I rent a cute/older style apartment above a shop in Surry Hills, Sydney. With the city's crazy rent prices but minimal home choices, I was lucky enough to score a place with a plain base - white walls and floor boards. Despite having an older style kitchen and bathroom, I have certainly had my fair share of bold colour choices and bad bathroom fittings. You can't win them all, but you can certainly add some personal style to change things up.
1. Pick your style and be consistent
Are you Scandi? Are you Japanese minimalist? Are you antique or super modern flatpack? Whatever you are, pick your style and loosely stick to it. I say loosely because I believe trends cross over and you can mix antique and modern together. Plus, having a housemate with different taste can also make this tough to stick to.
If you have a vibe in mind though, deciding on furniture and homewares will become easier when shopping. Depending on your rental space, it can be the decider for your style. It will be pretty hard to mix old/colourful art deco vibes with your brightly coloured IKEA couch... No judgement though. It's just something to think about.
Paintings and prints are a super easy way to add personality to your home. I know in your lease it says you are forbidden to hang things on the walls, but those sticky adhesive hooks actually work a treat, and if used correctly, won't leave a mark. DON'T go to your local dollar shop and pick up the cheap version. Trust me, as someone who has rented many places, you will end up paying more in Spakfilla because the cheap ones rip off paint or fall down.
You'd be surprised how much a rug can tie a room together. They are great for dividing a space, adding warmth and style, and are a cost effective way of making a house feel like a home.
4. Lighting... Is SO important
Lighting can control your mood. When I first moved into my apartment, our high ceiling held home to stark fluoro lighting... A quick trip to Bunnings and our home was instantly transformed from train station toilet to a warm and welcoming abode.
That's just one way... A good floor lamp in the loungeroom and desk lamp next to your bed is a simple investment piece that warms a place up.
Two years ago I got an amazing concrete pendant given to me from GoodHood. Obviously as a renter there was no way I was going to be able to re-wire the roof lighting and drill in the cord to hold the weight. I took it to my electrician friend and got him to wire it as a wall plug, so now it's my bedside lamp.
Trinkets and memorable things are a special way of giving a rental a personal touch when the other features might not be your style. Having things from travelling, gifts and other important pieces create a story and can also evoke a nice feeling. Style them on a book shelf, coffee table or chest of drawers and your home will instantly start to exude your personality, not the landlord's.
Whether it be a cushion, throw rug or kimono hung on the wall, different textiles can bring your home decor together. The great thing about textile homewares is that you can change it up and it's an inexpensive way of adding a non-permanent style. Textiles in the bedroom are great. I have two beautiful flax linen doona covers, one in beige and one is a dark charcoal. I mix these up each wash and they are trans-seaonal, so all I have to do is change my decorative accents and it constantly feels fresh.
I fall victim to this. As someone who LOVES things for the home and has lots of special keep-sakes, I sometimes put too many things out and therefore it looks cluttered and messy. I do love the minimalist vibe (clearly) but nailing it can be difficult. Once you have all your things out on display, take a step back and see where the focal point is. Are your eyes drawn to a particular part of the room? Is this a good or bad thing? Sometimes it's best to remove too many items - spread them out or swap them around every now and then.
If you aren't lucky enough to have a built in wardrobe and your clothes are on display, this can make a bedroom seem messier than it is. Stick to consistent hangers so they all match, and try colour coordinate your apparel. You'd be surprised how neat your room will look when your white and indigos are styled into a gradient effect.
8. Wall hooks and shelves
I have drilled many things into rental properties but I am also pretty handy with the old Spakfilla and paint. If you are game enough to get hardware happy, maybe check with the real estate first and let them know you will patch up anything you add. Also, ask them if the landlord knows the colour paint they used. This will save you trying to peel of chips and colour match them at Bunnings. I learnt this the hard way.
Plants are the easiest way to add colour to your home without altering anything. The hardest thing about plants is keeping them alive (for me anyway).
Indoor plants that require low light and minimum water are the go. Or you can opt for a little herb garden in your kitchen - this is editable and looks great.
Images via Pinterest