I moved into my first rental when I came down to Brighton for university back in 2010. That means I’ve been renting for the past 7 years, and with the likelihood of buying a property looking bleaker by the second, I’ve learnt a few tips & tricks for making rented properties feel like home!
A few months ago, Helen & I moved into a lovely little one bedroom flat in the middle of Brighton. Here’s where renting definitely has its good points, as we would never be able to afford to live in a flat like this, even if the UK’s housing situation wasn’t in such a state. It even has a garden, which is practically unheard of in this city!
Though the ‘decorating’ technically comes after moving day, you can begin to gather ideas before you start looking, and use them to find somewhere that’s perfect for you. Of course, you’ll have your own wishlist (we really wanted a garden & separate kitchen/living area!), but here are a few things to look out for when choosing your new rented home:
Neutral & versatile decor
Plain white walls might seem stark and uninspired to begin with, but they provide a perfect blank canvas for you to style however you like. No colour is off limits with a white base (there’s nothing worse than a bright red feature wall when you’re a pastel princess like me), but anything neutral/light would also be a good option. When it comes to flooring, I find that wooden or faux wood floors tend to be the most versatile, and you can always dress them up with rugs if you like the feeling of carpet under your toes.
Unfurnished or part furnished
I personally prefer an unfurnished home, as I can add personality by filling it with my own furniture and accessories. Whilst it seems a bit pointless to spend money decorating the structural parts of a rental property, your furniture is something you can take with you when you leave, so there’s no reason not to buy/upcycle your own. Some properties have a ‘part furnished’ option which may also suit you, as you can choose what you’d like the landlord to include.
Good sized & well proportioned
This is something to look for when viewing any property, not specifically a rental, but it’s so important to make sure the rooms are large enough to accommodate your needs. Beware of viewing properties that have already been emptied, as spaces always feel a lot bigger without furniture; I’d even advise taking a tape measure if you can! You should also consider the shape of the rooms and any permanent fixtures (such as fireplaces), as they can restrict furniture and layout options.
Built-in storage features
Built-in storage is a lifesaver when you’re renting! It takes the place of bulky furniture, and – as landlords rarely let you make structural changes – is really important to check before you move in. You can also use it to hide any mess when the landlord comes round (not me, of course…). We are lucky enough to have two built-in wardrobes in the bedroom (one each!) and a big storage cupboard in the bathroom. Whilst I would have loved some shelving in the living room, beggars can’t be choosers, and I think we’ve got a pretty good deal!
Once you’ve found your perfect rental property (and finally got over the moving day stress!), it’s time for the really fun part – decorating your new home! Look out for my tips on furnishing & accessorising a rented space in part 2 (coming very soon)!