Home sweet home

> Tips to make a rented house more homely

The Sun (Malaysia) - - MEDIA & MARKETING - BY ALYSSA J. OON

LIKE it or not, own­ing a prop­erty unit marks suc­cess in life, which could be a rea­son why many Malaysians shun the idea of rent­ing. House prices have risen over the past few years, so too has pop­u­lar­ity in own­er­ship of prop­erty for in­vest­ment and to pro­vide fi­nan­cial se­cu­rity in an un­sta­ble econ­omy. How­ever, not ev­ery­one can af­ford to buy a house, es­pe­cially the young who are start­ing out on their ca­reers. Hence, many young Malaysians have no choice but to rent to make ends meet and hold off own­ing a home of their own un­til later in life.

In the case of rentals, land­lords usu­ally try to keep units mod­estly fur­nished, if at all. One rea­son for this “bare es­sen­tial” is to lessen the mar­gins of ex­pen­di­ture on the land­lord’s side, hav­ing to re­pair or re­fur­bish each time a ten­ant comes or goes. Due to this, land­lords usu­ally for­bid ten­ants mak­ing per­ma­nent cos­metic changes to in­te­ri­ors of the home. In fact, some don’t even al­low a nail in the wall.

While this may pose a chal­lenge and dis­cour­age home rentals as home may not come across as homely with­out that soft yel­low light, fam­ily pic­ture wall, your favourite themed in­te­ri­ors or even drapes in­stead of white of­fice blinds, here are a few tips to help put a homely feel to rented res­i­dences.


Be­fore dec­o­rat­ing your rented crib, here are a few im­por­tant de­tails to take note of:

Be sure to get writ­ten per­mis­sion from the land­lord if you want to make any per­ma­nent changes to the unit, such as paint­ing a wall or knock­ing in some nails. Set a bud­get and stick to it. There is no point in spend­ing much on a tem­po­rary address as you might need to re­peat the process when you move again. If this is your first “home”, it will be a good idea to look for fur­ni­ture that can work in dif­fer­ent set­tings and are por­ta­ble. This would mean no fixed or per­ma­nent fur­ni­ture like ceil­ing-to-floor wardrobes or built-in cab­i­nets un­less you are will­ing to leave them be­hind and the land­lord has ap­proved of them. Be­fore start­ing any re­dec­o­ra­tion work, take pho­tos of the home in the state that you first re­ceived it in. This is to avoid any mis­un­der­stand­ing with the land­lord when you move out and re­turn the unit/keys. Have boxes ready to keep any rental fix­tures that you might want to re­place with your own decor. These make it eas­ier when mov­ing out.


With all the safety nets in place, it is time to put your cre­ativ­ity to the test and work around per­ma­nent fix­tures of your rented abode. Here are some sug­ges­tions for:

Bor­ing white walls Wall­pa­pers, with their bright, bold and beau­ti­ful colours and pat­terns, are quickly be­com­ing a favourite of many home own­ers. Wall­pa­pers also come in a di­verse range of de­signs to suit ev­ery dec­o­ra­tor’s taste and for ev­ery decor theme. The ris­ing pop­u­lar­ity has also given way to a sim­pler and less per­ma­nent so­lu­tion, which is re­mov­able wall­pa­per.

This paste-up, which is eas­ily re­mov­able, of­fers renters a much­needed re­lief to the uni­form and mun­dane white walls that of­ten plas­ter many Malaysian homes. With wall­pa­per, one can cre­ate an ac­cent wall of misty forests for a sub­dued mood in the bed­room to help lull you to sleep or add per­son­al­ity to the liv­ing room with striped pat­terns or prints. In­te­rior de­signer Kyle Schune­man used scotch tape to cre­ate a di­ag­o­nal-striped “wall­pa­per” for the liv­ing room of his rented home. The di­ag­o­nal stripes on ei­ther side of the man­tel helped “an­chor the room and high­light the fire­place as a fo­cal point,” said Schune­man.

For a decor that is slightly eas­ier to put up, look for wall de­cals (also known as stick­ers). These are eas­ier to find at hard­ware stores and DIY shops and are of­ten sold at rel­a­tively low prices. These days, de­cals come in many con­fig­u­ra­tions, as quotes, photo frames and even world maps, among oth­ers.

