5 Failsafe Styling Tips From A Serial Renter
Styling a home as a renter in Australia is generally restrictive, but with a creative and inventive approach, it is possible to create a truly personalised space.
To find out how, we turned to the master — aka Monde furniture designer and Homebody stylist Tilly Barber, whose rental properties always reflect her timeless and modernist-inspired style (see here, and here and here!)
Today, Tilly reveals the tips and tricks behind her seemingly effortless home transformations to inspire your next rental makeover!
1. Choose modular furniture
It’s hard to commit to large furniture items in a rental property when you don’t know how long exactly you’ll be staying.
The solution — invest in modular and extendable pieces, capable of adapting to your current and future needs, whatever they may be.
A versatile modular sofa, for example, allows a variety of configurations, ensuring flexibility in the future.
An extendable dining table is also a great solution for small rental properties, where only occasional entertaining takes place.
‘I recommend seeking out things you can utilise for as many rooms or uses as possible,’ says Tilly.
2. Be brave with paint
Before you say anything — yes it is possible to paint a rental property! In Tilly’s experience, many landlords are open to tenants making property changes likely to increase the value of the home.
Always ask permission, and if you’re extra lucky, you might find the landlord is even willing to split the cost, as was the case with this Melbourne renter when making modifications.
A fresh coat of paint over a dated feature wall or damaged surface is usually Tilly’s first port of call when taking over a lease.
3. Get creative with DIY
Some rental makeovers require some more creative and innovative thinking. In Tilly’s current home, for example, she installed sisal ‘carpet tiles’ over her home’s existing faux terracotta floors, to temporarily soften and warm up the space. (See image above right – they really do look amazing!)
‘When laying the carpet tiles we opted to not use adhesives, so they don’t pose any harm to the existing flooring and they can easily come up, so I can take them with me to my next home or sell them at the end of my tenancy,’ she says.
Curtains are another existing property feature that can often be removed / replace, then reinstalled if necessary, upon vacating.
Tilly chose to replace her home’s existing curtain rods with Tasmanian oak dowel, layered with washable Japanese-style noren curtains. ‘They’re very easy to sew yourself or have custom made to fit your windows,’ she says.
Curtains can also be used to divide large spaces into smaller, more usable, rooms.
4. Invest in statement pieces
A rental property starts to feel like a home when it reflects the personality of the tenants. So it’s important to style your home with special pieces that reflect your tastes, as these are the elements that will really make your home feel uniquely ‘you’.
Art, cushions, bedding, loose furniture, and pot plants are the sort of statement pieces that can really impact the feel of a space. If you invest in them wisely, these pieces will stay with you for many years, and easily re-assemble in any spaces you inhabit in the future.
‘Be inspired as well as open minded to unique pieces that ‘speak to you’ or have a timeless quality, instead of pieces that are a momentary trend’ Tilly says. ‘If you have the means, consider making things yourself or commissioning makers whose work you admire.’
Don’t be tempted to fill a space quickly, and prioritise quality over quantity.
Tilly says, ‘When buying, consider if you really need it, then ask yourself, is it useful, will it last, and does it make you happy?’ My rule with styling, and with many things in life, is ‘if it’s not 100% “yes” it’s a “no!”
5. Light up your life
Attractive, warm lighting will instantly improve the look and feel of your rental property.
If your home has dated pendants that can easily be removed, switch these out in favour of paper shades that cast a warm glow.
‘Besides being simple and timeless, paper pendants are quite sculptural and emit a really beautiful soft light, creating a nice, calm atmosphere,’ says Tilly. ‘Even from the outside looking in, they can look quite captivating.’
Various lamps in every room are a must for setting the mood, and if you’re feeling more adventurous, try your hand at hanging a new lamp from the ceiling. ‘I am not afraid to fashion a ceiling light from a tactfully placed extension lead!’ says Tilly.
Always seek permission before making any permanent modifications to a rental property and consult your relevant state body for rules.
Tilly puts her impressive rental portfolio down to the positive relationships she’s developed with agents and landlords.
‘These two things are what will leverage a rental application and may land at the top of the pile for the house of your dreams,’ she says.
‘So maintain good communication with your agent and tread lightly. Take good care of your rental for the duration of your tenancy, leaving it in the same if not better shape than when you first arrived!’