10 tricks to turn your rental into a home
Magnolia-painted walls, faux leather sofas, 1970s kitchen units, sticky carpets — most rental accommodation comes with interiors that require wraparound sunglasses 24/7 and restrictions on what you can do to express your inner Kevin McCloud.
Interiors stylist and blogger Kim Gray — who arrived in Ireland recently from South Africa with her husband and young son Harry — has polished up many an interior for glossy magazines such as Oprah Winfrey’s O and Marie Claire, has her own range of carpets and rugs (airloom.co.za), and most recently has teamed up with Nordic Makers, the cool Scandi design store in Dun Laoghaire, to offer her expertise on design projects. A renter herself, how does she advise transforming a rental property into somewhere more like home? She lets Fran Power in on her top 10 rental secrets.
1 Use rugs to add colour, warmth and softness, particularly if your space has wooden or tiled floors. In open-plan rooms, rugs can also zone a room, defining eating or sitting areas. Kim isn’t a big fan of carpeted rooms and so layers her rugs to break up a space and bring in colour or style.
2 If your rental agreement doesn’t allow you to hang pictures on the walls, layering them on sideboards or even along the floor makes a striking statement. For maximum impact, frame everything in the same colour. They instantly turn a place into a home.
3 Rentals don’t always have good storage spaces. Kim collects beautiful baskets that can fit under units, beds, chairs, etc, to store toys, blankets, toiletries or any eye-sores like cables and TV remotes. Find similar at thebasketroom.com
4 Maximise your storage space by either buying beds that come with storage underneath or make your own by cannibalising old charity shop chest-of-drawers and placing them under the bed — measure the depth of the drawers before you buy to be sure they fit.
5 Re-upholster old chairs to give them new life — check out skips, local auction rooms or charity shops such as Oxfam Home and add attitude with inspirational fabrics from expert Abigail Borg (abigailborg.com), award-winning illustrator and designer, or buy readymade at florrieandbill.com.
6 If you can, opt for an unfurnished place, then beg, borrow or steal furniture to fill it. If space is tight, choose a circular table — such as Docksta from ikea.ie – it gives you more options.
7 Dress your windows — swap heavy, dark or ornate curtains for lighter linen curtains — you can pick up good quality ones from Ikea or Curtain Traders (curtaintraders.ie) who sell new and secondhand to suit most budgets. Neutral shades will create a blank canvas to decorate against and let more light in.
8 Introduce some greenery — especially good if you don’t have access to a garden. Pot up and place in pretty baskets or pots.
9 Use butchers’ hooks to hang bags, jewellery and scarves off wardrobes or doors — so you don’t have to hammer them into the wall. If space is at a premium, hang from the ceiling or walls.
10 If space is tight and you like to entertain, invest in stackable chairs or pouffes, the more eclectic your collection, the better. Try simple stackable Hester chairs, €112; habitat.com.