Home decor in a rental home

7:30 AM

Rental properties come with their own sets of challenges, especially when it comes down to home decor. In India, people usually don't stay more than a couple of years in a rented house or flat before moving to the next one. Landlord whims and job demands oblige. The most desirable arrangement being of course able to afford AND live in your very own property, which in this time and age is getting increasingly more difficult.

a DIY painted jar makes for perfect home decor in a rental.

Because of this rental constraint, people are usually wary of spending too much on home decor, and with reason. What is the point of spending a fortune on wall treatment and custom furnitures when you know you are going to have to leave the place in just a few years? Then, there is the landlord issue, most aren't too crazy about their tenants carrying on big home improvement plans in their home.

Living in a rental pretty much means that you are going to be stuck with the walls and flooring that came with it when you signed the lease. That, however, does not mean you need to live in blah, bland and dull quarters. There are plenty of ways to instil character into your home on a budget. None involve painting the walls, and all can be packed and moved to your next home without problems.

The problem, is that when people of home decorating, they usually visualise expensive custom made furnitures, lavish wall treatments and customised lighting solution. All of it are possible (though seriously not even necessary) in a home that you own. Home decorating is thankfully not limited to this, and it is possible to have a really nice looking home without spending a fortune in the decorating department.

invest in quality wooden furnitures that will last for years

Here are a few cheap home decorating ideas you can easily implement in your home, rental, or not:

- First, invest in basic but quality furnitures. I know, that one might not really appear to be "cheap". But, believe me, it is in the long run. When you relocate often, cheap laminates and plastic furniture then to break more easily in transit than solid wood ones. Heck even without relocating, crappy laminate will barely last you a year or two without starting to fall apart. I speak from experience, trust me.
Pick quality over quantity, and keep them simple. Your furniture should be versatile to adapt to your switching homes often. I myself recommend to pick all of them in one range of colour, so that when the chest of drawer no longer fits in the bedroom, it can still look great in your living room matching the dinning table.

- The best way to give a personal touch to any space is by using soft furnishing. Think curtains, rugs, throws and pillows. You are guaranteed to find something fitting your budget and it can be taken down when you move or even get bored of it. If you keep a few sets of cushion covers and curtains around you can switch them regularly and alter your home decor at will. And it will not even take you more than a few minutes to give a room an instant makeover.

cover your plain old walls with colourful art and pictures to give them character

- Lend character to your boring off white walls by hanging pictures. The big problem in rental homes is that you are usually stuck with white or off white walls (and trust me it is better than the salmon pink I got once). The beauty if this neutral wall treatment is that no matter what you hang on these wall, it will pop and look good. So, take advantage of it and have your favourite pictures professionally printed and framed.
Don't limit yourself to pictures though. Have you accumulated a few cute postcards and greeting cards over the years? Turn them into wall art. Have an artistic bone in your body? Grab a canvas and paint. Found a few cute carvings, plates or flat baskets in a bazaar or on a holiday? Pin them to your walls...
The possibilities are endless and it can be neatly packed when you move out and on to the next home.

- One of the biggest problem in rental properties is storage. I've lived in rental all my life. In India, you are often stuck with whatever wardrobes and cabinets the flat or house came with. This means that you will have to get creative to get all your belongings to fit in whatever storage options. Sometimes, it even has to be left in plain sight (or almost). Fortunately, the market is inundated with storage options : bins, boxes an canisters come in all shapes, colours and sizes, and pretty much at any prices to fit any budget. Pick some that go with your decor and store all that clutter away in your shelves and cabinets and you are good to go, from home to home.

- Last but certainly not least, unleash your DIY potential. Repurpose and paint old jars and boxes. Turn old clothes into cushions and throws. Make wall art out of paper, card or magazine clippings. Internet is full of inspiration, go nut!

All in all, giving personality to a space is neither requires a lot of money, nor a owned and paid dream house (or apartment). With the prices of real estate going higher every year in India, and the fact people move around a lot more and much longer for their career, it is likely one will spend more time in a rental property than in their own home. That doesn't mean you have to put home decor on hold and live a life of generic blandness and boringness.

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  1. "First, invest in basic but quality furnitures."
    I would only add to that to buy your upholstered goods (sofas, chairs, ottomans etc.) in neutral tones, & solid colors.
    For instance, if you like warm colors choose a solid brown, or if you prefer cool colors choose charcoal. Express your color scheme with throw pillows, coordinating drapes, a carpet, a throw, or even a blanket in whatever accent colors you choose. That way if you ever decide to change your color scheme all you have to do is buy some relatively inexpensive new pillows, drapes, carpet, or throw rather than buying new & expensive upholstered goods.
    I've suffered for the last 10 yrs in our rented home with salmon pink (more like vomit pink) & pastel mint walls. (Not to mention the tomato red carpet with white daisies that clashes with everything). Dear husband does not want to invest in new paint or carpets as we are 'just renting'. I say after 10 yrs this place needs new paint just to be fit for human habitation. Sigh.....

    1. Good point about the upholstery. I just put it in the same category as getting all your furnitures in similar shades without thinking further.

      I know the kind of salmon pink you are talking about. The flat we stayed in for 6 in Bangalore after coming back from Navi Mumbai was painted entirely in this shade. We chose to overlook the paint job because everything else including the location was awesome, but yeah I think if we stayed longer in there I could have seen myself begging the landlord to paint it white. This forging salmon pink was EVERYWHERE and it didn't even go with the old school mismatched grey marble tiles at all. It made the whole flat look much darker than it probably was, and the only time this ugly paint job looked decent was in the evening with dimmed lights all around, any bright lights and it looked butt ugly. I was just plain old grateful that at least they didn't decide to paint the ceiling in that horrid shade.

    2. Bibi are you and your family safe? Been thinking about you.


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