Don’t let renting cramp your style

A sunny yellow feature wall and cheerful accessories cheer up a kitchen
A sunny yellow feature wall and cheerful accessories cheer up a kitchen
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Our homes should be a place where we can truly feel ourselves and show off our style and taste – but millions of us are living in someone else’s property, with all the limitations that imposes.

Tenants have to cope with decor choices that aren’t theirs and landlords’ rules on what they can and cannot do to rooms.

After living in 12 rented homes, Joanna Thornhill knows exactly what it’s like to ‘have a sinking heart as you look at wallpaper that doesn’t appeal and furniture that’s seen better days, and to be unable to make even basic cosmetic alterations’.

She has come to the rescue with her new book, Home For Now, which bursts with inspiring ideas, practical advice, projects and tips to transform rooms without breaking the bank.

‘Underwhelming or disheartening spaces can be transformed with a bit of creativity, imagination and a minimal outlay,’ says Joanna.

‘Small changes, easy DIY projects and a little reorganisation can make a space you’ll truly love that you’ll be proud to call home.’

Follow her suggestions for rescuing rented spaces, and you’ll find you don’t want your tenancy to end.

Wall wizardry 
Boring walls – especially in an unappealing shade – can really impact on the atmosphere of a home. ‘Don’t be daunted. With a little thinking outside the box, there’s no reason why patterned walls can’t be a part of any home, without breaking any of your tenancy rules,’ says Thornhill.

She suggests hiding hideous walls by cladding a large freestanding board in wooden planks, or simply use a trompe l’oeil woodprint wallpaper.

B&Q’s vinyl Wood Effect Wallpaper in Brown by Lutece, £14.98, looks like planks (diy.com).

If the walls are plain but boring and there’s a paper you love, try suspending one roll as a single drop by hanging it from a trouser or wire hanger secured with clothes pins or simply a couple of tacks at the top.

Stick ’em up
Pictures and photos instantly personalise a space but hanging these up can be a problem if the landlord will object to potential damage of walls.

‘Removable wall stickers, and increasingly, removable murals and even wallpapers have risen in popularity in recent years,’ says Thornhill.

Small cardboard gift boxes glued together create a display space. Line each box with colourful paper offcuts and attach to a wall with removable picture-hanging strips.

Removable wall stickers and murals are available from companies such as Stickers Wall.

Makeover Magic 
Small spaces mean storage is vital but as a tenant, spending thousands on fitted storage that you’d leave behind if you move is unlikely to be an option.

Thornhill suggests converting a redundant wardrobe into an armoire by adding shelves inside and, if the furniture is yours, paint it (if wooden, sand and prime first) in a striking shade to make it a feature.

Old, vintage suitcases make a great makeshift table; stack a few together for a coffee table.
Home For Now by Joanna Thornhill is published by CICO, priced £16.99.