How to own that feeling of home as a renter

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Renting is no barrier to having a place with personality. Pictures: Ikea

One of the biggest challenges faced by renters is trying to make a place feel like their own.

It’s easy to be restricted by wall colours and window furnishings that can’t be changed and overwhelmed when forced to work around existing flooring, architectural features and room layouts that aren’t to your liking.

But as the head of interior design for Ikea in Australia, Tiffany Buckins, explains, a rental home doesn’t have to feel like a rental home — it all comes down to the way you decorate.

“To define spaces that reflect who you are, you first need to stand back and think about the things you enjoy doing at home and how you want each space to feel,” Ms Buckins said.

“Then, spend the time to tell your story through really great pieces that show off your character and personal style.”

Here, she shares some decorating ideas renters can use to feel right at home.

Choose pieces that show off your personal style.

Double helping

Gone are the days of simply using one rug to define a space. Ms Buckins said it was more interesting to layer them.

“It’s a simple way to take the focus off tired carpet or ugly flooring because the rugs become the focal point instead,” she said.

Try pairing a patterned rug or faux cow hide with a solid-coloured, natural-fibre rug or handwoven wool design for a striking look that Ms Buckins said would add warmth and texture.

Layering rugs will disguise the floor and add texture.


A rug will also help define a zone within a room.



Grow your way

One idea to disguise an unsightly blind was to place a plant stand or two in front of the window and layer the stand with pots of various heights.

Ms Buckins said stands with white or light-coloured wood frames were her top picks because the interplay of natural light with the soft tones and greenery provided a fresh and inviting feel.

Try layering plants in front of a window.

Hanging around

Generally, you can’t hammer nails or screw hooks into walls at rental properties, so you need to think outside the square when hanging wall art.

Removable adhesive strips were a good solution, but Ms Buckins said for something a bit different, try draping a beautiful piece of fabric over the rail of a clothes rack and set the rack against a wall. You could also hang plants or pendant lights from the rack.

Decorated racks could also be used as room dividers or placed next to a piece of furniture, such as a table, sofa or bed, for a creative effect.

Something different: a clothes rack with plants makes an attractive room divider.



Lush and leafy: indoor plants climb up a rack.


Group effort

Creating beautiful arrangements using decorator pieces and items of meaning was a wonderful way to introduce your personal style to a space, Ms Buckins said.

But she said not to be limited to just tabletops and shelves.

“Use your floor space as well. Lean large mirrors or prints against a wall and group them with a plant stand to bring in an organic element, as well as a floor lamp for some soft lighting,” she said.

“However, always ensure collages and groupings are asymmetric for balance and harmony. So, start off with your highest piece on the left-hand side and work your way down from there.”

Prints or framed artworks also looked good propped casually on sideboards or bedside tables.

Decorator items will add character.

Lean on me: pictures don’t need to be hung.

Propped against the wall, artworks can inject an air of casual elegance.


Artworks can also look good when placed on the floor.


Cosy effect

It was important to surround yourself with statement pieces, but Ms Buckins said it was equally important not to forget about maintaining the functionality of a space.

For areas where you entertained but also liked to kick back and watch TV, for example, she suggested having two smaller sofas that could accommodate gatherings with friends but could also be pushed together for cosy family movie nights.

“Go for pieces that add style and character where you can also add a personal touch,” she suggested.

Keep functionality front of mind when choosing your pieces.

More tips for renters

■ Invest in pieces with in-built storage, such as beds, sofas, tables and ottomans, where space is tight.

■ Hang tab curtains or fabric from removable adhesive hooks to hide unattractive blinds and match window dressings to your decor.

■ Add more lights. Floor lights and table lamps will brighten dark rooms and corners where natural light is scarce. Clamp lamps are great if you want to direct light for reading or highlight decorative features on shelving.

■ Group oversized baskets to store cushions and throws. Use at least two different sizes to create levels that add interest visually.

Source: Ikea

Opt for pieces with built-in storage, such as this bed.

Lighten up: lamps will brighten dark corners.

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