I imagine there’ll be a few people going “why is she writing about this? I thought she just talked about books and allergies”. Well, let me tell you – I am the queen of making rented accommodation a home. Well, not the queen, but I’m pretty darn skilled at it.
From university accommodation to living in a student house, to renting a flat with my boyfriend, and now living with him and two housemates in a real house, I’ve been in rented accommodation for well over five years. I know how tough it is to make a beige, empty place look like a home, without breaking out the paint and drill-bits (we all want our deposit back, after all). As a big ol’ introvert, home really is my safe space, so it needs to look like one. So, with five years of experience under my belt, let me show you how I make my rented accommodation truly my own home.
Let’s face the first hurdle everyone will come across; walls. Hear me out. Every place I’ve lived in has had the same cream-beige mix on the walls, that chips and scuffs easily, and looks like the colour of cold porridge. It’s easy to repaint for the landlord, but it doesn’t leave you with the most homey vibe, which is what you are going for here. My initial reaction to this would be to say ‘get those picture hooks in and make a feature wall!’ but I know not everyone’s accommodation will allow that – don’t you worry, I’ve got you covered too.
First up, the feature wall. It’s cheap and easy to make; mine is made of pictures I’ve collected over the years and with frames and hooks from Poundland! Plan out where you want the pictures to go, hammer in the hooks (at an acceptable hour, not at two am you heathens), and get placing. If your landlord isn’t keen on you putting too many holes in their walls, then try a peg board. I got this one from IKEA, and only needs two small screws. You can get different add ons for the board, including hooks, clips, and shelves, making it super multi-purpose.
Finally, if your landlord refuses to let you put hooks in the walls, there are other ways to decorate your walls with art and memories. Yes, you can go down the route of Command Strips and Blue or WhiteTac (but I’ve had too many bad experiences with them peeling paint and leaving greasy marks). My hidden tip would be to use drawing pins. Sure, they won’t hold up frames or anything remotely heavy, but you can pin canvases or coverings to the wall with ease. Personally, I love putting up pins, winding string around them, and using wooden pegs; viola, a makeshift board to hang your pictures!
Now you’ve got pictures of your holidays and prints from a Wes Anderson film hung wonkily on your wall, it’s time for my favourite room in the house; the kitchen. My kitchens have always been either shared and hard to make look homely, or absolutely teeny-weenie-tiny. Either way, you’ve got to make the most of the cupboard space, and it’s not a good look to have random baking trays and Tupperware living on the counter-tops.
My favourite homey tip is to invest in a spice rack (I bought the above one from Amazon!). Not only is it immensely aesthetically pleasing, it also leaves a lot of space in your cupboards for pots and pans. Plus, it lines up with the wall so barely takes up any space. I’m also a stickler for having a little box by the oven that I keep all my oils, salts, and other daily essentials in. It’ll save you rooting around in the cupboards each time for what you need. Plus, it makes me feel like a chef in the Bon Appetit Test Kitchen, so that’s a win.
While you can mostly control what goes into your rented accommodation (if you are in an unfurnished place that is), you can’t control what the place is built like. Enter aging windows, crumbly walls, wonky doors, and sloped ceilings. In my current house, my bedroom is in an attic conversion – a.k.a my bedroom is made up of low ceilings, angled walls, and has resulted in many trips to A&E with beam-induced concussion. As such, I have no space for a real wardrobe – it simply won’t fit anywhere. So, I bought myself a clothing rack. It’s a bit more of a minimalist/high-fashion/open-plan style than I’m used to, but hey ho. It only houses officewear, dresses, and clothes that are prone to crease, but it leaves space for tees and trousers in our chest of drawers.
In all honesty, the more you can do to a place, the more options you will have. But realistically, making a rented accommodation a home boils down to adding character to the place. This doesn’t have to be by hammering things in, or buying new furniture. Add some houseplants to a window sill to add shapes and colour to a room. Wrap fairy lights around your bed frame because you like them. Choose the colour scheme of a room by adding pillows and blankets in a colour you like. Surround yourself in the things you love, no matter how big or small, and it will soon feel like a home.
I can anticipate more years of living in rented accommodation so I’ll always be learning and finding new ways to make a home of where I live. Let me know what your tips are for making a place feel like a home; I’d love to know!