How to make a rented property feel like home.

Being able to buy that dream home is precisely that… just a dream. It seems to be getting harder and harder for people to get onto the property ladder these days.

London, in particular, is a tough nut to crack when it comes to finding an affordable yet decent place to live. However, there are some fantastic rentals to be had, it might just take a while to find one that ticks the boxes for you, but they are out there. You know the phrase, you might have to kiss a few frogs before finding your prince? House-hunting can be a similar process.

Furthermore, it can be challenging to make that space feel like a permanent residence rather than a stop-gap.

So, assuming you’ve bagged the right property to rent, what can you do to make that place your own?

Before you start doing anything to a rental, you must check your landlord agreement and make sure you understand the house rules. You won’t be able to start ripping the place apart like you’re on an episode of Grand Designs. Still, most landlords will be happy to let you make minor changes that aren’t structural or permanent, provided you restore the house to the original state you got it in. Always check before you make even the smallest of home improvements, making sure you are clear on what you can and cannot do – although a few soft furnishings or a trendy new fruit bowl are unlikely to upset the apple cart.

Ok, so you know you won’t be undertaking any major changes but, there are temporary cosmetic tweaks you can make that will have a real impact on the overall look and feel of the place.  Not only will these little changes allow you to put your stamp on the property, but they will also make it feel more familiar to you, quickly becoming a place you can call home.

Here are just a few ideas to get you started.

If your walls are a bland, neutral shade and you want to jazz it up, you could always paint one, making a feature wall with a statement colour from which you can team up your decorative accessories. Make sure you check with the landlord though – if you opt for a Day-Glo green or vibrant fuchsia, it might prove costly and time-consuming to paint it back to magnolia when you come to vacate! If you can’t paint the walls and you’re stuck with a neutral palette, don’t despair. Adding touches of colour elsewhere can be really effective against a white or cream backdrop. Plus, by not committing to intense colour on the walls, it’s easier to revamp your décor more frequently by replacing a few cushions or light shades without having to go to much trouble with the paintbrush. It might be best to stick to easy, neutral colours on the larger surfaces but go to town on the accessories. It could be a bold throw, colourful scatter cushions, or a statement design rug – all extensions of your personality but also portable and easy to change.

Another good idea is to show off some cute family pictures or prints of places you love – maybe some holiday snaps or postcards from places you’ve been to that instantly bring back warm memories. Another item that adds a cosy touch is a pretty candle – either in a fabulous colour or pattern or just one that smells utterly fabulous.

These little additions can make an unfamiliar space instantly comforting but they’ll also add some character and style to a room.

The kitchen and bathroom are other areas that you’re unlikely to be able to change much – you can’t go ripping out units or baths because you don’t like them. However, you can make the best of the space by introducing small changes. In the kitchen, it could be a few new dishes and matching storage jars to give it an instant facelift. Or in the bathroom, you could buy fresh towels in a colour you love and style it up with some pretty, co-ordinating soap dishes and bath products.

Accessories and finishing touches bring so much to your home décor and they don’t need to cost a fortune either. There are lots of stylish bits and bobs you can pick up on the high street or online to suit every budget. With a little bit of imagination, you can create that interiors magazine look without breaking the bank!

This is all well and good if you’re renting by yourself. What if you’re sharing with someone else or living in an HMO (house in multiple occupancy), You’ll be limited on what you can do in the communal living spaces – unless all the housemates agree to let you be the nominated interior decorator! In this case, your bedroom is going to be the focus of your attention. You’ll still be able to create a room that is ambient, personal and above all, decorated to reflect your taste and style. The same principle applies if you’re starting with a blank canvas. You can choose a colour scheme that makes you feel happy and relaxed – after all, this is where you will be sleeping, and it’s crucial to be able to find solace in your room when you need your own space – even if you get on well with your housemates.

The key is to personalise your space, making it so inviting that you instantly relax the minute you walk through the door. It might be a temporary abode but, by adding your personal items and styling it up to match your taste, it will soon become home sweet home.

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