How To Make A Rented House A Home

Putting your own stamp on someone else’s house is always tricky, as you’re stuck between not wanting to spend money on something that isn’t yours and wanting a nice place to live.

Since I was 21 I’ve always rented (except for a year when I owned down south). The first place I had was a house share, so I couldn’t really do much there. The second flat I lived in was a new build and we weren’t allowed to decorate or even hang pictures up. The third place was recently redecorated and I knew the owners so didn’t want to annoy them by re painting it all!

After owning my own flat, and having the freedom to do what I wanted to it, I had moved into a basement flat in a Southsea as a pit stop between selling and buying another. It was only meant to be very temporary but I ended up staying there longer than planned as the house I was hoping to buy fell through. I didn’t do too much to this place except remove some old mermaid decals in the bathroom and paint over some floral wallpaper, but this was probably the first time I’d lived by myself and been happy with the decor. I really miss that flat, it was such a great location.

When I moved up to Scotland I rented as wasn’t sure how permenant the move would be. Little did I know I would be getting married and having a baby up here!

Our house now was in an awful state when we moved in. Everything had previously been painted pink and then redecorated leaving pink bits of woodwork all over the place! I’ll pop some before and after pictures below each room.

(n.b every time I say ‘we’ below, it was 80% Phil. As much as I love decorating I was pregnant and lazy)

The first thing we did was the front room. It was actually probably the best condition out of all the rooms, we just pollyfilled some cracks and chips in the plaster then glossed and painted the walls. I am a HUGE fan of dark walls, so we chose a dark grey for three walls and a navy blue for the other. We teamed this with grey curtains and lots of plants! I had bought the sofa to fit in the house I didn’t buy, just from a cheap sofa shop as I loved the style of it. The TV unit was an upright storage cube I turned on its side and put hairpin legs on. I also got a rustic sideboard with hairpin legs from ebay. The majority of the accessories and prints are things I’ve collected over the years, plus phils skateboards, which don’t really go but we both love. This room probably cost us about £30 to transform.

We have since got another corner sofa as we needed more seating. The chair has gone in the spare room and we have put the coffee table away for now. We also bought a table and bench set from argos so we can all sit together at dinner, and we have Brodie’s first art work on the walls here. We got some shelves too for the wee alcove so we could use it to display some other things we had, and this has really balanced that whole wall up.

The second room we did was the kitchen as it was horrible. The walls in this house are in really bad condition under the wallpaper so it still doesn’t look great, but stripping the horrible checks off the wall was great! I really wanted a light pink kitchen, and finally managed to talk Phil round, but actually the walls in there are far too pink and I want to redo them now! We didn’t really do much more to the kitchen bar paint it and dress it as it gets pricey when you start looking at covering cupboards. If we decide to stay here for a few more years then it might be something we look at.

The bathroom was terrible when we viewed this place. The toilet seat was cracked and there wasn’t even a plug for the sink! We got these replaced before we moved in, as although inexpensive how can you rent somewhere in that state? First thing I did was chip off the ‘soak’ sticker, which proved such hard work as it was obviously super old and had gone brittle. We then stripped this beautiful peach tile effect wallpaper off and painted everything white. We got some tile paint in b&m I think, and although if you look close there’s a few drip marks it completely transforms the room, and it was really cheap to do. We painted the dado rail and the little storage unit with the leftover grey from the front room and dressed it with new accessories. The table is something I already had and the towels, shower curtain and floor mat is just primark.

We have since put in new vinyl as although a bit pricier than we wanted the old one was so minging. We’ve also got a new curtain and floor mat as I fell in love with them. Oops!

Brodie’s room was also a really important room to get done. Baring in mind I was 6 months pregnant when we moved in here. We glossed the skirtings then chose a grey paint that matched one of the spots on his wallpaper. Putting this paper up was the first time Phil had wallpapered as a grown up, and he did the best job! All the furniture in this room is stuff we had already, apart from the bookshelves which are IKEA picture ledges. I changed the handles on the chest of drawers to woodland animal knobs from Etsy, and we got prints from Tinypix. Our cot was a present from my parents. It’s from mamas and papas, as is the lampshade and cot mobile.

Brodie got a ball pit from his Great Nanny for Christmas so that’s in there too now.

Our bedroom had horrendous floral wallpaper to start with, which we stripped down almost immediately and lived with just the backing paper on the walls for ages! We wanted a grey and white striped paper on the bed wall, and it took a while to find one that wasnt extortionate. I’m still not convinced I like this but it’s up now so nevermind! The rest of the room we painted white, and furnished with things we had already.

In our room we have a little “dressing room” which is basically just a big cupboard with a window! We took the door off it and put it on the bathroom as the door for there had a corner cut out of it (why???). We gave it a lick of paint and I put some of the pictures I wasn’t allowed in the rest of the house up. I really want to redo this room and have BIG plans for it.

The hallway my mum and I (mainly my mum) when I was waiting to go into labour, it’s Gotham grey from b&q. We have accessoried it with gold framed prints, a gold mirror and some picture ledges from IKEA. There is also a macrame hanging from matalan.

We still have the whole house bar Brodie’s room and the front room to gloss, and the spare room hasn’t been touched yet. Apparently it’s hard to get anything done when you have a baby!!

We’ve probably spend a few hundred pounds decorating this house, which I personally think is worth it for it to feel like a home for us and for Brodie. The key is to accessorise in my opinion. Good quality furniture, pictures/prints, nick naks and plants help to personalise your space massively, it also means you can take them if / when you move. Always check with your letting agent before decorating, as dark walls are a bitch to paint over, trust me!


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