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How to make your rental property feel more like home

1 September 2020

Want to make your rented property feel like it reflects who you are? Here’s how to create a sense of home without breaking any rules — or your budget.

Almost one third of Aussies live in rental properties, and it’s a trend that’s on the increase.

Just because you rent, however, doesn’t mean you can’t imbue your home with a greater sense of yourself.

“It’s important to really settle into your home, no matter how long you expect to be there, and make it work for how you live day-to-day,” says interiors stylist Diana Moore of Diana Moore Method. “And creating a haven at home in which to relax, recharge and take time out is a key factor in fostering our well-being.”

When you’re thinking about how to transform your rental, remember that structural changes will be off-limit. A cosmetic makeover — including painting walls or tiles in neutral shades, or updating light fittings — may be okay, but check with your landlord or agent before you begin any work. As a rule of thumb, if you replace something (tapware, for example), keep the originals just in case the agent wants them reinstated.

So, where to start? Here are a batch of easily achievable (and easy-on-the-pocket) ideas.

Paint it white

Painting walls, tiles and even kitchen cabinetry is a brilliant and cost-effective way to transform a rental with tired (or just plain ugly) paintwork. To keep the landlord or agent happy, “Stick to a neutral colour palette using white or natural tones,” Moore advises. Against that neutral backdrop, add colour via decorative elements to bring your sense of style to the space. “Think accents of duck-egg blue, driftwood and sea glass for coastal calm. Black and neutrals will create a modern monochrome look, or choose a retro palette with dirty reds, olive greens and a touch of orange.”

Bright ideas

Don’t underestimate how much a great light fitting will impact the look of a room. And you don’t have to spend a fortune, either. “It’s so easy to pimp your overhead lights with a funky and affordable new fitting from big retailers or homewares stores,” Moore says. “Choose a burst of colour or a natural texture, then carefully store the originals just in case you need to swap them back.” Table and standing lamps also add great ambience and, when you move, are easily transportable.

Art of the matter

“Hanging art is the best way to elevate your interior decorating and bring a sense of who you are to a home,” Moore says. “If you’re lucky enough to have picture rails, get things on the walls as soon as you can. If you don’t, lean larger prints and paintings on sideboards or shelves or stick to smaller objects grouped together on a wall using removable hooks.” Browse op shops and vintage stores for great cheap frames and swap in your own artworks — your kids’ masterpieces might be ideal.

A fast four

Finally, Moore suggests these quick fixes:

  • Layer rugs over ugly carpet or, if you’re planning to stay long-term, consider installing floating timber flooring over tiles.
  • Upgrade kitchen or bathroom tapware. “Just ensure you swap like-with-like fittings and positioning, such as separate hot and cold taps versus a mixer tap”.
  • Removable wallpaper is a great way to create a feature wall or hide unsightly paint colours or finishes.
  • A funky shower curtain, a grout pen and a fabulous pot plant can transform a dingy bathroom in a weekend.

Get savvy with saving

If you’ve set a short-term saving goal for, say, a house-wide repaint or some new fixtures, having a separate account to add small amounts of cash to can help. A Suncorp Bank Everyday Options account lets you create up to nine sub-accounts, so you can have a “Patch and paint fund”, a “Furniture fund” and a “Just for me fund” for the fun stuff.

Learn more about sub-accounts

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Information is intended to be of a general nature only and any advice has been prepared without taking into account any person's particular objectives, financial situation or needs. You should make your own enquiries, consider whether advice is appropriate for you and read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement or Product Information Document before making any decisions about whether to acquire a product.

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