Having a home is not about whether you own, rent, or borrow the building. It is about how you feel inside it, and the way you use the spaces to live the life that makes you happy. Mr Recycled and I were chatting on our daily walk, about how we don’t need a bigger house with the 8-ball room he dreams of, or the big family room with valuted ceilings that I dream of. What we need is to feel comfortable, secure, relaxed and happy – and we already feel that in our 1949 rambling little house with crumbly bits and wonky floors. There are lots of things we want to do still, and it is an ongoing series of projects, or the 100 year plan, as Mr Recycled likes to say. However, if you rent your house or apartment, you may feel more restricted when it comes to projects and putting your own stamp on your rental home. More and more people are living in rental homes longer term. Some people are choosing to rent a home because there are less responsibilities and bills to pay for looking after the property, or it is just more convenient. Others are finding the housing market too expensive to break into, may be moving around a bit, or are living in a rental while saving to buy their own home. When I first moved out of home I rented for a number of years, until Mr Recycled and I bought our first home together, where we still live today. We have discussed selling and moving into the rental market as a viable option at some point, and who knows where life may lead. Renting a home may mean you are more limited in what you do to the property, but there are pluses and plently of things you can do to make it your own, with a sustainable touch.
Here are my 7 Tips on Making Your Rental Home Your Own
If you are renting your home you may not have the freedom to play with painting, floors and structural changes, but there are plenty of things you can do. It is important to work to a budget, so that you can focus on the most important areas. You should chat with your landlord first before any major changes. You may find they are happy for you to improve the property. In a rental, rather than worrying about huge changes, consider changes that include the addition of colour and texture in accessories to add the wow factor you are looking for. You can change things like curtains, door handles, taps and other fixtures, that can be returned to their original state before you move out.
1. Mix old and new items
This is always a starting point as far as I think! Old and new is the perfect blend for any interior, but especially if you have a tight budget. Shopping in the local op shops, on ebay and gumtree, and doing the rounds of the weekend garage sales, means finding key pieces that make impact in your rental home without breaking the bank. You can get creative and combine these finds with some new pieces. Try places like etsy and local markets, for items such as artwork, linen and ceramics. Build a home you love with things that make you smile, and function well in your home.
2. Paint or wallpaper
Painting walls has one of the biggest impacts in your home. This can be problematic in a rental home. However, if you have an approachable landlord, they may be happy for you to make changes, especially if it improves the property – and what have you got to lose by asking! If you are able to, painting yourself will save you a lot of money. However you may have to negotiate with the landlord as to the costs and who does the painting. Removable wallpaper is another great option as it can be easily removed when you move with no damage to the walls. There are quite a few people out there making great removable wallpaper now such as Publisher Textiles, These Walls and Removable Wallpaper Australia. However always check with the landlord first! If you can not paint or wallpaper, just focus on the other areas of the home. Another great option is to create a wallpaper panel – use something like MDF and wallpaper it – then attach to the wall like you would with a picture, or lean against the wall. Or try using wallpaper on panels on a wardrobe for a splash of pattern and colour that you can take with you.
3. Upcycle some furniture
You do not have to ask about painting your own furniture pieces though! This can really create a whole new look. You can use a wide range of finishes and paints. Chalk paint will go over anything with little prep, but you could also strip furniture and use stains, oils, limewash and waxes on timber pieces. You could spray paint a wicker piece, like I did with my outdoor furniture, or try something different with some stencils or decoupage. Think outside the square and create a shelf out of an old sifter, or a drawer from an unwanted chest of drawers, or even an old crate.
4) Work with a new colour palette
Changing your colour scheme injects a whole new look. Inspiration can come from all sorts of places. Think about the colours you are naturally drawn to and use these as a base. But sometimes it can be good to go outside of your comfort zone and try some colours you would not usually go for. There are no rules with colour, but to create a more harmonious look, consider a complementary palette of colours that work together. These are the colours that are opposite each other on the colour wheel such as red–green, blue–orange, and yellow–purple. Adding neutral pieces within a colourful home allows the eye to rest, so I like to combine some textural and natural materials. Likewise, a pop of colour in an otherwise neutral or monochromatic home, can add a vibrancy that makes the difference.
5. Use accessories well
One of the first things I notice in people’s houses when they say it does not feel like a home, is a lack of art, cushions, decor items and the little personal touches. In a rental home you will probably not be able to put holes in the walls, so try using some of the removable picture hangers now available, which are perfect if you don’t want to bang holes in the wall – just check the hanging capacity and add more than one hook where needed. Art, throws, cushions, candles and pots, will all add character to your home. Look in op shops, via etsy, instagram creatives and your local markets. Create your own art and if you have kids, always have some of their creations on the walls. Try using art and mirrors in different ways such as leaning up against a wall or cupboard, or leaning on the mantle, or a shelf. Not all art needs to be hung – however never lean a heavy piece where it may fall and injure someone. I have a large mirror leaning up on my mantle and it looks fab. Mirrors also add light to a room and can reflect the view outside if it is of the garden.
6. Remember the dressings and introduce texture
Curtains make a really big difference to a room and there are so many to choose from. Or you can make your own! Look for some interesting fabrics that fit with your design. Sheer curtains can give a dreamy feel, and adding curtains that touch the floor and pool slightly, is more luxurious than curtains that fall short of the floor. Practical aspects also matter, so if it is a window which brings in heat, find a heavier weight curtain that will help in keeping the heat out in summer and the warmth in during winter. Wicker furniture, sisal, rag and hemp rugs, velvet cushions and so on, add texture and visual interest. Adding textural pieces is important as it creates visual interest and encourage you to linger in a space. Combine rough with smooth to have maximum impact. Rugs are your friend in a rental home because you can cover up an array of carpets that you want to hide your eyes from!
7. Create vignettes, and add plants and flowers
Vignettes are basically little scenes around your home, which pull items together to create an overall picture. It can include a sofa, with a piece of art above, a side table, lamp and candles on the table. It is also the more classic concept of your decorative pieces grouped together on a shelf, table or mantle. They are important to the overall feel and look of your home. Flowers and plants bring life into your home. You can add some low costs plants like succulents, which you can then grow more of yourself from cuttings, or look for other plants which work well indoors- here are some ideas. Try a macrame plant hanger to bring both texture and nature into your rental – just be aware of when watering plants – you will probably need to take your plants outside to water, to make sure there is no water damage to the floors.