Sunday, 27 September 2020

20 Ways to Personalise a Rental Home

When my daughter was small, I lived in private rental properties for six years. During that time, three landlords wanted to change the use of the property, so I had to move, which threw up a couple of problems. When you rent privately in the UK, you quickly learn that everything you buy has to be removable, as you could have to leave with a couple of months notice. You also find out that it takes a lot of imagination to make your house a home, as landlords don't like you drilling holes or messing with the decor. Here are 20 ways to personalise your rental space, without spending a fortune or annoying the property owner when it comes time to compare landlord insurance.

Collaboration with CIA Landlord Insurance

Living Room

The main living area is the place where you entertain, so you are going to want it to look its best. It's hard to do this, though when everything in the room is someone else's taste and style. There are some really easy tricks to jazz up your living space and make it a bit more 'you'. Sometimes you can rearrange the existing furniture to give it a new look, but nothing beats the personal touch of items you have picked out yourself.

Throws and Cushions

Whilst we are on the subject of soft furnishings, you can't go wrong with a throw. If the sofa is a little bit loud, you can soften it with a neutral throw. Equally, a bold print will give a plain sofa a much-needed lift. They will also cover any threadbare patches and make everything seem newer and more up to date. Cushions are a great way to bring a room together. Take colours from the furniture in the room and tie them together in some patterned cushions for the sofa. Additional comfort and a splash of style, just what a living room needs!


Fresh flowers are a lovely way to brighten up a home. In the old days, when I had money (before I had children), I always used to have a vase of white lilies on my kitchen table. There is something really uplifting about the scent and colour splash of fresh flowers, but artificial flowers are also an option for a greener, longer-lasting statement. Choose from a few large brightly coloured bold blooms or a posy of smaller delicate buds. Anything goes for a vase, depending on budget, a wine bottle, or vintage style milk bottle adds an authentic twist. 


You may not be able to make holes in the walls, but that doesn't mean you can't use a good quality temporary fastening, such as Command Strips, to secure colourful posters without damaging the plaster. Posters aren't just for kids anymore, either, there are a wealth of companies that provide arty, stylish pieces to break up dull wall space and provide a talking point for your room. 

Light Shades

It's very easy to change the light shade to something that suits you better, you just have to keep the originals somewhere safe to put back when you move out. You could choose a colour that compliments or coordinates your other soft furnishings. If the light fittings are fitted, you can't do much yourself, but if you happen to know an electrician, it's not that complicated to change them to something a bit more exciting. Again, just keep the originals safe to put back when you move out.


You don't have to be especially green-fingered to keep a variety of interesting houseplants. Many houseplants are surprisingly easy to grow, such as the Parlour Palm, the Cheese Plant (not stinky) or the aptly-named Cast Iron Plant, otherwise known as the Aspidistra. There are lots of other examples and they grow to good heights so you can put them on the floor if surface space is lacking. A quick chat with a specialist at your local garden centre should help you choose the perfect plants for your home. 

Brilliant Photo by Katya Austin on Unsplash


Comfort is a huge priority here and everything you do to improve the space should have this in mind. However, there is something very uncomfortable about sleeping in a room that doesn't feel like yours, so we definitely need to maximise the personality in this area. 


Strategically placed mirrors can really change the look of a room and can be hung, or freestanding depending on what space is available. I love the look of a vintage mirror leaning on a ledge, or chest, even a window sill. A freestanding mirror can have storage in it too, serving two purposes for the space-restricted bedroom. 


You can cover up a multitude of unfortunate stains with a rug, which is great if the rental flooring is looking a bit the worse for wear and in need of an update. They also come in a range of colours and designs, whether you want to tone down a carnival carpet or brighten up a sea of beige, a rug will do the job. It's also great for adding a bit of texture to keep your feet from the laminate on a cold winter's morning. There are low priced options or, if you want to invest in something a bit better quality, you can be safe in the knowledge that it can go with you when you leave. I have a rug that I've had since I was a teenager and it's still going strong, so if you stick to classic styles, it could be with you for a really long time. 


Lamps are a much softer way to distribute light around a room, which makes them more suitable for a bedroom, where you want to relax, not be operated on or interrogated. They are completely removable, so can go with you if you have to vacate and come in a wide range of tastes and styles to suit every budget. All you need is a wall plug and you're ready to go. 

Free-Standing Shelves

You can never have enough storage and rental properties are often lacking in that department, but, if you know this isn't your forever home, do you really want to be investing inexpensive furniture that may not suit your next property if you have to move? Probably not, so inexpensive shelving is the answer. You can jazz a shelf unit up with some fun accessories, like colourful storage boxes or bookends and there is nearly always somewhere to repurpose shelves if you end up moving elsewhere. 