Some rec­om­men­da­tions sug­gest plac­ing a hor­i­zon­tal de­cal above the couch as an an­chor in the liv­ing room or sil­hou­ettes of fan­tasy crea­tures to dec­o­rate chil­dren’s rooms. When the time comes to move, just peel these off and throw them away.

Stark naked floors Floor­ing is usu­ally the least of prob­lems for Malaysian homes, which is why it is of­ten a ne­glected part of the home scene that hardly re­ceives any at­ten­tion. Learn­ing how to use rugs to de­fine a space can help make rented liv­ing spa­ces feel more homely.

In the midst of house-hunt­ing, lifestyle blog­ger and tex­tile de­signer Joanna Haw­ley put up a post on how she used rugs to de­fine spa­ces in her open-con­cept apart­ment.

“I’m no stranger to stu­dio apart­ment liv­ing. In fact, I’ve never had a bed­room door as a renter. I didn’t re­ally think that a loft would be much dif­fer­ent, but some­how this one does. What­ever the rea­son, I felt a need to de­fine spa­ces within the loft and rugs were a quick and easy way to do that,” Haw­ley wrote on her blog, jo­jo­tas­tic.com

Start­ing with the bed­room, Haw­ley chose a soft 5ft x 7ft yarn rug in beige. The small size avoids an over­pow­er­ing of the an­chor rug, which is the one in the liv­ing room, but still aids in set­ting up the bed­room “zone”.

The liv­ing room “zone” is marked by a 8ft x 10ft rug in shades of black, white and grey. The or­nate de­sign makes it a strik­ing ac­cent that draws at­ten­tion towards the liv­ing area and away from the rest of the loft. The rug fea­tures a black bor­der that visu­ally tricks the eye into cre­at­ing a sep­a­rate zone from the rest of the loft. The neu­tral tones of the two rugs eases the process of com­ple­ment­ing and con­form­ing with fur­ni­ture pieces of any colour.

Dull and life­less in­te­ri­ors An ear­lier tip men­tioned in the ar­ti­cle ad­vises to pur­chase fur­ni­ture pieces that are both easy to move and com­ple­ment with. This may lead many to stay on the safe side and go with neu­tral-coloured pieces. How­ever, one should not stave off from bring­ing colour into the home via ac­cent/small fur­nish­ing pieces.

While re­mov­able wall­pa­per can be used to re­model other parts of the home, Schune­man used pee­land-stick pat­terned wall­pa­per to give the built-in kitchen cab­i­nets an up­grade. The stark white cab­i­nets have since been given a de­signer touch with sil­ver pat­terned stick-on wall­pa­per. Al­ter­na­tively, use mar­ble-de­signed re­mov­able wall­pa­per on kitchen coun­ter­tops for a mod­ern flavour and feel.

In bed­rooms, pur­chase bed­ding, pil­low cases, blan­kets and cur­tains in bright colours and de­signs. When­ever you switch them out, the pops of colour re­main. The best part about us­ing change­able items as colour ac­cents is that ev­ery other week, it looks like you have re­dec­o­rated the home, bring­ing a re­freshed feel­ing to the home and the oc­cu­pants. Bright colours are also known to com­ple­ment neu­tral shades of fur­ni­ture pieces.

An al­ter­na­tive to knock­ing in nails is to use stick-on hooks when hang­ing up pho­tos. This will leave lesser dam­age to the walls, the most, glue stains which can be washed off or hid­den be­hind a coat of paint. Renters can now bring in the “fam­ily feel” to their rented abodes by putting up a gallery wall of fam­ily pho­tos with no worry of ruf­fling the land­lord’s feath­ers.

Lastly, do not let the short pe­riod of liv­ing in a rented space hold you back from dec­o­rat­ing in­te­ri­ors the way you would in a prop­erty of your own. Be cre­ative and dili­gent in find­ing non-per­ma­nent so­lu­tions that al­low you to re­vert the unit to its orig­i­nal state on mov­ing out.

Email your feed­back and queries to: prop­er­tyqs@ the­sundaily.com



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