Home improvement: Generation Rent can still get creative with their interior design

Herringbone Ash textured self adhesive wallpaper by Tempaper

Herringbone Ash textured self adhesive wallpaper by Tempaper - Credit: Archant

Home ownership is at its lowest level for 25 years but just because Generation Rent don’t have a mortgage, does not mean they don’t care what their living space looks like. Here Ellen Widdup, who rented for more than a decade, looks at how to add the personal touch without upsetting the landlord.

Honeycome wallpaper from Tempaper

Honeycome wallpaper from Tempaper - Credit: Archant

They say an Englishman’s home is his castle.

Cushion cover from Habitat

Cushion cover from Habitat - Credit: Archant

A place to daub your favourite colour, cram with your chosen knick-knacks and festoon with personal belongings.

Stag wall art from notonthehighstreet

Stag wall art from notonthehighstreet - Credit: Archant

But what happens if that castle belongs to someone else?

Bus wall sticker from notonthehighstreet

Bus wall sticker from notonthehighstreet - Credit: Archant

With a rise in the number of people renting in the UK, this is quite a conundrum.

Pinocchio Multi Colour Round Rug by HAY

Pinocchio Multi Colour Round Rug by HAY - Credit: Archant

So how can Generation Rent go about creating a stylish home which won’t upset the landlord?

A house or a home?

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Most renters have at least one horror story when it comes to the properties they have inhabited.

And during my decade as part of the pack I’ve got plenty – including dealing with difficult estate agents, mouse infestations and a case of rising damp that made Rigsby’s seedy bedsit in the popular sitcom look positively palatial.

But renting needn’t be all doom and gloom.

After all, you never have to pay to replace a broken boiler or washing machine, do you?

And there are ways to put your individual stamp on a property and transform it from a house to a home.

Start as you mean to go on

Most landlords are happy for their properties to be redecorated.

The sensible ones will even see it as a way to get a make-over for free.

The last thing they want is an empty investment and if you are willing to give it a bit of TLC this demonstrates you are a) in it for the long haul and b) intend to look after it as if it were your own.

Try to agree the terms of the redecoration at the start of your tenancy. This saves you a headache later on.

A word from the experts

According to Jojo Humes Brown, décor expert from Woodbridge, the rental market is a big thing in interior design circles right now.

Many companies are following in the footsteps of Ikea to develop bespoke and adaptable furniture solutions.

And even in the realms of wallpaper – something that would make most landlords shudder – there are now temporary rolls and can be easily removed at the end of a tenancy.

“If you don’t own your own home and want the luxury of pattern and texture, there is a solution,” said Jojo.

“There are papers available on the internet which are great for this situation and can be stuck to the wall and are easily peeled off when you leave.

“This allows tenants a level of flexibility in decorating that they have never had before.”

Designer Rhonda Deal is an expert in home staging – a technique that could be applied to dressing a rental property.

She says the key to making a rented pad feel like home is to accessorize.

“Accessories are the key to making any home look attractive and inviting,” she said. “I think every room should have a focal point and furniture, pictures and accessories look best placed in a symmetrical manner to create a balanced atmosphere.”

Top tips for renters

• Choose unfurnished

The best way to make your house feel like home is to fill it with your own belongings. Opt for an unfurnished property and fill with furniture to suit your taste and budget.

•Get creative

If you are stuck with the home-owner’s furniture, change the soft furnishings. Try making your own curtains and throws in fabrics you love.

• Use wall stickers

Wall stickers – such as the vast selection from Not On The High Street – are a brilliant temporary solution. Simply apply to the wall and when you leave, give them a blast of hot air from a hairdryer and they peel off without mess.

• Cover up

Flooring tends to be overlooked by landlords because it is so expensive. And as a tenant, you’re not going to want to rip out carpets yourself. Invest in large rugs that hide stains and can be taken with you when you move on. By doing so, you also protect yourself from further dirtying the carpet and losing the deposit.

• Get painting

Ask your landlord if they would be happy for you to paint. Most are obliging, as long as you paint it back to the original colour before you leave.

• Display art and photos

If you have picture rails, you can hang and re-hang pictures to your heart’s content. If not look at buying some no-hole picture hanging strips.

• Light it up

Invest in lamps, or even just funky lampshades to place over the landlord’s lamps to brighten up your space. Add mirrors which give the illusion of more space.

• Tread carefully

New research of 1,000 renters by Heart of House at Argos has revealed that a third of tenants have lost hundreds of pounds by making changes to their rental property without asking their landlord’s permission. Make sure you read your contract thoroughly before making alterations and seek your landlord’s permission – in writing – before you head to the DIY store. Rhonda Deal is an interior designer and home stager working across Suffolk and Norfolk. For more information visit www.rd-homestaging.co.uk

Check out www.tempaper.com for more information.