When you have just rented a new flat or apartment, the last thing you want to do is have to spend more on furniture or interior decoration, particularly with rent rates so high.
In 2020, for example, London was ranked as one of the 10 most expensive European cities to live in. Average rents vary, of course, according to location and type of property but a one-bedroom flat averages around £758 if you live in the city and £614 if you live in the suburbs. These rates don’t necessarily include utilities either – no wonder then that flat sharing is the only way to go in most instances. And who has lots of cash left over to splash out on expensive interior decor?
So what can you do to make a rented property feel like home without spending a fortune? Here are some tips you might find helpful.
Buy the best quality furniture you can afford
Tempting as it is to dash off to IKEA, if you’re looking for a more personal touch then it’s worth spending the minimum on basics such as chairs, tables and lamps but investing a little more in your bed, mattress and bedding.
Go Second Hand
Ask your family and friends if they are looking to pass any furniture on. You could also try Freecycle or there are car boot sales and charity shops, as well as Gumtree.
You may find a bargain – or even a valuable antique!
Be generous with the soft furnishings
My personal philosophy is you can never have too many throws and cushions. (The Husband does not subscribe to this philosophy so a lot of ‘negotiation’ goes on)!
Soft furnishings can add quirkiness and warmth to a room, whether it’s an unusual curtain design or an extra cosy rug.
Just remember if you hold lots of curry parties to buy things you can clean easily!
Asthma and allergy sufferers may be better off dispensing with old carpet (with the landlord’s permission), polishing up a wood floor and adding rugs.
Get the paint brushes out
If you’re stuck in a magnolia hell then (again with the landlord’s permission), a repaint might be on the cards. Just remember that dark colours will make a room look smaller whilst lighter colours will enhance the space.
Using mirrors will help make the space look lighter and brighter too.
If you’re rubbish at painting (as I am), hold a painting party and reward your mates’ artistic efforts with pizza and some chilled beers.
Add some art
Hanging pictures makes a huge difference to a room and if you’re arty why not paint a few canvases of your own. You can make some pretty simple but effective-looking paintings using acrylic paints or, again, see if you can find some interesting pieces at local charity or antique shops, craft fairs, or sales.
A great way of covering a large area of wall if you don’t want to repaint is with a wall mural. You’ll find plenty of companies offering this service online.
There’s a vast range of designs to choose from – anything from racing cars to cities like New York and traditional art and landscapes – or upload your own photo. Simply attach to the wall with the special reusable adhesive supplied.
The wall murals come in a variety of sizes and some companies even have a “view your room” function to see what it will look like in your room.
Bring the garden indoors
You can get reasonably priced bunches of flowers from your local supermarket these days or just keep it simple using one seasonal flower as a theme – Snowdrops for February, Daffodils for March, etc. Display them in mismatched vases or vintage glass bottles.
Or create a mini indoor garden by growing herbs in quirky pots and canisters. Just remember not to leave sensitive plants on a sunny windowsill and remember to water them (something I am terrible at!).
You can’t go too far wrong with the student staples of Spider plants and Cacti!
Get a candlelit glow
There’s nothing like candles and tea lights for adding atmosphere. You could even make your own scented teacup candles using your favourite essential oils – they make lovely presents too.
So there you have it – some cheap and cheerful ideas to make your space your own. Just remember to check your tenancy agreement before you start making any material changes and make sure that you are able to take your new purchases with you when you move on.
What tips would you add to this list?