The bedroom is the perfect place to add some strategically placed well-chosen frames on the available surfaces. The ultimate personal touch is photographs, but you could also pick a small painting or print to brighten up your place and groups of prints can be even more effective if you have space. Even the frame can be carefully selected for your particular style; chunky, or delicate, aluminium or wood, each one will help the room achieve a different look. 

Photo by Rumman Amin on Unsplash


You wouldn't think it would be possible, or even necessary to personalise the smallest room, but the fact it is so small is all the more reason to brighten it up with some fun, quirky and even practical ideas. We're on a roll here, no need to stop just yet!

Suction Shelves

Because the people who furnish them don't often live there, rental properties can often be lacking in the sort of common-sense ideas that only arise from spending a lot of time in a place. Like somewhere to put your bits and bobs in the shower. It seems like a small thing, but it's something that often bugs me about holiday lets; I don't want to be doing a stretching workout, trying to find my shampoo on the shower floor, with water in my eyes. Easily fixed, though, as you can get shelves with little suction cups on, that don't need any permanent fixing and are a doddle to put up. They also give you extra storage, which is even better. 

Over-Door Hooks

I'm adding this one because it does solve the problem if you have nowhere to hang your towel. without drilling holes anywhere, BUT some of these hooks wiggle about on top of the door and end up gouging the paintwork. So, if you are going to get some, be very careful to check the reviews and perhaps add a layer of something soft between the hook and the door to cushion it a bit. 

Shower Curtain 

A shower curtain, if you have one, is a cheap, easy option to replace and a change of colour or pattern works wonders. You can even get one to match your towels and create a bit of a colour scheme. Just keep the original somewhere safe, so that you can replace it when it comes time to vacate the property. 

Toilet Roll Holder

 Your rental bathroom may come with a run-of-the-mill wall holder but if it doesn't, or you want something a bit quirkier, you can now by free-standing options featuring animals, such as giraffes or sheep or, my personal favourite, a waiter. It occurred to me, actually, and I don't know if this is true, it's not the kind of thing that you can come right out and ask, would it be helpful to a left-handed person to have the paper on the other side? Is there, not to put too fine a point on it, a dominant wiping hand? Either way, you may find your wall holder is too far back or something, so it could still solve a problem, as well as being a talking point and really cool. 


Accessories are a great low-cost way to add colour to a small space and there are many accessories that are particularly appropriate for a bathroom, such as scented candles, oil diffusers and pretty pots of pot pourri. Accessories don't have to be functional, but it does help when you only have a small space to work with. Other useful accessories that can add a splash of personality are decorative soaps and bath bombs, natural sponges and interesting bottles of bath oil or bubbles. 

Photo by Icons8 Team on Unsplash


I was really surprised at how many ideas I came up with to inject some personality into the kitchen and some of them are even good for you. Unleash your inner culinary connoisseur with this fun and functional ideas. 

Storage on Wheels

A portable vegetable rack on wheels was one of the first purchases I made when I left home. It was such a useful item to have, as it could slot sideways into a gap and the slide out baskets could be used for anything, so if you no longer needed it in the kitchen, it could be repurposed elsewhere. The top also made a useful space to put things if surface space was limited and, again, totally removable if you decide to move elsewhere. 

Decorative Jars

You wouldn't think there would be all that many ways to personalise a kitchen but it turns out there are quite a few and the humble jar is definitely one not to overlook. We all need somewhere to store those little food bits that don't like being exposed to the air, such as nuts, seeds and croutons, but why have plain jars, when you can have some that represent your personality? And, if you are particularly creative, you could even grab some glass paint and make your own. 

Freestanding Mug Tree

Since I stopped renting privately, I have still found myself living with really small kitchens, so I have my mugs on cup hooks underneath a shelf. The next best thing, though, if you can't drill holes, is a colourful mug tree. Because of the vertical nature of the tree, it can hold 6, or even 8 mugs in a relatively small surface area. You can also get stacking mugs which can be purchased fairly cheaply and come in a range of patterns and designs. 

Fridge Magnets

If you find the front of fridge is just too white for your taste, some quirky fridge magnets could be just what you need to break up the boredom. The perfect way to choose something to suit you personally, they also make brilliant souvenirs, as they don't take up much space, or need a nail to hang them up. 

Herb Garden

Growing herbs on your window sill is fun, satisfying and healthy. Not only do they look and smell amazing, they are also really good for you and might even encourage you to be more adventurous with your cooking. They also make you look like a really professional cook, even if you can barely boil an egg. 

I hope these ideas have inspired you to inject your own individuality into your little empire, or the empire of someone else, as a lot of these suggestions would make great housewarming gifts. Just because you don't own your place, there's no reason why you shouldn't take every opportunity to make your house a home. 

Square Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash


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