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A bookshelf is an excellent way to add personality when decorate your small rental apartment

Decorate your small rental apartment so it feels like home

Supported by Rentola

We believe everyone should be able to create a home they love — whether you own the property or not! Decorating a rental home can be challenging and when you add limited space into the mix, it becomes even more tricky. But not impossible! Keep on reading for our 4 top tips to decorate your small rental apartment so it feels cosy and inviting.

Of course, it helps to have a great base to work with and that means searching through all the houses for rent to find the best apartment for your needs. If you’re looking for a new residence, Rentola is a fab rental property search engine that can help you find your dream abode. It has thousands of property listings around the world to choose from and you can easily search by location, type or price bracket.

Right now let’s dive into the best ways to decorate your small rental apartment!

Related article: 21 decorating hacks for rental properties
Related article: Turn your house into a home: Tips and tricks to add warmth and personality, without compromising on style!

Teal bed with colourful throw by Sarah Leslie
Just because you’re renting doesn’t mean you need to restrain your individual style. Have fun with furniture, textiles and decor to create a space that feels like home. Image by artist Sarah Leslie

1. Develop your signature style

Too often when renting, we have a mishmash of furniture and decor that we’ve collected along the way or has been gifted to us. While we’re all for creating spaces with personality… this type of home decorating approach can simply lead to a jumbled mess.

It’s time to create an interior style that inspires you. Think about how you want to feel in your home and begin developing a style that achieves that. A mood board is a great way to pull your ideas together and we’ve got tips on how to create a mood board here.

Developing a new interior decorating scheme doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune or replace everything at once. Sometimes just adding a few new accent pieces can set the tone. And remember less is often more so a great starting point is to simply edit what you already have.

Avalon seating and mirror
Boho or mid-century, eclectic or contemporary, identify your style and find a few key pieces to express it. Image of Avalon Abode, take the tour here

2. Add some artworks

We know, we know… there’s a lot of fear when renting around not wanting to damage the property and lose your bond! But some landlords will give you permission to add a few hooks so you can display your art. Or you could consider using removable adhesive wall hooks for lighter artworks as these have come a long way in recent years.

Also remember, artwork doesn’t have to be hung on walls. You can lean artwork, for example on top of a sideboard or in a bookshelf.

However you do it, adding artworks to your rental apartment will go a long way to make the space feel like home. Art is a form of self expression and will help establish your signature style that we just talked about. You can also use art strategically to steer attention away from a feature of your apartment you don’t like but cannot change. Or hung in the right way, art can also make a room feel larger, brighter or happier.

A bookshelf is an excellent way to add personality when decorate your small rental apartment
This bookshelf styling is a great example of how you can add artwork to a rental property without risk of damaging walls. Image via

3. Embrace living elements

Cut flowers, indoor plants and other living things add… well… liveliness to your home.

There’s plenty of research that supports the link between plants and health benefits, including lowering blood pressure and boosting mood. In fact, biophilic design is a growing design “practice of connecting people and nature within our built environments and communities” [Living Future Institute]. So why not go big with indoor plants? Think plants in pots, in pot plant stands and hanging pots to turn your rental apartment into a plant-filled oasis.

If you’re more of a flower lover, create atmosphere in your home with fresh cut flowers. Use them in a stand alone vase or create a styled vignette on a surface area, such as your dining table or bedside table. Get the most out of your flowers with these tips to extend the life of your cut flowers.

Use flowers to decorate your small rental apartment
Fresh flowers are an easy way to add intense beauty and liveliness to your rental apartment

4. Fix bad lighting

Hands down the most overlooked aspect of design is lighting yet it can have such a big impact on the mood of your home. If your rental apartment only has downlights from the ceiling, consider adding different types of lighting.

The three main types of lighting are ambient, task and accent lighting. Ambient lighting is the general lighting of a room — usually downlights. Task lighting is lighting that’s specifically placed to help you perform tasks, such as hanging pendant lights over a kitchen bench or wall lights next to your bathroom mirror. Accent lighting is that final layer to draw attention and enhance your space, such as illuminating artwork.

Before you think you need to call in an electrician to make costly changes, let us say one word — lamps! With the right table and floor lamps, you can do wonders to change the atmosphere of your apartment and provide much-needed lighting to perform tasks. Simply stringing up fairy lights on your balcony is an easy and low-cost form of accent lighting. And you can also find removable puck lights that can light up dark and difficult corners, such as in the pantry or wardrobe.

Have these home decorating tips to make your small rental apartment feel like home given you some new ideas? Or how do you like to personalise your rental home? Chat with us in the comments below.

More styling ideas

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Kitchen with concrete island bench

A home that feels good for the soul — inside The PAUSE

Taking a peek inside beautiful homes is one of our fave ways to relax, unwind and refill our cup of inspiration. Today’s home tour is no exception, aiming to create that holiday feeling with rejuvenation and connection in mind. We take you inside The PAUSE — a home designed to make you do just that… pause and relax.

Related article: How to: Style a holiday home
Related article: From dated home to luxe holiday style: Before and after home transformation

Exterior of The Pause with teak features
Kitchen with concrete island bench

The Pause is the holiday home of Simone, Interior Designer and founder of SOUL Home, husband and builder Ben Mathews of BAM Constructions and their 4 energetic boys.

