I have an idea for yet another make-over show. It’s for rented homes, and will have a glamorous celeb finding drama and poignant stories while renovating a rented home – but there’s no warm fuzzy ending to gladden our hearts.
Recently, the BBC requested my thoughts on renting – now permanent reality for many, and how to make it less, well – crap. They misinterpreted some of my suggestions, listing ‘get rid of clutter.’ Nothing major, but I’d said something stronger. I’d said get rid of any extraneous possessions.
Making your home look fantastic, rendering it comfortable is a challenge when you might have to up and move at least once per year, maybe every six month, and furniture is included. One rentier even chose paintings, and had them screwed to the wall making it harder to change them. It’s like living in a show home, only all the furniture is faded and shredded.
The first trick is to discard any superfluous possessions. Keep only what you can imagine lugging up and down three flights of stairs, alone. I’ve disposed of my vinyl. I was once a music journalist, so some of it was tasty, even valuable, but I just couldn’t carry those bags anymore. Ipods are so useful here, but yes – it’s hard. Tenants can’t afford to be hoarders.
The point was made in posts and comments that rentiers should not refuse the reasonable request to decorate, especially if tenants paint the walls greige again when the vacate. Take pictures to record your actions is my advice, protecting yourself from deposit slicing letting agents.
Other than that plants, and pictures, what can you do? Trying to make proper home, which is pleasant attractive and personalised matters – you spend time there, and owners are more concerned with resilience than beauty.
Try providing small items of your own manageable furniture like desks (why do owners so rarely provide them, even in student lets?) Make sure they are portable – you can load some onto roof-racks, and when in the revolving doors of in/out renting – this matters.
Blinds and curtains help, and there’s nothing to stop you removing then safely storing those vile, threadbare drapes, replaced when you leave. Or bettering what was supplied by owners like the ones who provided blinds that stopped half way up.
My pet hate is old tiny wardrobes. I prefer rails, from shop-fitters – easy to carry, any wardrobes filled with boxes, books and mouldy old curtains. You could also buy at least one comfy chair, even in a furnished home, at least second hand.
The worst part is carpets. Mouldy, stained, smelly and defiantly maroon, they usually come with huge sofas that ‘ping’ every time you sit, which you can cover in cloths or blankets.
I’ve said it before, but continental renting is usually unfurnished allows for decorating. It’s true that tenants stay longer, and put the walls back as they were, but personalising your home is accepted. Renting can be so dispiriting. Fitting your entire life into one van every few months is humbling. Let us paint.