Interior design

Tips on how to decorate a rental to make it feel like home

Posted by
Megan Murray
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Sometimes renting feels like being caught between a rock and a hard place. Although you know you might not be in your current accommodation for years to come, that doesn’t mean you don’t want to feel at home there for the meantime and put your own stamp on the place.

The problem? Well, actually there can be a few of them. For one, buying furniture or home accessories for a specific rental can feel like a waste of money if it can’t be taken with you. Then there’s the balance between making changes that are easily reversible or that your landlord agrees to.

If you’re struggling to know where to start with decorating your rental, we think these tips from Sabina Miller, head of buying at iconic homeware store Heal’s, will come in handy. 

Here, Miller gives direction on which home accessories and furnishings to invest in and other ways to spruce up a property that isn’t yours.

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  • Use house plants to fill empty corners

    “Try incorporating a ficus tree or rubber tree as they’re on the lower end of the price scale for house plants but are tall enough to fill bare corners or can even be placed behind a sofa.

    “If you want a plant that flowers, try the hoya plant. This plant will still be happy even if you forget to water it occasionally, and can still produce fragrant pink flowers. I would also recommend growing a small herb garden on a window ledge or in your kitchen. All you need is a few small, potted plants like basil or rosemary and you’ll always have something fresh and organic to take any meal to the next level. 

    “Adding plants, natural materials and vintage pieces to your interior will allow you to incorporate the top trend of 2020 biophilia into your living space. Biophilia is about connecting living spaces with nature and creating calm, wellness-promoting, uncluttered living environments, which is something we’ll all be craving as we enter the second lockdown.”

    Shop rubber plant at Happy House Plants, £49.99

  • Cover up old carpet with a statement rug

    “If you have carpets, wooden floorboards or linoleum flooring that’s all seen better days, an on-trend rug can right some wrongs! 

    “Being in a rented property, it is important to not neglect your floor to protect your deposit. A statement rug can change the look of a room as well as keeping the floor intact. Plus, rugs also have the added benefit that you can take it with you when you leave.

    “The size of your space and furniture layout are the two main considerations when choosing a rug size. Avoid the common mistake of buying a rug that’s too small. If you’re unsure or between sizes, go on the larger side for a final look that feels thoughtful instead of haphazard.”

    Shop Ferm Living small Kelim rug at Rose & Grey, £89

  • Create a cosy atmosphere with lighting

    “If you lack natural light, consider putting some lamps in the corner of the room. You could choose a lamp that stands out to make it more of a feature piece, rather than just an accessory. When you’re restricted on what you can do, simple changes make all of the difference.

    “Choose an elegant lampshade to add some extra flair, rather than leaving it bare. The eye is automatically attracted to light so a lampshade is a must-have piece of personality for the room. Plus, opt for LED bulbs for your light fixtures as a more sustainable feature that will last for around 10 to 15 years.”

    Shop Flores shade in damson and blush by Harlequin at Heal’s, from £100

  • Give the walls a lick of paint

    “Incorporating some colour in your home adds style and personality, it enables you to have that homely feel instead of boring plain walls. Don’t forget to make note of the original colour of the walls as you may have to put it back to its original colour when you leave.”

    Get a similar look: Shop lido pink paint at The Pickleson Paint, from £29

  • Try floating shelves for decoration and storage

    “You can use floating shelves to organise your personal items without taking floor space. If you are short on space, this ingenious way is definitely one to adopt in your home. 

    “Floating shelves have the ability to transform any room by adding personality with plants or artwork on, but you should always get permission from your landlord before you do anything drastic to the property. You can use them in different ways to decorate your home, from using it as an alternative space for your night stand or using them as a storage shelf for books.”

    Shop Vinto triple wall shelf in wood/meta at La Redoute, £65

  • Use soft furnishings to create depth and layers easily

    “This is my favourite hack for instantly making a rental place feel like home, simply by adding soft furnishings like cushions, curtains, rugs and throws to corners of your home.

    “You see, layers quite simply means the art of combining a range of fabrics, prints, colours and textures in a manner that brings character and warmth to a room. Layers allow a house to feel lived in and homely.

    “If you’re not sure what to go for, find one dominant fabric that initially takes your eye, perhaps the curtains or rug. Then start layering by adding smaller-scale fabrics like cushions and lampshades.”

    Shop Matilda Jacquard-Woven throw blanket at Anthropologie, £78

  • Opt for clever storage to suit your space

    “Keep clutter at bay with a selection of belly baskets, which are a very on-trend storage solution right now. 

    “Perfect for the living room, you can position a few next to the sofa, underneath a coffee table or simply in a corner and use them to easily hide magazines, throws, books or whatever you need.

    “Endlessly useful baskets come in all shapes and sizes and they have a fabulous tactile quality that adds character. They are ideal for a pretty way to declutter your living area and with multi-purpose use.”

    Shop large storage basket at La Basketry, £95

  • Decorate the walls with prints without using nails

    “Personal photos, your favourite art and unique wall decor will instantly make a space feel more your own. You can use damage-free picture hanging strips and easily-removable tape to hang your frames without making a deposit-busting hole in the paintwork.”

    Shop female dancer in love print by Sasha Compton, £67

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Images: Getty / courtesy of brands/ Heal’s

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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a digital journalist for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about London happenings, beautiful places, delicious morsels and generally spreading sparkle wherever she can.

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