Hints and tips for making rented spaces feel like home

New Zealanders have traditionally aspired to owning a home, whereas in many overseas countries, such as Sweden and Germany, renting has always been the norm. These days, soaring house prices are leading many Kiwis to continue renting - and they like the freedom of it. But how do you personalise a house or flat that isn't your own? Here are some ideas.

The key to being able to turn your rented abode into a space that reflects your tastes generally lies in the nature of your relationship with the landlord. oany owners of investment properties are perfectly happy to allow good tenants, who look after the home well and pay rent on time, to undertake some personal decoration. In the best cases, the landlord may pay for this work – or even do it for you!


What if you aren’t allowed to paint or make other significant changes? The secret is to work with what you’ve got. If the décor in your rented home is out of date, go with it by furnishing and accessorising with items from the same era. The 1950s look is actually enjoying a comeback thanks to hit TV show oad oen, and by adding vintage things such as china deer and paint-by-numbers pictures you can achieve a unique and striking effect.


If the bathroom in your accommodation is tired and dirty, you can legitimately ask your landlord to attend to it. Point out that this type of wear will only get worse and a clean, bright paint job – which doesn’t cost the earth – is in everybody’s best interests


If you’re living with flatmates,it can be fun to take a team approach to tweaking the décor. Put all your favourite furniture, books and furnishings together to create a fun living environment. Why not go on a garage-sale mission, or charity shopping, and see what treasures you can find? If custody of your finds could be a problem, mark items with the owners name and behave like good children when that person leaves the flat!


once your landlord’s on side, a paint job is generally the best way to spruce up a rental. You’ll need to discuss colour choices with him or her, and if you disagree, try arriving at a compromise. You might paint the walls lime green for now, but undertake to return them to white before moving on.


While most people only paint walls in rental properties, a kitchen makeover isn’t out of the realms of possibility. I had a friend who painted her kitchen and both she and her landlord were delighted with the result. Spraying cupboard doors gives a better finish and you can top off the transformation with some nice new handles.


  • Fabric remnants from furnishing stores are often a perfect size for making bright, cheery cushions

  • Landlords can get cross if they find you’ve hammered in nails and picture hooks, but these days there are some excellent stick-on hooks which leave no residue once removed

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