So you’ve moved into your own gaff and you’re adulting like a pro. But even though there are certain things about the place you don’t exactly love, as a tenant you’ll just have to live with them, right? Wrong. Actually there are tons of easy, affordable and reversible changes you can make to turn your space from dreary to dreamy, without risking the wrath of your landlord or your deposit.
Dealing with a boring, bland bedroom
Your bedroom is the most important room to get right, especially when it’s the only space you can escape to when your housemates’ habits get too much.
First, the bed. If you can afford it, replace the mattress and treat yourself to some lovely linen, a throw and some cushions. We don’t want to sound like your mum, but remember to keep it made and fresh, otherwise it will never be an inviting place to spend time in.
A colourful rug will hide even the grottiest of carpets, hang some art or photographs and some artfully-placed lamps and scented candles are a cheap shortcut to a calm and happy space.
Learn some sneaky storage tricks. Stuffing everything in the wardrobe and under the bed will only work for so long so get some stylish boxes in. They come in all shapes, sizes, colours and patterns and will work as a design feature in their own right.
Most rented kitchens are awful…
But even if you’re not allowed to re-paint, or dump any of those rusty old appliances, there are plenty of smaller, more affordable changes that can do battle with a bad kitchen.
You can start by freshening up the presses and drawers with some new knobs and getting some fresh flowers in. New tea towels and some wall art will give an instant update, and storing basics like tea bags, pasta and sugar in smart-looking jars will make the place look much tidier.
And for that professional look, hang your knives and utensils on a magnetic rack.
Rented bathrooms tend to be even worse.
But the good news is it’s easy to add your own style to even the most basic of bathrooms.
Start with a deep clean, and then look at the finer details. Shower curtains, towels and bathroom mats come in tons of different colours and patterns, and are a cheap way to update the room and make it feel like yours.
Get some sophisticated decals, or wall stickers, which are a great way to temporarily personalise a bland bathroom and cover up any less-than-perfect grouting.
Finally add some greenery and get some nice storage jars and baskets for cotton wool balls, toiletries and other essentials, all little touches that will take it from grimy to gorgeous in no time.
When even your bestie refuses to come over…
It’s probably time to sort out your living room. If the sofa and chairs have removable covers, wash them and replace any tired flat cushions with some brightly coloured new ones. Remember, throws are your friend. They hide everything.
Declutter, getting rid of all those old magazines, remote controls and other assorted items that have built up in the coffee table drawers and shelves over the years. A wooden ladder makes a nice impromptu bookshelf — and a great place for plants, or to hang art if you can’t put holes in the walls.
Finally, pay attention to wires – there are tons of products out there to tidy, detangle or hide them altogether, which will make a huge difference to the look and feel of the room.
Spruce up your outdoor space
In a rented gaff, the outdoor space is often the most unloved. So if you’re lucky enough to have a garden, patio or balcony, give it some love.
Get a broom to sweep any cobwebs, leaves or dirt away. Give any seating, tables and lighting a good wipe down and throw away any dead or broken plants. If there’s a shed, get rid of anything left over by previous tenants. Just make sure you check with your landlord before sending anything off to the dump.
Gardening is good for the soul
Even better, it can be done inside or out. If you don’t know where to start, a kitchen garden is easy to cultivate. All you need are some herbs, a pair of scissors, a pruner and a nice looking planter.
And when you’re ready to take it outside, go for a walk and see what’s in your neighbours’ gardens. This will give you a good idea of the kind of plants that can grow in your area. Remember, if you’re not going to be in your gaff for the long haul, you should grow everything in containers. This means when you move you can just take them with you.
Finally, talk to your landlord.
If you really can’t live with something, have a chat with your landlord. As long as your proposed change doesn’t involve excavating the basement or painting the whole place black, they might agree to your proposal. They might even offer to foot the bill.