In today's real estate market it is difficult to find the right home for many reasons! There is a lack of supply almost everywhere, purchase prices are at their highest peak in decades, mortgage rates are increasing steadily and there is typically a long waiting list for quality contractors/builders available to renovate or build homes!
Often buying isn't the answer at particular points in our lives either. Maybe we have just moved to a city, town, country or region and we want to rent first to get the lay of the land, or the need to save for a deposit is a key stumbling block. Perhaps you are downsizing or have other issues with buying. Just know there are many benefits with renting. The building itself, sometimes grounds and lobbies, are looked after by building owners/managers. Renting means the outlay of capital is minimal (deposit and 1st months rent typically) with the freedom to move at the end of a lease or extend quite beneficial.
Regardless of the reason, renting a house, cottage or apartment can offer both financial and movement flexibility. Although it may limit what you can do to a rental space to make it your own. Here are 6 ways to personalise your rental space to make your time living there one of homey comfort and convenience.
- Paint: Most rentals come with your basic white walls, doors and architrave. This is actually a good thing! A blank slate comprised of standard white walls and white (or grey) kitchen and bath cabinets means you can add colour and mood to really liven it up. First thing, before you sign the lease, if the space is looking a bit tatty, ask to have the premises painted in a bright white (Loft White by Farrow & Ball is the a good choice). This means the space will be clean and fresh when you move in and hopefully not have to be painted again when you move out. White comes in many shades so be sure to ask for a bright white. 'Linen' or 'Cream' painted walls can throw off most design styles, they absorb light and can make people in the spaces look yellow or jaundiced, they are not as neutral as you may think! If the landlord won't repaint for you, at least have them touch up. You could also paint it yourself and ask for them to cover the cost of the paint and/or reduce the amount of deposit or 1st month's rent.
- Choose a cohesive 'style' as inspiration! Taking a blank space or an ultra modern, minimally furnished one and making it 'sing your style' requires a plan! Try our 'Coastal Design Personality Quiz' for a start (find the link at the top of our website). This will not only give you inspiration from pictures and vignettes, it gives you a definitive style and details of that style at the end. We also recommend using Houzz.com by creating an Ideabook and saving pictures you find on the internet of the rooms or items you like for inspiration. The most important thing is to have a plan before you start so you don't waste money on items, from furniture to dish towels, that won't be a cohesive style fit or good quality for lasting use.
- Shop from yourself first! When I consult with my interior design clients, I always try to repurpose and reuse what they have already collected. You will be adapting these pieces to a new space by paring them differently, recovering, repainting or grouping and displaying in new and unique ways. A new space should feel like pieces of your past, present and future combined. This new space is about how you want to live your life now. A home we create is like setting a stage for all of our most important memories, ones in the past and ones planned for the future. The best way to do this is to take everything out of its box and put on the floor or dining room table, stack all of the artwork against a wall and group them in 'like collections'. You might find you eliminate ones that do not speak to you anymore. There is also the option of adapting frames (by painting etc) for art work and images to tell a 'story'.
- Buy quality furniture pieces you need and plan to keep when you move. These may be the ones you spend a bit more on...say you have always wanted a four poster bed...now is the time to buy it, don't wait to buy a house. Just be certain anything you buy will fit up stairs & elevators easily and can be dismantled to be moved. For smaller pieces like side tables, bedside tables etc consider buying secondhand and painting and or repurposing. I love using a bedroom dresser in a hallway entry for instance. It's a welcoming vignette with a mirror, lamps, books and/or flowers! Also don't discount family & friend hand-me-downs. Or if you follow a 'Buy & Sell' local Facebook page, people often offer items for free if you are willing to pick up and remove them.
- Lighting is the key to being cozy! Typically in any rental you have loads of down-lights or a single central (cheap looking) light fixture. There are 3 levels of light needed in every room. Ceiling, wall or lamp level, and floor or up-lighting. You need all 3! It is pretty easy to swap out generic central light fixtures with something larger and more impressive. Be sure to keep the existing one, to replace it again when you move and take yours with you. Use lots of standing or table lamps around rooms for task and useful illumination next to sofas, chairs and beds. I like to add small lamps on kitchen counters to leave on in the evening for a gentle, moody lighting vibe. Finally, buy 'up-lights' for the corners of rooms and to highlight plants, walkways (hallways etc). You can find these in lighting supply stores, on Amazon or online elsewhere.
- Make some brave personality 'feature' choices! Not willing to pay for an expensive wallpaper 'feature' wall in a rental space? You can always go for a less expensive, large scale 'peel & stick wallpaper' (easily removed) or printed art that is more affordable. Something to catch the eye. There are some good online art or print companies such as www.surfaceview.co.uk that have thousands of museum and modern images to print in any manner of sizes. Grouping antique or family pictures in a collage, stood as a series on a sofa table or entry dresser, using display shelves and coffee tables to show off pieces with texture, books for interest, useful trays and unique curiosities. The biggest issue with rental spaces is often being stark and lacking personality. Fill it with your favourite things! Unpack, make yourself at home by adding throws and cushions to take a simple bed or sofa and make it feel more special and luxurious. These are the perfect places to add colour and print, to show what makes you happy!
Ultimately, it is about you feeling at home, warm and cosy! Take the time to paint, plan, repurpose, purchase, light and style to make your rental your own space. The more effort you put in, the more likely you'll be happy to stay!
Karen @ Wild Atlantique
(Image courtesy of Architectural Digest)