Rental home decor for grown ups
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Renting is no longer for scruffy students and early 20s sharers. The modern yuppie who in days of yore would likely have bought is now just as likely to be renting well into their 30s. Here’s how they can make a temporary abode feel like a grown up home.
Get serious about your lighting
Overhead lighting can be fabulous or, in a rental with fluorescent strip lighting it can be the pits. Lamps are your friends in an adult rental property. Not only are they fully transportable, but they also offer the chance to design your own lighting scheme – who needs a dimmer switch when you’ve got an elegant table lamp? Try Tom Dixon for the best plug ins on the market. Sometimes all you need is a stylish new lampshade (put the existing one in a cupboard to replace when you move out, just in case the landlord has inventoried it).
Yes, it’s obvious, but choosing your own soft furnishings in a fabric you love, in colours that manage to bridge the gap between your landlord’s questionable décor choices and what you’d have in your dream home will bring your living room to life. Choose the most expensive you can afford – you’re trying to get away from your student days. Cushions should be as large as possible for maximum impact and comfort. Throws should be in natural fibres, cosy yet stylish like this 100 per cent wool number from Khadi and Co available for £575 from Selvedge. You want to avoid the randomly thrown together look if possible so pick out at least one colour that’s in both to tie it all together.
Hide a multitude of cheap flooring horrors with large rugs. These tend to be expensive but they are the difference between brown polyester carpet or chipped lino and a place that feels like home. Plus choose wisely and once you’ve bought it, you can unroll that beauty in every future home. Habitat has a good selection of reasonably priced large rugs in stylish colours and designs.
In an ideal world, your landlord will be a normal human being who understands that their cash cow is also your home and so will let you drill the odd hole into the wall to hang pictures and fix furniture. However, if they’re not – and many corporate landlords are not – there are still ways of displaying your art, posters and photos without losing your deposit. Command tape is one option for frames weighing less than 1kg; propping works on a sideboard or shelf can also be effective. If you don’t own lots of prints already John Lewis have a selection priced from £5 (frames sold separately).
Again, whether or not you can hang these on the wall will depend on your landlord, but even if you can’t, a large mirror propped on the floor will make light bounce around the room, create the illusion of space, and help you make sure you look the part on the way to the office. These beaded antique mirrors from £99 at Graham and Green will do the job.
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Storage can be in short supply in rented homes but if you can free up a shelf or two in your living or bedroom, this can be a good place to add a bit of personality to a room with a selection of plants, pictures and other attractive objects. Sure, it’s a little lifestyle bloggy, maybe even a bit pretentious but if you’re not lucky enough to have a dramatic fireplace with a mantelpiece to display these things on then you’ll need an alternative.
Grown ups have dinner parties, not necessarily of the starched, formal, three courses and special cutlery variety but also not just ordering pizza for whoever happens to be around. A set of nice dishes and glassware will counter any interesting seating arrangements or mismatched cutlery. You can keep a table laid to display your nice pieces, but there’s something a little weird and stagey about this (and what London renter’s dining table doesn’t double up as an office and general dumping ground?). If you have open shelves though, this can be a nice way of showing off your good china, or invest in an open kitchen shelving unit – Ikea do good options. Ecora in Belsize Park has the right idea with this unit packed with pretty tableware.
Get a bit of green in your life
You may not have any outside space and you’re not allowed pets but that doesn’t mean you can’t nurture something. Houseplants are having a moment and there are heaps of relatively low-maintenance options – you don’t want to peak too soon and lose confidence. Build your own window box, make a terrarium, or create a contemporary display with air plants. The House Gardener book (£25, CICO Books) has heaps of ideas for easy yet stylish projects.
A herb-filled kitchen
If you’ve got a kitchen window, likelihood is you have a kitchen window sill. This should not go to waste. Plant herbs in pots in a sunny spot and use them to impress in tasty dishes. Vintage wine boxes are another great planter option for a charming herb garden.
NB: If you’re renting long term an unfurnished property may well be preferable but most of these tips will work in both furnished and unfurnished homes.