A couple of weeks ago we invited serial renter Amara Hasham onto the podcast to talk about her clever rental hacks and there were too many ideas to fit into the show notes so I thought I would create a separate post for you here because, of course rental hacks aren’t just for renters.
Maybe, like Amara, who is married to a pilot and is always on the move, your lifestyle makes renting more practical. Maybe you are waiting to climb onto the housing ladder or maybe you own a property but you are saving up to make big changes and you want some ideas that are either reversible or won’t break the bank in the meantime. It’s about affordable ideas for making the best of what you have at the time because if the pandemic has taught us anything it’s that living in rooms that don’t suit us isn’t good for either daily inspiration or longer term mental health. So anything we can do to bring our interiors more in line with our tastes and needs is a good thing.
As Amara says: “It’s about creating that feeling of home wherever we are because even if it’s a borrowed home you don’t have to live in magnolia.” Unless you want to of course!
Of course the first thing is to bring the landlord on board with your ideas and I appreciate that sometimes that’s just no doable. Years ago The Mad Husband and I rented a flat in west London, which the landlady cleared wanted as her city pied à terre but her husband had insisted she rent out. She would turn up unannounced to check we hadn’t hung pictures or changed anything. When we moved out we did, of course, lose our deposit, but sometimes sometimes, you have to weigh up the balance between being able to make your space work a little better for you for the period of time you are going live there versus the possible loss of a deposit.
Amara has built up a good relationship with her landlord during the 10 years she has been living in this house and says he understands that she and her family will take care of the property. And that’s another key piece of advice – start small, do it well and show the owner that you are careful and considerate in what you propose to do.
So onto Amara’s tips and tricks for renters:
Amara has used 12 different hacks in the house – they are all damage free and reversible.
You can buy peel and stick wallpaper but the designs are limited and you might not always find what you want. Amara has come up with a method that means you can use any wallpaper you want from any manufacturer so the choice is instantly greater.
She first covers the wall in self-adhesive clear vinyl – what we used to call sticky back plastic and put on our school exercise books. It peels off the wall. Simply apply then add your wallpaper paste and then apply the wallpaper.
Another trick Amara has used in her daughter’s room is to create a geometric wall pattern using washi tape.
Or, one that I have used myself – stick wall decals which you can find on etsy, ebay and Blik.
All of these ideas are good for children’s rooms – even if you are a home owner – as their tastes and requirements change rapidly.
This is one of the most common issues for renters and tiles are expensive and messy to replace even if you don’t rent.
Amara has used more sticky back plastic but this time in blackboard style on the tiles. “It cost about £30 and then I painted a mural on top in acrylic paint and with three children and all the vandalism and steam and baths it has stayed there for about three years now.
“I want my home to be a fusion of my personality and my beliefs and our family jokes and things that are very personal to us. I call myself a considered maximalist- I love eclectic style and colour but I don’t want it to be just another maximalist home – I want every piece to mean something to me, to us, as a family.
“So the word “grace” is on my gallery wall because I am always bumping into people and making silly mistakes when I text and my kids say ‘you have the grace of an elephant’ and so we made it into a print. There are a lot of personal elements in our style.”
Another idea is stick on cork tiles as well – they have the glue on already and it’s a good glue so you don’t need to add anything more. This makes a good pinboard in a bedroom or office space.
To make the glue easier to remove from either vinyl, decals or tiles simply warm it up with a hairdryer which softens it and makes it easier to remove.
How to hang pictures in a rented house
I use lightweight frames with a plastic front so they are lighter and easier to hang. You can use command strips or something from Ikea that works. That way you don’t need to drill.
Always follow the instructions and clean the wall first.
Duvet Cover Wall Mural
That is one of my favourite hacks. The mural is a duvet from H&M which cost £24.99 and I opened the seams and put the clear vinyl on the wall and stuck the duvet on it.
1 Stick the plastic
2 Paste the plastic
3 Soak the fabric in paste.
4 Stick the fabric to the wall
“There is some fearlessness for sure. I think it might not work but I think it’s good to try. If it does it gives you confidence to try the next idea.”
A New Headboard
A big headboard is very expensive and if you aren’t allowed to wallpaper the walls then try this which looks like a fabric covered headboard but is a piece of MDF that is wallpapered so you can used wallpaper without putting it on the walls.
I used masking tape and painted my own design on it too.
Another of Amara’s ideas was to replace the headboard on a metal bed frame by buying a new upholstered headboard and fixing it in front of the metal frame with cable ties. So simple and so clever.
“Choose a small space and build from that. A small change leads to a big change”
Do follow Amara on Instagram @thepajaamahub to see more of her clever rental hacks and ideas.