When you rent – part one
Tuesday we had a little snow, we get excited down south when that happens because it doesn't snow very often it's been cold and icy which means I've only ventured into the garden a few times to check on my bulb shoots and my seeds are still firmly in their packets, I can't wait for warmer weather so that I can get my bicycle out and do a little exercise!
More and more people are renting nowadays and after a conversation with a colleague who has just started to rent, I decided to do a post on how to decorate when you rent but it turned into a rather long 4 page list of dos and donts, so I thought I’d split it up into two parts. Starting with the basics, what you have and what you need. At some point in our lives most of us have spent some time in a rental, and decorating can be more challenging when you can’t change the most basic things in the property, namely the walls and the floors.
Renting in the UK is totally different to renting in the US. It seems that in the US, you can swap out the carpets, paint the kitchen cabinets and change the hardware, knock as many holes in the walls as you like whilst putting up your gallery wall and well, pretty much do as you wish. The reality check here in the UK is that most renters don’t have that luxury. And putting holes in walls for even one or two pictures is usually met with horror unless your landlord is cool and totally on board with you, but it’s usually a definitive NO! Renters have to live with what they've got; usually magnolia walls and brown or cream wall to wall carpets throughout. Cream I can live with, but a dark carpet can feel depressing and cave like.
Because you don’t own the space, you might feel you shouldn't bother with the furniture either, since it’s not your own home and perhaps when you do eventually move into your flat or house, those pieces won’t fit the new house. What’s worse, sometimes you sit with furniture that has to remain in the house permanently….this is slightly different and more of a student housing issue, but for the sake of this post, let’s assume that you are living in a totally empty home. A blank canvas ready to be coloured in.
Now here’s the thing with Magnolia paint, it’s one of those colours that is neither here nor there and depending on the light, can make a room look yellow. And it’s the number one colour in most rental properties in the UK. Who am I kidding, even new houses are painted out in this colour! It’s not white and it’s not a creamy taupe, in other words it’s a difficult colour to work with. If you live in a rental and your walls are white, you are one lucky soul! We recently did a home renovation project and we painted out all the walls in this lovely blue grey which is just so light and bright and welcoming…I wonder when property developers are going to get on board with colour and get rid of the 1960s Magnolia trend….
When you rent, and you’re stuck with certain elements that you can’t change, you need to be more creative about how you decorate so that the space feels like it’s your home and less like a transitory place to lay your head. Although I love Ikea, who doesn’t? Furnishing your entire home with Ikea pieces doesn’t give it much character. Mixing high street pieces with a little vintage or antique pieces or even going full out modern if that’s your style, will make your space look more interesting. Most people who rent already have a few pieces of furniture before they move in. You might have a bed, table lamps, a sofa, a coffee table and a few side tables and most definitely a TV. So you’ve got the basics. But the basics aren’t what you’d like to live with in your happily ever after house, they are just interim pieces that fill the void until you are ready for the big spend a few years down the line. These items need to work in your new space while you save up for that original Mies van der Rohe armchair…but I'll chat about that in more detail next time.
Now that I’ve blabbed about the downside to rental homes and all the pitfalls of Magnolia and bad carpets, here are a few pics from some of my Pinterest boards to get you thinking about your space.
Next time I’ll share the ‘how get a rental house to work for you’ with lots of ideas and inspiration pics!