Vrinda Mathur, Interior designer, Studio Wood,New Delhi
Sometimes a rented accommodation can feel like a 12-month contract – a place you can cook, sleep and socialise in, but not really feel at home. That’s because many tenants, in the pursuit of buying their own homes, stop from spending on decorating their rented flats. However, dressing up a rented home doesn’t have to be a Herculean task, or one that breaks the bank. A few simple solutions can perk up the place and make it look cheery, welcoming and spirited.
Consider vinyl flooring
In most rented apartments, re-flooring can be tricky. If your landlord agrees to it, consider laying printed vinyls on the floor to create some patterns or even a seamless plain colour. Add lots of pretty rugs on top.
Play with colours
rented home, I recommend using pastel hues on the walls as this gives the bare walls a fresh look and the house a lively vibe.
Use DIY art
This is an interesting hack – instead of putting up expensive art on walls, consider creating your own. This doesn’t mean you have to be an artist. Just collect small objects like dry leaves, pebbles and put them together inside simple white or black box frames to give the artworks some definition.
For furniture, I am not a big fan of thrifting – that is, buying things cheap from thrift shops. Instead, look at repurposing your good-quality old furniture. Give the pieces a new coat of paint for a fresh look.
Use printed upholstery
Consider reupholstering furniture with printed fabrics to lift up the drab-looking pieces you might have received from the landlord.
Keep it clean
Lastly, go minimal. Get rid of the stuff you don’t need. Keep the corners clean and green with plants kept in baskets or holders. Add lots of accent lights through side lamps, floor lamps and so on.
Extra space is always in demand. Instead of adding overhead units and cabinets (that come with extra cost) in the living room, try adding smart storage with slender pull-out tall units built into walls or kept in corners, which can hold all the clutter of the house.
Hang a statement light fixture
Don’t hesitate to replace old fixtures with the lighting you love, since you can easily take these pieces with you wherever you move. Good lighting pieces add a lot of life and character to a space.
Choose unexpected furnishings
If your rented home has white or cream walls (like most apartments in India do) and you aren’t allowed to paint them, consider adding printed rugs, brightly coloured stools, artwork, curtains, upholstery or other draperies to break up all the white. The effect will be eye-catching, layered and surprisingly rich. If paintings seem to be an expensive option, try textured wallpapers to add glamour. You can add personality to a dull wall by making it a DIY photo wall.
Setting up a folding screen or a artsy drape is a quick and inexpensive way to create private, intimate spaces in a studio apartment.
This is the most budget-friendly way to make your house look good and well put together. Consider buying antiques from local flea markets or thrift shops – these attract attention and make for great centrepieces.
My number-one advice is to buy pieces that you love and that speak to you. Think like a collector. This way it will always find a place in your home, no matter where and how many homes you move. And it will evoke nostalgia and make for a lovely conversation starter.
Make paint and lighting your friends
There is nothing that can make more impact in a small budget than a can of paint. Think of adding a coat of dark paint on a bedroom wall for a moody feel or paint your living room a soft neutral to make it look larger. Good lighting in any space is crucial. Table lamps and floor lamps can be added to any space to dramatically change the look and feel of the room.
Don’t be afraid to spend
A common mistake most people make is to not spend on their rented homes and keep waiting for the home they will buy. But what happens is that the rental you live in doesn’t reflect your taste or personality, and does not even feel like your home. Consider spending on moveable items that you love, whether it’s a piece of furniture, art or lighting. If these pieces are reflective of you, they will move with you and fit into any home you shift to. That said, we, as people, evolve and so does our design sensibility. So if you outgrow something, sell it or lose it and make way for the new.