You never know how long you might be staying.
Living in rental properties is fast becoming more of a long term thing for many young professionals, families and sharers across the world. In NYC it’s very common to rent for many years. In the UK, not so much. Until now. In the ever more challenging world of paying off student loans, getting a mortgage, interest rates rising and simply not having the funds for a big enough deposit; renting is the more realistic option for many.
Renting doesn’t mean not making a place your own. Sure, it also means that my mantra of slow design isn’t always fitting in every single space. But elements of this concept can still be used, whilst creating the space in which you want to live.
In earlier posts I’ve expressed my dismay at the comment, “Oh, we’ll just get an interim sofa/chair/shelf until we find the right one”. Well, I am equally dismayed by the MANY homes I’ve been in, that are rentals when I’m told “We are only renting this place, so we can’t really be bothered to invest, even though we hate it.” Agh, another little piece of my stylist self dies. Why on earth not?! There are so many ways in which to spruce up a rental property without breaking the bank. When I think about investing, it’s not only investing in a home but investing in your daily enjoyment of it and comfort in it, right now. Living in the moment.
On the whole, it doesn’t take much money to add a lick of paint, some plants, a rug here and there. There are many things you can do to make a house a home. I’m not saying re -fit the bathroom, but if you simply can’t live with it – paint it. If the front door is just too awful to look at on a daily basis. Paint it. Hang up some art. You can quite easily replace light fixtures, store the existing ones and once it’s time to move on, take your fixtures with you. And here, is the very element of taking time with design. This may not be your forever home, but it might well be your forever chandelier that you stumble upon in a bustling flea market one day. You simply can’t walk past it. Invest in it. Once you bring it home, don’t let it gather dust, enjoy it in the here and the now. I’ve done this so many times with curios, lights or furniture and each time I put them into a new space, they are redefined and I love them even more.
There is no point in not creating your ideal nest even if you can’t own it just yet. You still have to live in it every day for 12 months, 24 months even 36 months or more.
Investing in items to plan for your future home can also be satisfying, fun and useful for spreading out costs when you do finally move. You can make smart choices with certain items. Like a sofa or dining table that will fit into multiple spaces, or is changeable in size and configuration when you move. Falling in love with an old chair, or a unique piece of art means you can bring it with you to re-style into your new home. We can be collectors without being hoarders.. I’m sure of it..
Here are a few things I’ve done in previous rentals that didn’t break the bank and made me feel completely at home, like I’d put my own touch on the place.
- Ripped up the carpets and polished the floorboards. Ok, this is extreme but the carpets were old. I ended up living in this space for seven years in Bondi. COST – $1000. I got years to live with easy to clean beautifully styled hardwood floors. If your carpets are old and not adding anything, maybe you can just live with painting the floorboards if your homeowner agrees.
- Replaced light fittings in kitchens and living rooms.. almost ALL the time! COST – whatever your fixture costs and perhaps a small fee for an electrician for a couple of hours. But these lights are an investment.
- Wallpaperd master bedroom. Again, possibly a little drastic for some. But I loved this room, oh so much. We put the paper up ourselves and so it was only the cost of the paper. I kept an extra couple of rolls so I could do a space in our forever home if there ever came the day. If this is just too scary, maybe try temporary wallpaper. It’s not such a commitment but is just as much fun.
- Painted bathrooms galore. COST – only the cost of the paint and your hard labour.
- Hung my own window treatments… these can be brought with you or sold on if ever the time comes.
- Gardens – If you want to add foliage, grow herbs, fruit, even plant a tree – make sure you use big moveable planters.. that way you can make your very own garden a little nomadic and bring it with you.
I’ve loved all the rental properties I’ve had over the years.. but honestly, the moment I’ve loved them all most, is when I’m just about to leave. I start to tear away the layers of everything I built there visually and emotionally and realise what a labour of love it is, and that I will never, ever stop.
Photo credits Tara Striano and Dane Tashima