John Lewis Anyday Arlo Pair Lined Eyelet Curtains
Turn your rental into your perfect home with our stylish and affordable ANYDAY brand
They say that home is where the heart is and we all love to surround ourselves with things that make us happy, nowhere more so than at home.
When you’re renting, it can sometimes feel as though it’s all about restrictions – what you can or can’t do, whether you can paint or even hang a picture on the wall. But even within limitations, there’s always scope to be creative and to make each room look and feel like your own.
We asked interiors experts for their top tips and have picked out some great affordable design from our ANYDAY brand.
Kicking off in perhaps the toughest room of all, a rental kitchen is not beyond hope. Joanna Thornhill, interiors stylist and author of Home For Now and Insta-Style For Your Living Space (Cico Books), says, ‘Kitchens look tricky but there’s plenty you can do with vinyl stickers for doors and tiles. If cabinet handles aren’t to your taste, switch for your own where possible, keeping the originals to switch back when you move out.’
‘Open shelving is a great addition,’ says Bethan Harwood (@johnlewis_bethan), Partner & Home Design Stylist. ‘It gives more storage space and there’s lots of great coloured glass and china in the ANYDAY brand for creating displays.’
Wil Law (@johnlewis_wil), Partner & Home Design Stylist, agrees: ‘Clusters of chopping boards, glass jars filled with dried pulses and colourful caddies will easily cheer up a gloomy space. Also, never underestimate the power of a print. You could introduce some leaning artwork on your worktop, a cookbook with a beautiful cover, or even a graphic tea towel to add a splash of colour and movement,’ he adds.
And there’s no need to look down on the flooring either. ‘Indoor/outdoor rugs can hide ugly tiles or vinyl and bring visual softness to the space,’ assures Joanna.
Rental properties tend be decorated neutrally – white walls are easiest to repaint at the end of a tenancy and are more forgiving than colours for touch-ups. But don’t see them as boring – in fact neutrals offer a blank canvas where your choice of colours and textures can shine.
In any room, clustering accessories and curating displays will draw the eye towards pleasing things. ‘Accessories are your friend,’ says Joanna. ‘Start by assessing each room and deciding on a predominant colour (or colours) you’d like to bring through into that space. For instance, in a living space, some floor-to-ceiling curtains that tie in with cushions and art prints can really pull the scheme together.’
Bethan agrees that curtains can be an instant room changer. ‘We have some great ready-mades but also think about layering in sheer panels or blinds. Landlords tend to supply basic curtains but not much beyond and additional sheers are great for creating privacy,’ she says.
“ANYDAY has a contemporary feel that works so well in new builds. The look is sleek and modern with a Scandi feel – it’s perfect for new homes”
If your landlord says no to paint, there are still ways to bring style to your walls. Posters and prints tend to be lightweight and can be hung with adhesive strips or other mark-free fittings.
In a bedroom, layering up new linens will have a huge impact, and don’t forget a colourful rug. Joanna suggests going for the largest rug you can find: ‘If and when you move, it’s far easier to make a large rug work in a smaller space than a little rug look good in a more expansive area,’ she says.
Opt for flexible lighting in the bedroom. Overhead light is fine for getting ready in the morning but bedside lamps give a softer glow at night. Plug-in wall lights are great for boutique-hotel styling without permanent wiring, freeing up bedside tables for more creative displays.
The beauty of renting is that nothing is permanent, so feel free to rethink the space entirely and repurpose a spare bedroom into the walk-in wardrobe you’ve always wanted. Use screens and lightweight curtains to conceal anything you don’t want on show or to create a ‘room within a room’. And if your needs change, you’ll have some great furniture, accessories and interiors inspiration all set for your next home.
“If you’re tight on space, then invest in a surface that can function as a work desk in the day, then transition to dining at night. Your additional seating can be flexible”
Investing in a sofa is definitely worthwhile. ‘Think about the longevity of the shape, like a corner sofa,’ advises Alexandra Fox (@johnlewis_alexandra), Partner & Home Design Stylist. ‘If you need the sofa to work through numerous moves, then maybe a 3-seater and an accent chair would give better flexibility.’
‘It makes sense to spend more on the things that can move with you from home to home,’ adds Joanna. ‘Built-in shelves (if the landlord allows you to install them) will be left behind so look for flexible shelving units that can be rearranged to fit into alcoves or along a wall.’ A sideboard made up of separate parts will keep options open too. ‘Modular pieces also help with the logistics of getting otherwise bulky furniture items in and out of different properties,’ adds Joanna.
Finally, get into the habit of thinking like a stylist and pay attention to how you curate your space. ‘A couple of hours spent rearranging ornaments, swapping items between rooms and simply clearing out what no longer serves a purpose can be surprisingly transformative and costs nothing,’ says Joanna, who also suggests using plants to add interest. ‘They add personality and can instantly lift a space.’