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How to Personalize a Rental Place

Tenants face the challenge of how to make someone else’s house their home within a limited budget and restrictions from landlords, but there are many ways they can introduce a personal touch to a rented space.

Rental properties seem like temporary housing, but according to interior designer Jenny Martin, a lot of people make renting their lifestyle choice and do it long term.

“When a tenant moves into a place it can be hard to really make it their own without investing a bunch of money into something you’ll be leaving behind,” she says.

According to the Victoria-based Martin, renters should consider investing in strategic pieces that can be installed and removed easily when they move out.

“People can purchase a feature dining room pendant to be installed by an electrician. The existing one is boxed up and the two are switched out when they leave,” she says. “You may not want to do things like that if you were renting for a year. It would be better for a more long-term situation.”

Building managers and landlords may have strict rules around what changes can be made to a rental space, but Martin says there are ways tenants can add big impact to a space without making permanent modifications.

If there are limitations on painting, the easiest way is to add a pop of colour through furniture, art and draperies.

“Spending more time on how your furniture relates to the space is important because you can integrate colours with pieces of furniture or toss pillows,” Martin says. “A tenant could get a custom or antique mantel to lean against the wall to add some architectural elements without having to be installed.”

Even though landlords can have concerns about their renters making changes to their property, interior decorator Chantelle Butterfield says many are looking to add value to their home.

“Tenants just don’t ask their landlords what they are open to,” says Butterfield, owner of Funktional Spaces in Saskatoon, Sask.

“A lot of landlords are open to free labour as long as it is done well. Landlords are just people. They aren’t monsters. They are looking to add value to their property. (They appreciate) tenants who aren’t abusing the property, but instead are taking pride in the space and adding value to it by adding dollars and some sweat equity.”

Butterfield says an easy way a tenant can both make a dramatic change to their rental space and add value to their landlord’s property is by updating the kitchen with painted and refinished cabinet doors plus hardware.

“It’s all a matter of budget, and what you have permission to do,” says Butterfield. “Painting and refinishing the cabinets can add value to the home, but a tenant could remove the doors and replace them, and store away the old ones and take the new ones when they left.”

While it may seem tenants face restrictions, Butterfield says they are only limited by imagination and budget.

“As long as they have lots of imagination, they don’t need a huge budget,” she says.

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