Easy up-cycling and landlord-friendly hacks gives this rental a stylish new look

This style savvy home-maker makes this rental property feel like home!
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  • The minute this house-hunter stepped through the door of her new rental property, it was love at first sight. The numerous period features really appealed; the wooden floors, the hallway tiles, the big bathroom with roll top bath and the chrome fireplace, and though the kitchen was small, the rest of the house was spacious rooms so it was a real find.

    ‘In general I don’t think it’s so easy to find a rental property of this quality. You normally have to be willing to compromise,’ she says, ‘So I was fortunate, as these houses usually come up to buy rather than rent.’

    This dream rental home offers a neutral look for timeless appeal.

    Living Room

    Rental house with original features, arched mirror, inset shelves

    Photography: Katie Jane Watson/Future PLC

    The landlord got the carpets cleaned in advance, and although the decor was in fairly good condition, the walls needed a spruce up, and he agreed that our renter could decorate straight away – leading to the grey living room idea.

    ‘I started with the living room and decided to paint the walls grey, though this shade is slightly cooler that I expected, but I couldn’t go and look at any colours as the shops were closed, so I just had to look online and hope for the best.’

    The white paintwork had turned a yellowy colour and was chipped, but she had some leftover masonry paint from works outside, which she used in the living room to refresh the woodwork. ‘I thought, if it’s good enough for outside it must be hard wearing enough for indoors, and I like the modern look of the matt finish.’


    Rental house with small white painted kitchen

    Photography Katie Jane Watson/Future PLC

    One of the non-negotiables when looking for her rental was that the kitchen and bathroom were a blank canvas. So no green baths or brightly coloured mosaic tiles, as wall colours can be changed but kitchen cabinets or fixed furniture can’t be.

    Luckily the kitchen was a simple, all-white design, which could be simply refreshed with a fresh coat of paint. ‘I stuck white self-adhesive vinyl on the inside glass of the wall cabinets to make them look a bit tidier.’

    ‘There’s loads of hidden kitchen storage for my pots and pans behind this roll top door. Changing the handles, which came from Amazon, from stainless steel to gold has added a touch of luxury.’


    Photography Katie Jane Watson/Future PLC

    Over the summer the dining room was tackled. First the black and coffee coloured walls were painted white and the fireplace was white-washed. ‘It had been a bright red brick colour which I wanted to tone down and make more rustic looking.’

    Rental house with built-in seating, wooden dining table, wooden high shelf

    Photography Katie Jane Watson/Future PLC

    Even with the sofa against the wall, the space looked quite bare so a DIY wall panelling idea was added. ‘To be honest I winged it; we were at B&Q and I asked them to cut some MDF for me.’

    ‘I hadn’t measured it for size so when we got it home it was too long. We re-cut it and simply used gorilla glue and a nails to fix it to the wall.’


    Rental house with traditional style kitchen dresser and wooden kitchen table

    Photography Katie Jane Watson/Future PLC

    A traditional painted dresser in the dining area make for great hidden storage as well as for display items.

    Our renter recommend keeping your eye on local selling sites, especially if want a particular piece of furniture, as that’s often where you’ll often find good deals. ‘I picked up the table for £20, and then complimented it with Tolix-style chairs for only £25 each from ebay.’


    Rental house with neutral bedroom and wreath decoration

    Photography Katie Jane Watson/Future PLC

    Our renter loves to mix beige and greys with lots of texture as it makes a neutral bedroom colour scheme more interesting. These tables were a Facebook market place bargain; £20 for both. The wall decoration is simply pampas grass glued to a plastic hoop.

    Rental house, bedroom with panelled wardrobes

    Photography Katie Jane Watson/Future PLC

    The wardrobe panels were originally green glass, so they were painted using a primer first and then a white eggshell finish was painted on top. The Bentwood chair, found in a charity shop was sanded and waxed.


    Rental house, bathroom with roll top bath and small wooden shelf

    Photography Katie Jane Watson/Future PLC

    The only thing the bathroom required was to paint the floor, which needs doing regularly to keep it looking clean and fresh. ‘It’s such a treat having a roll-top bath and it’s an unusual but luxurious feature to have in a rental. The grey rug is from H&M and works perfectly as a bathmat.

    Guest Bedroom

    Rental house, small bedroom with colour blocked walls and wooden bed

    Photography Katie Jane Watson/Future PLC

    For the guest bedroom a colour blocking bedroom paint idea was used. ‘People make it look really easy but I just couldn’t get the lines straight. I put the tape on and used a spirit level but then realised the walls weren’t straight, so eventually I did it by eye.

    Being in one place for seven years is a long time for renting, and people ask me why I spend money decorating someone else’s house, but it’s a source of pride for me as well as a hobby, and it’s important to make where I live feel like my home. In truth, other than paint, I try not to spend a lot of money on things I can’t take with me when I leave!’

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