“The PAUSE is a lifestyle business. It’s a holiday rental, as well as being our own holiday home… when it’s not booked out!” smiles Simone.

“We decided to enter the holiday property market, with the passion to share our skills and ultimately our property with the masses. 

Instead of creating homes that only our family could enjoy, making it a holiday property means it’s able to be shared and loved by many.

Outdoor kitchen with built in bbq and fridge
Living room seating area

Built to host a crowd, The PAUSE sleeps 12 people, has 6 bathrooms and too many luxe features to count.

“We designed the home to feel like a real getaway. The master suite is upstairs with 4 bedrooms and a hideaway kids bunk room on the ground level. Each bedroom has its own ensuite so guests don’t have to share bathrooms,” explains Simone.

“What I love most about this home is it has lots of calm spaces. The kitchen flowing to the outdoor area. The undercover outdoor entertaining area with fireplace and overlooking the pool. The use of organic materials helps everything feel tranquil. 

“Aesthetically, I love the upstairs ensuite — the grandness of it is something special. The stone bath, the oversized space… it’s luxury with a tropical Bali vibe.”

Bathroom with freestanding bath and brass wall sconce
Fireplace in living space

The home was designed, as its name suggests, to stop and pause from life’s usual hustle and bustle.

“I wanted to create a place to suspend ordinary life and enjoy a breather, as our lives just get busier around us. The PAUSE was born as a holiday property, designed with rejuvenation and connection in mind,” says Simone.

“Curated in a style to evoke a magical holiday feeling. The property was influenced from the luxurious properties of The Bahamas, Indonesia and classic Singaporean-style.

Quite simply, it was created to pause, and step away from the everyday. To stop, recharge and revitalise. 

“Sometimes we feel like we need a holiday at the end of the holiday. We designed this home to have all the creature comforts on hand, with a variety of natural attributes (beach, swimming pools and hinterland) surrounding the property, so that you genuinely feel rejuvenated once you leave.”

Concrete bench in kitchen
Curved doorway in bedroom
Teak feature on exterior of The PAUSE

Curved walls and a unique materials palette also make this home stand out from the crowd.

“We tried to keep the home as organic and classic as possible, combining natural woods against concrete. We have polished concrete floors, against the Cemintel white weatherboards — a classic look.

“Then there are the curves! I’ve always loved curved walls and arches! I feel like they’re classic, warm and very calming. At The PAUSE, we incorporated a curved wall in the living room. It’s a subtle curve that dials up the character and looks fantastic. Overall, it softens the feeling of the room to create an interior oasis,” says Simone.

“To create this curve, we used Gyprock Superchek plasterboard. It’s just one of the things I love about using plasterboard. It allows for so many options on how you can create a feature with your walls. You can transform any space just by the way you design and install your plasterboard.

“A signature feature of this property are the teak doors we used on each room and as the front door. We also incorporated teak wood for the window shutters for privacy. It’s a beautiful feature, giving a natural rawness to the property.

“I also adore the kitchen island. It’s concrete and was made by my talented husband. It just gives off a resort-feel.

“It’s not just a cooking space, it’s more of a space that you gather and connect with friends and family. We wanted it to feel like a shared kitchen space in a tropical holiday home.”

Seating area with leather chairs

Clearly knowing her way around a holiday home or two, we asked Simone her top tips for designing a holiday property.

1. Live up to expectations

“When you style a holiday house, your guests are expecting to arrive and see the same ‘wow’ images from your website and social media. It’s important to find ways to style your property consistently and with minimal fuss so you can turn it over quickly between guests.

“Create a styled but not a sterile space. You want your guests to feel like they can put their feet up and not be scared to break anything.

“When styling, don’t use pieces you can’t afford to replace or pieces that will devastate you if they get damaged. You want your guests to respect your property and items, but remember that accidents do happen,” says Simone thoughtfully.

2. The Boxing Day test

“Style is important, but it also needs to be practical. The Boxing Day test ensure that every person in your property has a place to sleep, sit and dine. So, if your property sleeps 8, you need 8 spaces in the lounge and 8 dining chairs.”

Curved entry to walk in wardobe
3. Storage

“Like in your own home, your holiday home needs dedicated storage for everyday items like wardrobes and storage robes. You can create open hanging spaces that can form part of your styling. Don’t waste space with excess storage that won’t be utilised.”

4. Use everyday items to add character

“In a holiday property, you can style your everyday items with open shelves, particularly in spaces like the kitchen. Place your stacks of plates, bowls and glasses on open shelves. Not only does this make it easy for guests to find and use, they also look great.”

Bedroom with blue features
5. Use quality linen

“Make your life easier by sticking to the same coloured linen and bedding in your holiday property. It will save you money as they can all be washed together, rather than having to separate them and wash in different loads.

“Mix things up by dressing beds with different covers and throws instead. And be sure to pick quality linens that allow for repeat laundering.”

You can also find more tips on how to style a holiday home here.

Open plan kitchen space

Photography — The Palm Co.
Builder — BAM Constructions

Big thanks to Simone for showing us around this beautiful family holiday home, The PAUSE. To learn more about holiday property styling or to book your very own holiday at one of the many gorgeous SOUL stays, take a look through their website or connect with them on Instagram.

More home tours here

Hallway with teak finishes
Reading nook in bedroom by window
Bathroom with skylight
Stackable doors to outdoor living space
Aged outdoor shower with curved wall

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