Rental homes tend to be a blank canvas. Landlords like painting them plain white, magnolia or light grey since these appeal to most people and also make the space feel bigger and brighter. And if we’re completely honest, they look boring. A lot of landlords will be opposed to you hanging wallpaper or repainting, and finding alternatives can feel like such a task. As someone who’s rented for quite awhile I know how taxing it can be! That’s why I’ve come up with a list of ways to your own personal style to your apartment rental.
1. Choose an Accent Color (or two).
Your first step would be to choose the colors you want in your home. If your walls are painted light grey for example, dark grey and blush pink would be beautiful accent colors. If your walls are painted cream, an accent color like lilac, duck egg blue, khaki green or navy would work well. If your walls are white you could go with just about any shade, or keep it monochrome and go with plain black. I’m a huge fan of the monochrome aesthetic! If you are too then this book is for you!
2. Pile on Soft Furnishings.
It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Nordic design. One thing that always sticks out to me is their use of furs and textured blankets to add a bit life to their homes. Once you know the accent colors you’re going to be using, you can start buying items for the rooms. Rugs, curtains, cushions and throws all add a cosiness to beds, chairs and sofas while bringing in color and pattern. These are practical as they make your sitting and sleeping areas more comfortable, but also help to bring in color and texture to an otherwise plain room. In the bathroom, soft furnishings are things like bath mats and towels, not only will you be extra comfy when you step out of the bath but it’s an easy way to bring in color to an otherwise difficult room to accessorize.
3. Accessorize Your Walls.
You might not be able to change the color of the walls, but you can hang things on them to add style and personality. Perhaps you’re looking to purchase Andy Warhol Marilyn Monroe art or something equally bold and fun, or maybe you want to go with a gallery wall and hang a number of different prints up to create a statement on the wall. You could go to an art gallery and buy a painted canvas from an artist, or check out the shops and see what’s available. A large mirror and a clock also add interest to the walls, plus if you hang the mirror opposite a window it will reflect more light and make the room look bigger and brighter too. Choose something with a frame that suits the rest of your decor and reflects your style. It could be wood, carved ornate, industrial looking metal or whatever else catches your eye.
4. Go With Unusual Lighting.
When the rest of your room is fairly neutral, you can have fun with things like fixtures and fittings and go a little bolder. You could choose a statement light, whether it’s a rustic looking piece with exposed bulbs and tons of metal, or a glamorous chandelier, it will tie your theme together and add style and personality without having to pick up a paintbrush. There are lots of cool lamps, sconces and other light sources too- choose something that works for your space and reflects your personal tastes and style.
5. Upcycle Some Furniture.
Again when the rest of your room is plainer, you can go a little more unique with furniture without it looking over the top. That’s not to say that every piece should stand out, but that you should have one or two stand out items that steal the show. For example, a plain black or brown leather sofa could be paired up with a bright or colorful statement chair. Put cushions or throws on the sofa in the same color or design as the chair to tie them both together. I’m a huge fan of thrift shops and antique stores for rare pieces. Check Craigslist to see if anyone is getting rid of old wooden furniture. Using sandpaper, paint and new handles, upcycle it to give it a new lease of life for a truly one-off piece of furniture for your home. Creating something yourself like this makes it extra special, and really brings a personal element into your room. It could be a coffee table, tv stand, sideboard, drawers- anything your heart desires.
6. Think About Scents.
When you’re putting together your room, it’s easy to focus on the things you can see. But actually the scent and fragrance creates ambiance and a sense of cozy, homeliness and is a great way to put your stamp on the place without redecorating. I’m a huge fan of candles that smell incredible (here’s looking at you Voluspa). Not only will these double up as decorative items, but they will also make your home smell wonderful. . Choose scents that you love, and ones that are seasonally scented are the absolute best. For example, in the winter warming spices like cinnamon and vanilla work well. In spring and summer light fruit and floral home scents are particularly pleasant, or something like clean cotton/ linen will work all throughout the year and give your home the smell of fresh laundry.
7. Add Plants and Flowers.
Finally, plants and flowers are a great way to bring color and texture into any room. They could be faux or real (I prefer the real ones), but they provide gorgeous vibrancy and you could switch them up for the season. Supermarkets sell bunches relatively cheaply so you could treat yourself to a bunch every few weeks. Potted plants from cacti to spider plants to larger varieties like Bird of Paradise will all look great in any room- according to psychologists looking at plants and flowers will make you happier too. Another reason to invest in some! Terrified of getting plants for fear of killing them? Read my list of the houseplants that are the easiest to take care of.
How have you gone about decorating your neutral, rented home so that it reflects you?