My boyfriend and I moved in together earlier this year, and we weren’t ready to buy yet so decided to rent. When we decided to rent I was concerned at how limited we would be in terms of making it feel like our home and not someone else’s.
The property we went for is an adorable two bedroom, back to back house with a little front garden. It was however, not so adorable inside. While the people before us were very happy here for a long time it was just not our taste at all.
Here’s how it looks now:
PAINT IT BLACK, I MEAN WHITE.
The first thing I did before we signed the dotted line, was to clarify with the landlord whether or not she would be happy for us to repaint the house inside. Had she said no, we wouldn’t have gone for the property. She was happy to oblige so once we were in the property we immediately set about painting.
Although the house is south facing there are some awkward corners which seemed to absorb the light and create dark little spaces. I knew whatever colour we chose had to bring some freshness to the space. Controversially I used Brilliant White in my last property but it looked insanely good.
I spent hours a few years ago swatching different shades of white from different brands. I tried everything. The subtle variations were plentiful but not one of them was what I would call WHITE. And that’s what I wanted.
I got so fed up that I went to B&Q and bought a giant pot of Dulux Trade Supermatt White. It’s now my go-to white paint.
Now one thing to consider with this is that it’s not the most durable. As this is a rental I wanted something that we wouldn’t need to keep retouching so I chose Dulux Brilliant White Matt Emulsion. It’s got more of a soft sheen finish and therefore you can wipe down any scuffs that may appear in high traffic areas.
The way the light catches the paint totally alters the feel of the white. In our living room it has produced a very soft, almost bridal white. It’s gorgeous.
The bedrooms are the brightest rooms in the house so when I tested the white in there it was a little too harsh. So I went for Dulux White Mist which in my opinion is an exceptional dupe for Farrow & Ball Ammonite.
Ammonite vs White Mist
I really hate Farrow & Ball, I find the consistency watery and the finish patchy. It takes a good few coats to get decent coverage and it costs a fortune, so it didn’t tick any of our boxes for a rental property.
Again we went for a soft sheen finish. Not only does this mean it’s more durable which is ideal in a rental but it ever so slightly reflects the light.
Although in photos it doesn’t seem like there’s a huge difference between this colour and the living room walls, in person the bedrooms are soothing, calm and sanctuary like thanks to the removal of the loud wallpaper and the serene, neutral grey.
If you don’t have the luxury of painting, the biggest difference can be made by changing up the curtains and cushions in a room.
We haven’t been able to change the curtain poles in our property due to the way they have been fitted (argh) but if you’re able to easily unscrew and replace them I would absolutely recommend this as although it’s a small feature it makes a big difference.
In the bedroom there were some thick heavy curtains. We have replaced these with some dove grey voile panels. It offers just the right amount of privacy without blocking too much light. It also helps with the softness of the overall room.
Downstairs we have also swapped the curtains for some off white blackout curtains. Again, a world of difference from what was there before.
I’m not sure I should go into too much detail on cushions. If you ask my other half why he would probably tell you that I have a problem.
OK, I DO.
I can’t help myself. I have this thing with cushions. Most people it’s a shoe or handbag addiction, but for me it’s cushions. The difference that a new set of cushions can make to a room is huge. I like to mix patterns and fabrics to give the sofa depth and interest.
Don’t feel as though everything has to be ‘matchy matchy’. A good bit of colour mixing can add personality to the blandest of spaces.
My major tip with cushions is to always replace the cushion pads. You can buy faux-feather cushion pads/inserts on eBay, and you should always get them an inch or two bigger than the size of the cushion cover. This way you’ll have ridiculously plump and squishy cushions to drive into for your Netflix binge.
What could feel more homely than that!
Generally changing light fittings can be a pain in the arse. But you can get really good and affordable ‘easyfit’ light shades now on the high street or online. These are super simple to change and require no rewiring.
The chandelier in my bedroom cost £30 and was from The Range. It looks super expensive though and everyone always comments on it! It’s just the right amount of feminine for the room while the antique brass effect pleases the boy.
Without this, the room simply wouldn’t feel right and it really does make it feel like it’s our bedroom and our home, and not that we’re living in someone else’s house.
The original ceiling shades are stored away safely in the loft so that whenever we do move out, we can simply replace them with no drama.
There’s a weird thing about renting. Or homes in general actually. Everyone knows that a home has a…smell. They just do. When I was younger I went round someone’s house for tea and I distinctly remember how much it smelled like soup. I thought, oh no, we’re having soup for dinner? Really? I kept waiting for the dreaded soup to come out but it never did. We actually had chicken nuggets, chips and beans and it was amazing. It was just their home that smelled like soup.
Most home smell pleasant but they all smell different and it’s due to a whole variety of things, not least the people that live there. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a bad smell for a place to not feel like yours when you walk through the door.
When I move house the very first thing I do is plug in a diffuser, and light my favourite candles. I’m an avid candle fan so light them most nights, but the diffuser will work 24/7 to slowly cover up any previous tenants smell. Soon enough when you walk through the door it will smell like home. DW Home candles are my absolute favourite and you can buy them from TK Maxx/Homesense.
My current favourite!
Please avoid Yankee Candles. They are known for their not so reliable reporting on toxins and their products frequently get recalled as a health and safety hazard. They are also incredibly overpriced and don’t actually smell when you’re burning them.
A little tip on candles. Buy a wick trimmer. It seems like a totally unnecessary purchase, but each time you burn a candle you should trim the wick before. That way you get a clean flame and no smog marks on the walls!
This gets better and better the longer you live there, but it’s a good way to speed things up.
Another way to do it which would be my boyfriend’s method is to stink out the house with bacon. As a vegetarian this isn’t my preference although the smell of bacon is pretty glorious nonetheless. Each to their own!
This has made the biggest difference in our home. I’ve never had many personal photos on the walls before but I felt it was important when renting so I made a conscious decision to get photos developed and into frames. We bought a load of frames from Ikea as they are the most cost effective and simple.
Even if you’re not using personal photographs, hanging art and prints that you love or ones that inspire you will mean the property will show glimpses of your personality and therefore make it more individual to you.
If you’re worried about damage to walls then invest in these Command Hanging Strips, they are unbelievably good. Just make sure you get the weights correct as I made that very costly mistake once when I attempted to hang a mirror using them….