If you’re one of the 4 million private tenants trapped in renting cycle, you’ll know all too well the pain of dealing with rogue landlords, annoying flatmates and just how hard it can be hard to make your rented house feel like a home. In a new weekly feature, long term tenant (and rent a gob on such issues) Zoe will share some tips and tricks she’s picked up over the years as a tenant and recommended purchases to help soften to blow of being part of Generation Rent.
With all your bedroom problems solved last week, it’s time to take a look at the living room….
If you’re lucky enough to share a house or flat with people you don’t actually utterly despise (or perhaps a partner who you only loathe now and again) then you might find yourself actually spending quite a bit of time in your front room. As I mentioned last week, chances are your shared living space is decked out in furniture that would be more suited to a porn set than a home; black leather casting couches, glass top coffee tables only a cocaine addict could appreciate and canvases hanging up that were picked up in a sale at Poundland.
But, with a few purchases and tricks and tips, you CAN actually polish a turd….
The Fancy Cushion
If you’re stuck with an ugly ass couch then it can ruin the aesthetic of the whole room. How can you decorate when a big fat eyesore is dominating the space? It’s bad enough it’s not particularly comfortable and isn’t great for slobbing out on a Sunday, hungover and self loathing, but does it have really look as bad as it feels?
Firstly, don’t fight it. It’s going nowhere and just lashing throws all over the place trying to hide it just makes it look like you’ve been inspired by an episode of Changing Rooms from the 90s. In my experience of dealing with ugly couches, it’s best to just work with what you’ve got.
Get yourself a real fancy cushion. One that’ll you’ll actually plump and protect so much you turn into Monica Geller. A pillow that will leave you bit on edge whenever a guest gets a little too comfortable on your couch near it.
I recommend going for an iconic Orla Kiely design for two reasons; 1) They’re genuinely great cushions and will suit most homes 2) The print is recognisable so that means people will know it wasn’t picked up in the Next Boxing Day sale.
It can feel ridiculous to spend 35 quid on a cushion, you might want to go to church for the first time in years for confession, but it’s 100% worth it. It’s a statement piece, you notice the difference in quality and so will other people. Putting a posh cushion on your most hated piece of furniture will make you focus on what you love, not what you despise when you sit down to binge watch a series on Netflix.
You’re probably strapped for storage space so could do with making the most of the blank walls but you might not be able to risk drilling and losing your deposit, can you? Luckily, I’ve found these cute showcase shelves which, while are meant to be screwed into the wall, are light enough to be supported by the renter’s trusty old friend, command strips. Just be careful not to overload them.
Make your wall a feature and pop some cute photo frames, trinkets or even a cactus up there. Top Tip: don’t spend over a tenner on one from Urban Outfitters when you can get one for a couple of quid from a garden centre and whack it in a cheap candle holder.
Invest in Art
When I say art, I do not mean having a poster of Scarface put up with Blue Tac like your boyfriend still has lingering on his walls.
No, invest in something a bit quirky and go all out. This is one of the pros of renting – you don’t need to spend cash on mundane things like getting a washing machine fixed; leaving you free to blow 50 quid on getting an original bit of art from the latest art fair in the Baltic Creative.
If you’re a little strapped for cash (maybe you keep spending all your money fancy cushions) then you don’t need to splash out. You can nip down to Paperchase and get some cute little postcards for less than a quid and frame them yourself like I have here.
As you can also see in this picture, I’ve got the most amazing copper Umbra Strum Shelf from Red Candy for displaying my over priced magazines. It’s only a tenner and it’s one of the things in my flat that always attracts the most compliments. I’m ordering another one as we speak to hold all the post (aka bills I’m ignoring) in my hall.
Create a little ambiance
A big fat floor lamp is one extravagant purchase that can change the whole appearance of a room, create a bit of ambiance and make it that little bit more homely of an evening. This gorgeous orange angled floor lamp from Hurn & Hurn is perfect for the living room and distract focus from those horrible couches.
The only downside is it’s one more light you might forget to turn off. Remember when your dad said how you’d change your tune about the house looking like Blackpool Illuminations once you started paying bills yourself? Eurgh, why does he always have to be right.