Rental Properties: 10 Top Tips To Making One Feel Like Home
Moving into a rental house or rental apartment is an exciting time. You’ve got a great new place to live, and a new neighbourhood to explore.
But it can sometimes be a bit of a struggle to make rental properties feel your own. Calling a place a "home" isn’t always the same as feeling like one.
That doesn’t always come naturally, and sometimes takes a little bit of extra work, since renting offers some unique considerations.
It might come with furniture, meaning you’re moving into someone else’s impression of what a home should look and feel like.
Even if you do move in your own furniture, there are boundaries about decorating rental properties, and what’s possible with a carefully crafted rental agreement.
If you’re looking for landed properties or apartments for rent, don’t let this hold you back. We’ve put together a list of 10 top tips to make a house feel like a home in any rental property!
1) Check Your Lease Agreement
Okay folks, number one isn’t the most exciting part of transforming your rental property yet, but it’s where you’ve got to start – check your rental rights and obligations.
There is no single law that governs rental rights in Malaysia yet, and as such, a tenancy agreement is critical to understanding the responsibilities and expectations of your rented property.
These agreements are broadly covered under the Contract Acts 1950, as a contract between two or more consenting parties.
What a tenancy agreement does is set down the agreed conditions between renter and landlord. It covers things like maintaining the property to a decent standard, not damaging fixtures or fittings, as well as not renovating or altering the property.
Don’t freak out though! There’s still plenty you can do. Just remember to speak to the landlord if any of your suggested changes might be more major – such as refitting the entire kitchen, or changing the wiring!
2) Rearrange The Furniture
This is such a simple thing to do, but can have a really powerful impact on how you view your living space.
Rearranging furniture means you transform how a room looks, and indeed how you experience it, offering new angles for viewing that really change the dynamics!
Not only does this unlock areas of space for you to include new items to add your personal touch to the property, it should give the whole rental apartment or rental house a new look and feel.
If you’re worried about the landlord complaining – just remember to switch it all back before you end your tenancy! Just watch out and not scrape the walls or floor when you move things around…
3) Add Loose Furniture
Loose furniture is a great idea for decorating a rented apartment or landed property, offering a simple, straightforward way to add some of your own design ideas to a space.
Loose furniture can be simple things like coat stands, side tables, lamps, and any item that transforms your home without needing to borrow six of your friends to move the thing in!
There’s so much outstanding furniture design out there that this is a fantastic opportunity to bring in some stunning new looks to a room.
Let your imagination run wild and pick items that truly offer a unique addition that match your preferences, and make that rental home your own.
4) Remove Some Items
Often, when we talk about decorating rental property, we think of ‘adding’ things, but it’s just as easy to take unnecessary/unwanted things away.
Taking art from the walls and replacing it with things you like, or hiding a dated old table lamp in a cupboard, is a powerful way to feel like you have control over a property.
Just treat them with respect, store them safely, and remember that you’ve likely got an obligation to return them to the landlord in the same condition as they were when you moved in.
If you’re replacing an old and dated item with something new, contemporary, and more to your taste, you can probably just let the landlord know and they’ll be happy for the replacement. That does mean you need to leave it when you move out, however!
5) Transform The Lights
Transforming the lighting in a property can really make it feel more alive, and somehow change the feel of a room to make it more bright and airy (or dark and brooding if that’s your thing!)
There are a number of ways you can do this. The most obvious is by changing the light bulb type, lamp shades, and adding or removing lamps.
A lamp that gives off warm light can create a beautiful ambience in a room that a harsh, overhead light can often fail to capture.
Consider adding mirrors in strategic locations too, so they can amplify the natural light. That’s particularly valuable when trying to brighten up a shadowy spot such as an internal corridor, and adds valuable illumination to a rental apartment.
6) Make It Personal
Buying new furniture and changing the lamps is one thing, but nothing makes a space your very own quite like adding an emotional touch.
Using pictures of friends and family is an obvious method, but it’s a really powerful way to build a connection with a rental home.
The same is true for choosing your own art and decor. Picking out paintings or artworks that really appeal to you is a great way to let your style live free in a rental property.
If you’re worried about putting too many holes in the walls and possibly forfeiting your deposit, there are a range of alternative products you can use instead.
Adhesive sticky hangers, blue tack, sticky wall hooks, and even bookcases and shelving all offer a way to put up pictures without damaging the paint or the wall itself. Just be careful when you take them off again!
7) Tie It Together With A Rug
Flooring is often one of the most difficult parts of a rental apartment to transform. You can’t go around digging up carpets or replacing floorboards – that’s almost certainly outside your rental agreement!
But that doesn’t mean you’re powerless. Adding a rug, or multiple rugs, is a great way to introduce a bit of your own style while also covering up tired areas of flooring.
That means you can tie together the room with a unifying style that fits your loose furnishings, or simply add a bit of colour and statement piece that transforms the space in a bold and vivid fashion.
The great thing about a rug? It’s small enough so you can take it with you when you move, which means that ‘feeling of home’ travels onwards with you.
8) Plant A Seed Of Change
Houseplants have been getting a lot of attention recently, and for a good reason! Having some natural additions to your rental apartment or house is such an easy, but transformative way to change the space around you.
Not only can plants add a welcome breath of fresh air to a space, they can have a REALLY positive impact on your mental health.
We’re wired to be uplifted by nature, so plants provide a perfect opportunity to not just put your own unique natural twist in a space, but do so in a positive way.
Choosing some plants with a splash of colour also contributes to the overall decor and aesthetic, giving another opportunity to make a rental house feel more like your own home.
The fact that you can nurture them and then take them to your next home also adds a feeling of continuity about your living space.
9) Make Memories In The Space
This is something we so often overlook when talking about making a rental property your own. You can add all the rugs, knick-knacks, and plants you like, but a home is more than just a look – it’s a feeling.
You should try early on to make positive memories in a space, and even record them with photos that you can print out to add to the idea of making it personal with pictures.
With the crazy world of CMCOs/MCOs and visiting restrictions, this idea of making memories in a space might be more challenging, but it’s also more important than ever.
Make an effort when you can, to have friends and family round for a focused celebration of your new property, whether that’s a big family meal or just a friendly catch up, and make sure you put the emotional stamp on your property as well as just a physical one!
10) Repaint And Remodel (Landlord Permission Required!)
Ok, finally the big ambition – repaint and remodel an apartment! Let’s face it, landlords are renting out property with the main aim of making a profit.
They’re not tyrants, and oftentimes the best way to make a rental property work, is with honest communication (and timely payment of rent!).
In that scenario, it’s not exactly impossible for you to repaint, remodel, or upgrade an apartment. After all, that should increase its value for the landlord too!
You just need to make sure you’ve spoken nicely with them about it, gotten clear permission for the changes, and recorded everything in writing.
Changing the colour of a rental property can have a big psychological impact, on top of just some pleasing aesthetics.
It really gives you a sense of empowerment that you live in a property you control. The same goes for things like adding or changing the wallpaper.
With rental properties, the question of redecorating is a little more complex. Not only should you seek permission first, you should make it VERY clear that you and the landlord are in agreement on what and how you will change it.
Saying you’re repainting the walls and then transforming the walls into a multi-coloured rainbow mural is probably not going to end up well. Clearly communicate what the changes will be, and get those changes approved in advance!