Achieving a homely feel when you're renting!

We were contacted by our client, asking for help with her open plan lounge space. She was keen for it to feel more welcoming and homely, however as she was renting nothing could be "too permanent". The key deliverable was for the house to feel more like their own, with a bit of personality and a homely feel. The house itself is built in a weatherboard style, very similar to that of many properties in the US and Australia.

This is the finished room. We're pretty pleased with it, what do you think?

We thought we'd run through the project and how we made some of the decisions we did, which hopefully will help you when making decisions on your own home design and decor.

As this is a rental property we were keen to design everything so that it could be removed with minimal fuss and with as little disruption to the property as possible, whilst still providing our client with the homely feel they were keen to achieve. Just because you are renting does not mean that you have to compromise on how your home feels, you just need to be clever about how you achieve it.

Here are our initial moodboards and concept stage 3D visuals.

Let's start with the media wall and fireplace feature. The room desperately needed a focal point, without one it just felt lost. We set about designing something that could be easily installed and removed, and that wouldn't disrupt the existing structure, so we were careful not to damage the existing skirting board, flooring or ceiling. The fireplace was all designed in one movable piece. There are access panels behind the TV and around the inset fire, so that if required any maintenance or repairs can be done without damaging the structure. In designing the feature like this our client can also remove it and take it to their next house should they wish.

Then onto the bespoke designed and made sofa. This was very important to our client - she had seen a sofa that she loved by an American designer and struggled to find anyone locally that could make it for her. She asked us if we might be able to create something similar and of course, we can. Being able to design and create bespoke pieces of furniture and upholstery is one of our favourite parts to the job; we can create something truly unique and bespoke, ensuring that it meets the needs of our client and their family.

As this was an open plan living space we designed the space to incorporate as much seating as possible. The seating needed to do a number of things; accommodate up to 6 people (the sofa is 2.6m wide!), be comfy for movie watching, good for sitting and chatting with friends whilst perhaps preparing a meal in the kitchen and most importantly not close the room down. Designing the sofa to be one solid piece and not modular means a more seamless finish and its more structurally sound. The ottoman was designed to be multifunctional; a storage space, coffee table, additional seating and footrest.

Working in an open plan space, we wanted to ensure we delineated it from the kitchen and dining areas, but not alienate it or make it feel closed off. Rugs worked perfectly for this. We added some texture and grounding with the sisal area rug and then placed the damask rug on top for added interest, pattern and a softer feeling underfoot.

This is a wonderful way to make the house feel homely and lived in, without doing anything permanent to the property. As a renter that is generally the struggle, how to make a rented house feel like a home without investing time and money into someone else's property.

I have to say, as someone that has rented myself, its hard to envisage ways to put your own stamp on a house without doing things that may upset your landlord or cost you money you won't see again. So, here are a few ideas if you are stuck for what to do;

  • Hang artwork or pictures that mean something to you, providing your landlord is happy for you to do so. Most are, they might just have make-good clauses on vacation of the property

  • Add rugs, they totally transform a space and there are some really cost effective options available. Check out our blog post all about how to choose the right rug for your space.

  • Plants! Who doesn't love a bit of greenery, it's not only good for you to have plants in your home but it makes such a difference to the way a home feels, trust me they are a designers best friend!

  • Cushions and throws will add much needed texture and depth to your lounge space and again there all kinds of price points for these items. They help to dress your sofa/chair, make a room feel welcoming and add that all important personal touch of you.

  • Why not invest in a well designed and well made piece of bespoke cabinetry that is removable and can be taken to your next house with you - such as the feature fireplace and media wall we designed and installed in this project.

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