No matter if you are an owner-occupier or renting, we all have an instinctive desire to create an individual space we can call “home”.
Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither is a house transformed into a home in 24 hours.
Adding unique, personal touches and arranging furniture and possessions to suit your taste takes time, a commodity that is often a question mark for those who rent.
Rental agreements can end unexpectedly and the last thing you want is to sink a lot of time and money into upgrades to a property, only to kiss them goodbye months later.
There can also be restrictions that apply to tenants when it comes to altering a property.
Most tenancy agreements will typically include a statement that go something like, “no renovations, alternations or additions can be made to the premises without the landlord’s written consent”.
So before making any substantial changes to your rental property, take the time to understand your tenancy agreement, and if necessary write to your landlord or property manager, outlining what you intend to do, including the timeframe.
Only proceed once you have received written approval, and understand any conditions that apply. For example, a landlord may ask that the property be returned to the original state if you were to leave. A wall may need to be repainted to its original colour, or a replaced light fitting to be refitted.
The bottom line is that while you may be seeking to renovate or decorate a home to your own preferences and comfort, a landlord wants to ensure the property remains attractive as possible as a rental, appealing to as many people as possible.
When it comes to renovations, the typical landlord’s mantra is, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
Understanding that as a tenant your investment in decorating and creating a homely environment is more than likely temporal, and/or subject to your landlord’s approval, what are some practical options?
Mobility is the key. Whatever investment you make, it’s preferable if you can take it with you.
If you are to change fixed or ceiling lighting, make sure no extra drilling is needed. The original lighting can then more easily be returned (make sure you hire a qualified electricity when required). Changing floor and table lamps is the easiest way to add a bright flourish of your own personality to a home.
2. Cupboard handles.
Updating kitchen or bathroom cupboard handles can immediately personalise or modernise a room. Store the original handles in a safe place to be returned in the event of your leaving.
3. Window dressings.
Because they are more open to the elements, curtains and blinds are often the most obvious candidates for upgrading in a rental property. Upgrading to fresh curtains or opting for the huge range of alternative window dressings now available, quickly revitalises a room and gives you the option of taking them with you if needed.
A tasteful rug or two can not only add colour and texture to a room, but cover worn floors whether timber, carpet, linoleum or tiles.
Keeping in mind that many landlords do not allow nails or wall hangings, there are alternative ways to decorate walls with your own style of artwork. There are special adhesive tape frames that do not lift paint when removed, or you can place art on top of cupboards, leaning against the wall. The options are endless.
6. Indoor plants and flowers.
Whether artificial or real, a modest amount of indoor plants and flowers can create warmth in a space that no amount of furniture and fittings can. Care needs to be taken that the bottom of pots and water do not stain flooring, but plants can become the ultimate mobile decoration.
7. Versatile furniture.
Choose furniture that is more likely to fit in any space or with a number of different colour schemes. For example, plain white or black furniture is preferable, as are lounge suites that can angle either left or right.
Although a cost effective way of dramatically improving the look and feel of a house, it can take a little elbow grease. Opting for a soft grey or warm white (rather than a dark colour) is less likely to lead to a landlord asking for a repaint when you leave.
By investing wisely in personalising your house with decorations and furnishings that are mobile and adaptable, you’ll be able to personalise wherever you may move, more quickly and with less cost.