A bland rented property has been transformed into a cool, eclectic home, bursting with lush green touches
When the owners moved into this rented two-bedroom flat in Leicester, the rooms were really dull and uninspiring ‘I wanted the space to feel like a home, but we were restricted in what we could to do the property. The last tenants had painted the walls dark purple and our landlord had to paint the walls cream. After that experience, he wasn’t keen to let us decorate the space,’ explains the owner. ‘Unable to use paint, I was stuck on how to make our new home feel like ‘us’.
The owner found a clever solution that has given her home plenty of life. ‘When picking up the weekly supermarket shop, I saw a small tropical plant for £2.50 and on the spur of the moment, I bought it. I’d never had an interest in plants before but I liked the way they added personality to a corner of my home. Each week, I started to buy a different plant and soon I had a growing collection. Our flat has large windows that let in lots of natural light, and every plant seemed to thrive in here.
‘As I filled my home with plants, my new love of leafy greens started to influence my taste too. I noticed I was more attracted to earthy tones and palm prints. I loved the tribal, bohemian, arty look. I started to follow lots of people on Pinterest and Instagram who had a similar interior style, and I took inspiration from what they had done in their spaces.’
The owners used lush tropical style houseplants combined with dark wooden furniture to add colour, texture and interest against plain magnolia walls and generic wood flooring. The mix of large plants and grouped varieties of smaller plants in mismatched pots forms a bohemian, random look that works.
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The owner wanted to introduce earthy tones through her home so that the whole flat had a similar look throughout. ‘Slowly, our home started to gain its own personality, filled with prints and patterns. The long black curtains came from Ikea, and I altered them to fit the window drop. They were the cheapest option by far.’
Black frames arranged together are eye-catching against he neutral walls and pick out the dark curtains.
During her maternity leave, the owner started to make things for her home. ‘I watched lots of YouTube videos on how to make macrame hangings. I started with a small one in my living room, then, when I realised how easy they were to make, I made one for my bedroom, too. I’ve also made pompom baskets, lampshades and upcycled furniture all from watching video tutorials online. I’d always loved interior design but I thought living in a rented property would make it impossible to get the look I wanted.
‘I’ve had to be inventive with how I decorate. I started to put my home on Instagram, posting up pictures of hangings and my cushions. I was so surprised by all the great feedback I got back from across the globe, especially about my plants!’
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The bohemian style is continued in the kitchen with a large black and white chevron rug and more accessory plants, displayed in decorative brown paper bags.
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The big change in the owners home design happened when she won a bedroom rug in a competition. ‘I’d been lusting after an ethnic-style kilim rug for months but couldn’t afford the £400 price tag. It took pride of place in my bedroom. I seemed to come into a lucky streak, and over the next three months, I won over £4,000 worth of things, including rugs, bedroom furniture, a throw, art, a stool and hangings. These prizes were the only way I could decorate my home on my tight budget – that, and looking in charity shops, where I started to find furniture and accessories in the warm colours I liked.’
The owner’s son’s room is the only space that is a little different to the rest of the home. ‘Our landlord let us paint the wall grey and I put up a large wall sticker up. As this his first bedroom, I wanted him to feel that it was special for him. I spent most of our decorating budget on things for his room like his cot and the wardrobe. There wasn’t much left for the rest of our home so I had to be inventive with my ideas.’
The owners have also managed to make their mark on the beige generic bathroom typical in rental homes. ‘We inherited this cream suite. I added mulberry accessories from H&M. If you’re stuck with a particular
scheme, have a regular change-up of your accessories, to vary the look’.
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‘I think I have a bit of an addiction to plants. I have more than 40 now, and I often get people asking for advice on looking after them, even though I’m still learning myself. I love the pops of green they add. I have one on every surface, and I still like to pick up news ones each week.’
Image credits: Simon Whitmore