s) in place, don't forget to secure it safely to prevent a trip hazard.

Renovate the Fireplace

In older properties, too often the lovely old fireplace is simply covered over with a piece of hardboard. Take a peep behind and see what condition the fireplace is in! The fire grate can be painted black using special paint and will look really smart. The tiles in front may respond to a good polish or (with your landlord's blessing) can be repainted with special tile paint.

The effort will be well worth it as you will have a smart fireplace that can be filled with a few logs, with more in a basket on one side. Other ideas include placing a large piece of stone in the fireplace with several large chunky candles on top or filling the space with a large leafy plant that likes a shady spot.

Talking of Plants

Plants are definitely back in vogue and with discussions about lowering the tax on them plants are a really great way to add character to your home – and they are good for the environment. If you do not have much table space, large plants can be displayed in planters, on shelves or in hanging baskets hung from wall unites and even the end of curtain rails! As well as large leafy plants, of course fresh cut flowers add an instant splash of colour to a room and leaving through a magazine on home interiors, you will find they are a popular addition with interior designers!

Certainly if you try some of these inexpensive tricks to give your new home more character, you will be surprised and delighted with the results... splash out on a big new door mat with the words 'welcome home' and your new abode will definitely feel warm and welcoming.

Please note: Before commencing work that may alter the property such as painting a wall etc please consult with your landlord/agent and obtain written permission to do so.