• Katey Korzenietz

How to decorate & style your rented home

I thought I’d be topical and relate today’s post to my current living situation. What with an increasing proportion of us renting and not owning the space we live in, I thought I’d share with you my tips on how you can decorate your rented home on a budget whilst maintaining a harmonious relationship with your landlord.

We recently moved into a rented house, which we plan to live in until we find ‘the one’. Those of you who know me personally will probably laugh at the idea of me finding ‘the one’ as since getting together with my husband 10 years ago we have moved house as many times. Some may call it fickle but I call it practice. It has allowed me to experiment, make mistakes and play about with colours, patterns and styles. Not that I will ever commit to any particular design but I have learned many lessons that I hope ‘the one’ will benefit from. Sorry, I digress…

When moving into a new home you want to put your stamp on it, make it your own. Living in rented accommodation can feel limiting, you think all you can do is put your furniture in and get on with the look that already exists within the property. But no…. here are a few ideas for making someone else’s house your own home.

1. Decorate your walls

Some landlords are relaxed and will let you bang nails in walls to hang frames, mirrors and decorations as long as you make good at the end of your tenancy. Others however are not. If, like me, you are forever having crushes on new wallpapers then fear not, either take a decent size sample from your local stockist or buy a roll and insert it into picture frames. You could just have one or gather a collection of them. Then hang them with picture nails (if you are allowed) or prop them up against walls either on the floor or on sideboards and tables. You get the look without making it a permanent feature, plus you get to use them again. Another fab way to brighten up plain walls is to use removable decals.


I used these funky stickers in my last house – they didn’t cost much, were easy to put up and remove and add a fab splash of colour to a plain wall. I love the Olivia headboard by Mina Javid, which at £55 would be quirky way to add the look of a headboard to your rented bedroom.

Note: don’t whatever you do mount anything on the wall with selotape or blu-tack! It doesn’t matter what it says on the pack selotape always rips off paint and blu-tack leaves greasy marks. Try white or sticky tack that has been specifically designed to not stain walls.

2. Personalise existing furniture

Soft furnishings are the easiest way to make-over existing furniture if it isn’t to your liking. If you don’t want to spend much creating a new look then keep your eye open for bargains on the likes of Achica, Dalani and also eBay as well as in the sales. I was recently chuffed to bits when I found some gorgeous grey and white Bronte merino lambswool cushions and throws at less than half price at Achica. I am still waiting for the delivery but having coveted them for quite some time I know when I get them I will love them *smile*.

Have you moved into furnished accommodation that has been kitted out with IKEA furniture? If so, fear not because if any sofas or chairs look like they’ve had better days, then you can easily get a new custom designed replacement covers to suit your tastes from specialist cover maker Bemz. The company was set up by Lesley Pennington several years ago because she loved IKEA furniture but wanted to out her own creative stamp on it and now you can do the same. You select the item you want to buy a cover for, choose your fabric et voila, problem solved. Genius!

3. Hang your own curtains

As much as I love our new rented cottage and the way it has been simply decorated, I am not enamoured with the burnt orange and red trailing leaf patterned roman blinds in the kitchen and living room – not my cup of tea at all. So I’m going to replace them, why not. Window dressings are easy to replace and when you move out easy to re-hang what was there before (just make sure you store them well so they don’t get damaged or dirty). Scout about for ready made treatments at the likes of Dunelm Mill, Next or other high street retailers and online suppliers, use your own existing curtains and customise them to fit (try adding a width of co-ordinating fabric along the bottom or top to increase the drop or simply fold back and stitch to shorten them). I am going to have some new ones made…any excuse to have a play with a new fabric! I’ve chosen this Scion fabric and when we do find ‘the one’ I’ll get them adjusted to fit windows in the new place.

Becky, my super talented curtain making partner (www.inspiredcurtains.com) is also going to make up some co-ordinating cushions to add to the mix. Ok, so I will have to spend money getting the blinds and cushions made but I can take them with me when we move again. Some things are worth investing in!

4. Make it soft underfoot

Generally speaking flooring in rented properties has been chosen to be hardwearing and to disguise marks and as a result is neither luxurious nor your preferred choice. On the plus side the colour of it does tend to be neutral so get yourself some rugs and layer it up. Once you have your own furniture in place, position a large rug on the floor. It will add warmth, hide unsightly marks and can be taken with you when your tenancy ends. I recently used this gorgeous rug in a photo shoot, it was just so scrummy and sumptuous when walking on it barefoot, I had to share it with you, believe me toes seriously love being squidged about in it!

5. Put your stamp on it with decorative accessories & lighting

Styling your home with some gorgeous vases and objets adds an instant personal touch. No doubt you will already have plenty of pretty things, but if you are looking for inspiration check out the following;

I’ve just bought these, baubles aren’t just for Christmas! – I’ll post a photo of how I style them in my new home soon…

Lighting is an integral and important part of creating your right look within the home and something you can easily change in a rented house. Add light to dark corners with your own table lamps, replace any dingy old pendants with funky lampshades (supply Quincy Lampshades with some fabric you adore & Ruth will make you a bespoke lampshade – a great cost-effective way of getting the look you want) and fill the place with candles, oh I love candles, they add a touch of warmth, ambience and cosiness to the home even if it’s not your ‘forever home’.


Also, at the moment you can find great some fantastic bargains at the following websites thanks to the end of season sales;


  1. www.grahamandgreen.co.uk – for contemporary designer furniture & home accessories

  2. www.beauboutiqueinteriors.co.uk – for interior design led, boutique style furniture

  3. www.bemz.com/en-gb/outlet/ – for custom designed covers for IKEA sofas & chairs

  4. www.tch.net/sale.irc – The Contemporary Home for handpicked products for all styles of home

6. Freshen up with gorgeous scents & flowers

It’s often the simplest touch that makes the biggest difference. Just by infusing the house with fresh fragrances, especially invigorating citrusy smells you can easily wipe out any lingering smells made by previous tenants. True Grace candles and diffusers are just to die for, choose by season, collection or scent and prepare your senses to be overcome. Honestly, I haven’t even lit my Jasmine Tea bowl candle yet and the whole downstairs of my house smells heavenly! Of course, freshly cut stems as well as potted plants and flowers add colour and fragrance to a room so why not forgo your regular coffee for a few days and spend what you have saved on fresh flowers?



Finally, if you really want to make a big difference, it could be worth asking your landlord if you could redecorate the house / apartment. Sometimes landlords are simply too busy to to do it themselves so they may well appreciate you doing the job for them. Agree with them a colour scheme and discuss your plan with them. They may even pay for the paint. You never know, because if you don’t ask you won’t get! Once I have some ‘after’ photos of my new pad…we literally only got the last box through the front door last night…I’ll share them with you and your feedback and thoughts will be entirely welcome. For now, I need a rest and a cup of tea. There appears to be an open packet of choc chip cookies staring at me, I think they’re saying “eat me”… nom… www.homerestyler.co.uk


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Exeter, UK

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