Hannah Smith was, until very recently, our Buying Assistant on Upholstery. Having spent a good few years house sharing, Hannah was desperate for a space of her own. Living by yourself in London (without a trust fund!) ain’t easy, but by moving a bit further out Hannah now rents a studio flat in West Norwood, south-east London. The area has a village-y vibe with independent coffee shops and local pubs; Brixton is only 15 mins away, and there are great connections to central London. Here she shares her tips for small space living and making a rental feel like a home.
Rugs are a great way to ‘zone off’ areas and create the feeling of different sections (particularly in studios where your living space is all-in-one). I have a neutral coloured rug my living room area with bright coloured accessories such as cushions and plant pots. I have a different colour over in my bedroom area to make that section feel separate. The colour injection provides a different look to the space. I also have a little rug in my kitchen area and bathroom to make them feel cosier than they actually are. It goes without saying that a rug will cover up a less-than-attractive carpet.
KNOBS AND KNOCKERS
A great idea that easily makes a rental place more homely is changing door and drawer knobs. You can do this in your kitchen to update tired units and give them more character. Remember to keep the old ones somewhere safe (like in a food bag, at the back of a kitchen drawer) so you can easily put them back when you move out (and retain that highly prized deposit!).
An unfurnished rental can seem quite daunting: you’ve already splashed out on an advance rent plus the deposit so there’s precious little left for furniture. But unfurnished means you can start finding your style. A bed is a necessity (and, anyway, secondhand mattresses? Ewww!) but the rest can be found as funds allow. A home takes time to create. Look at these pieces as investments: choose well and you’ll only have to buy it once (saving you money in the long run) as each purchase (whilst crippling at the time) follows you on every house move.
But unfurnished rentals are quite rare so….
If you’re making the best of your landlord’s taste in furniture, small, portable furniture, like side tables and dining chairs, can make a huge difference (without investing the big bucks). They work wonders at not only being practical but they can brighten up the room and give it personality.
The Blythe side table also provides much-needed storage. Prop pictures against the wall if you’re not allowed to drill into the walls.
I don’t need a full-on dining set up when it’s just me but it’s one of life’s little joys to invite a few mates over to my place for dinner. My dining set seats 4 comfortably but can be folded up entirely (I often store it behind the sofa!) when I don’t need it.
Hannah’s home features the Macadam chair
IN THE FRAME
Putting up large frames and mirrors creates a homely feel and adds interest to those boring magnolia walls. If you are allowed to, nail into the walls. If not, ‘prop’ large prints up against the wall. For smaller frames use those sticky picture strips. They really work!
Plants plants plants! One of the favourite things in my flat is my lovely big fern. It literally provide life and colour. If you haven’t got room for big plants then some cacti/succulents or smaller plants are a wonderful way to make somewhere more homely.Plant them out in interesting and decorative pots (don’t just leave them in that brown plastic one!). If you have a relaxed landlord who allows you to put up some hanging ones, so much the better!
HEY, GOOD LOOKING [STORAGE]!
Don’t be tempted by countless plastic crates, even though they’re cheap. They’re so ugly, you’re just creating another thing you’ll have to hide. Make a feature of storage by choosing attractive baskets and boxes instead. I have a mixture of woven wicker and woven plastic baskets in complimentary colours for keeping all those little bits that you may not have enough storage for. It somehow makes it ok to throw things on a high shelf/under a bed/on top of a wardrobe if it’s in a beautiful basket! Even stacked high they’ll still look great.
Bingham woven basket