Reconciling your Pinterest-perfect dream home with the reality of rented accommodation can be a bitter pill to swallow. Trust me, I know. I’m an old hand at this, and as an expat living in Dubai, I know that I am definitely not alone.
Landlords strive to create a neutral space with mass appeal, which usually results in a uniform palette throughout the house and zero personality. The good news, however, is that there are many easy and affordable to ways to put your mark on the place you call home – its your signature style, after all, that transforms a rented property into your ‘home’ no matter how short or lengthy your stay. There’s a wealth of advice and information on this topic floating around the interweb – we’re not reinventing the wheel here – but these are some tricks I have found most effective.
Add color and life to the walls
I never hesitate to paint a rented home. I just can’t help myself. It’s one of the easiest ways to mark your territory, so to speak. And you needn’t paint a whole room – a feature wall will always do. If you really can’t paint the walls, consider removable wallpaper or painting a few pieces of furniture to add a pop of color. If you’re resigned to cream or white walls you might as well embrace it – when done right, this can have a stunning result. And besides, light walls are also making a huge comeback. Take some inspiration from the Scandinavians.
Hang pictures and artwork
Don’t avoid the impact of a beautiful gallery wall because you’re concerned about drilling holes or hammering in a nail – that’s what wall filler products are for, and there are plenty of options to choose from! If you a really can’t bring yourself to hack at the walls, try using Command picture hanging strips. They work like magic. Adding your own photos and artwork is probably the most effective way to portray the very essence of your personal or family style. Larger three dimensional objects like antlers or juju hats pack a visual punch. Take a look at my DIY painted baskets wall art for some inspiration.
Introduce new lighting
Lighting is often overlooked in a rental space, yet it can change the entire mood of a home. Replacing a boring bulb or hideously outdated fitting with a statement chandelier or pendant will instantly add style and a sense of luxury. I’ve talked a lot about exposed light bulbs recently – you can take a look at some options here. The use of floor lights, assorted table lamps and oversized candles will also add to the decorative aesthetic of your space.
Invest in statement rugs
Unless you’ve struck gold with the carpets or flooring of your dreams, no rented home should be without a few rugs. Perfect for disguising unwanted carpet stains or those less-than-charming chipped tiles, rugs add texture, personality and color. Rugs are also a great investment for your future dream home.
Mirrors are particularly effective in smaller spaces because they add depth, making any space appear larger than it is – its almost as good as having another window in the room. Optical illusions aside, mirrors make a glamorous statement, particularly the bigger sized ones. Standing mirrors are always a good option.
Inject colour and texture with cushions
A beautiful throw and gorgeous cushions will work magic on a plain sofa or armchair. These soft furnishings are the key to stylish and affordable decor. It’s unlikely, and certainly impractical, to change your sofas on a regular basis, but by changing your cushion covers, you can refresh and update your living space as regularly as you like.
Some tips for selecting throw cushions:
- Use a selection of cushions is that vary in size, patterns and texture.
- Let the more expensive fabrics / your favorite prints do the talking by layering them in front of the less exciting ones.
- Down/feather filled cushions with always look fuller and more luxurious that their synthetic/polyester filled counterparts.
Bring the outdoors in
Faux or the real deal, plants and flowers will always bring life and glamour to an otherwise dull room. Use a variety of small and large indoor plants to fill spaces and add color. Easy as that. It’s no exaggeration to say that I always feel happier with fresh flowers in the house. True story.
Mom of two, Kathryn is a design and interiors blogger at House of Hawkes. Born and bred in South Africa, she has a marketing background that spans South Africa, the UK and the UAE.
Before the arrival of her kids, she headed up the marketing and business development team for The Grooming Company, parent company of the region’s leading grooming and beauty concepts, N.Bar, JetSet and 1847.