Creating a reason to be in the space aside from the obvious is the key. Photo: iStock.
It’s understandable to think that if you’re renting an uninspiring beige box apartment or house that, in terms of style, your hands are tied.
While it’s true you need to leave your rental in the same state you found it, or get approval for any changes you make, you still can make your rental feel like it’s uniquely your own.
More often than not, dull and lifeless interiors are ones without purpose beyond the utility of the day-to-day.
Yep, a bedroom has a bed in it, a lounge room has a sofa plus the ubiquitous entertainment unit and TV. Dining areas, if you have one, need a table and chairs. However, if this is where you stop, you’re missing the opportunity to bring real meaning and life to a space by creating a secondary level of purpose.
A bedroom can be a retreat. A living room can be for reading, conversation or contemplation. Dining areas can be entertainment spaces. Creating that reason to be in the space aside from the obvious is the key. The way to do that is to make them more enticing for that purpose.
Windows and walls
The living space has the same opportunities for wallpaper and drapes and curtains. Photo: Stocksy
Drapery can give a lovely softness, practical protection from light and infringement of your privacy, and also provides a vertical line that makes your ceilings appear high. A block-out drape can be a great opportunity to add colour, pattern or texture to the layered bedroom look, while a sheer curtain gives a soft glamour that is always inviting in a bedroom.
Add to the standard bed-plus-two-bedsides set-up with some well thought-out bedside lamps and a beautifully made bed using colour, texture, pattern and scale and you can make yourself the perfect, sultry and inviting escape.
The living space has the same opportunities for wallpaper and drapes and curtains.
Art and large-scale mirrors can be a much-needed focal point in a living space but, remember, you need to ask permission from your landlord or property manager before you take to the walls with a drill. If your landlord won’t allow new holes to be made, either make the most of existing locations available to hang, or lean art or mirrors against the wall, or on a mantle.
On the floor
Rugs are OK over carpet if you choose for contrast and interest. Photo: Stocksy
Rugs are another opportunity for a focal point. They unify a room, demarcate a space and also add an acoustic buffer between your feet and your downstairs’ neighbour’s ceiling.
There are also options available at floor level for aesthetic improvements, such as laying new carpet over the old, though this can run the risk of damaging the existing flooring on installation or removal.
A safer and more predictable solution is placing large rugs over existing floors and, yes, rugs are OK over carpet if you choose for contrast and interest.
You can negotiate to lay a floating floor, from a vinyl plank, laminate or timber board, or peel back carpets to polish floors but, beware, it is extremely easy for one noise complaint to force you to have to reinstate floor coverings immediately and at your own expense.
Fittings and furniture
You can always create levels of height and light intensity through the introduction of floor and table lamps. Photo: iStock
Furniture and decor play a huge role in creating meaningful, purposeful and interesting interiors. Modular furniture allows for flexibility in size or orientation and you can always take them with you to your next home.
Think about the inclusion of mid-height to tall, free-standing shelving units as opportunities to layer in plants, books and decor and cover large expanses of blank and boring walls without having to beg for permission.
Updating door handles and cabinet knobs are a quick switch that can elevate a kitchen, bathroom or door, just like the right earrings can add glamour to a little black dress.
You can always create levels of height and light intensity through the introduction of floor and table lamps.
Light shades at the very least, or new light fittings at best, can also really brighten up a room when they take the place of dull and tired ones, but hang onto the old fittings or shades.
Darren Palmer is a judge on Channel Nine’s The Block, Sundays at 7pm.