How To Add Personality To A Rental {With Hayley Stuart}

Author: Lauren Coleman

Super creative Hayley Stuart has set Instagram alight with her crafty ideas, transforming a soulless rental property in to a family home laden with personality. Over to Hayley for her top tips on making it home when it isn’t your own.

My husband and I have been renting for the past ten years in various houses, with various rules regarding what we are allowed to do in terms of decorating.

Some landlords and super strict and don’t allow even a simple photo on the wall whereas some are a lot more flexible, normally if you have a long term contract in place. Luckily our current landlords are really laid back and when I asked what we were allowed to do they simply said “it’s your home” so I took that as anything goes apart from structural changes. We are fortunate as the house has some lovely features such as fireplaces and 1930s cottage doors but I knew we wouldn’t be here forever so decided to find ways to decorate in my style but only in ways that are reversible.

The kitchen was bland but not offensive, so I made some new tan leather drawer and cupboard pulls. To make the handles I bought a couple of strips of leather from eBay, cut them in to six inch strips, folded in half and then drilled a hole through the leather for the bolt to slide through. I also bought some tile stickers from eBay which I must say look very convincing. My dad laid a new herringbone vinyl floor (again very realistic) which obviously isn’t removable but in my opinion improves the kitchen a lot.

Our utility room was horrible when we moved in. It was a bland haven for spiders with a freezing cold concrete floor and I hated going out there. One day I decided to stop ignoring it and make it in to a space I could enjoy. I used Pixerstick from Pixers to cover the worktops and cupboard doors and found an off cut of carpet from a local selling site. It was drastic results on a minimal budget and I have to say I think it’s now my favourite room.

I have also used Pixerstick self adhesive wallpaper in my sons room, which was ridiculously easy to apply and is completely removeable.

I have used Farrow and Ball Down Pipe to create feature walls in the dining room and kitchen which can be painted over when we depart.

Most of our shelving is scaffolding boards which of course have to be drilled in to the wall. The holes are pretty easy to fill when you leave a property but if you really don’t want to drill then book cases and shelving units are definitely the way to go. If you live in a period property and have a picture rail running around the top of the wall, you can hang a shelf from it using rope and picture rail hooks, like the one above our bed.

For artwork and mirrors (that aren’t too heavy) I always use command picture hanging strips. Used correctly they work so well and allow you to have a gallery wall without any damage.

You don’t have to spend a lot to spruce up your rental because if you invest in the things you can take with you but enjoy now then it’s a win, win!

I hope I have inspired you to make some temporary changes.

Liking what you see? Next week we’ve got Hayley’s cottage in its full glory in our latest home tour. Excited? Yep we are too. See you on Monday.


Photography by Adam Crohill

Lauren likes Paris, Prosecco and Paint Charts
Follow Lauren on instagram @mrslaurencoleman
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9 thoughts on “How To Add Personality To A Rental {With Hayley Stuart}

  1. OMG yes! Am so excited to see the rest of Hayley’s house! As a renter I’m always looking for ideas to personalise our space. In our new place we moved into in January I have still so much to do. We took the house because it was in a great location for us and at the right price as we are still trying to save for our first home. However the kitchen is awful (not something some nice drawer pulls could ever redeem (though that removable surfacing in the utility has got me thinking – also very jealous you actually have a utility Hayley!), and we rent furnished as well – the new furniture is totally not my style! Fortunately there is a single garage which has terrible access for a car so we can store some of the more hideous bits of furniture in there and replace other bits with our own. The property was left in quite a poor state by the previous tenants – the amount of cleaning I had to do was immense. We replaced all the light fittings which made the rooms horribly dark, which then showed up what bad condition the walls were in! After trying to clean them without too much success I asked if we could paint (as in we will buy the paint and paint it ourselves) and was told no! Apparently at the next inspection we can ‘see if things have improved’. what lol? I’m not sure the walls are going to improve on their own! Anyway we rent through an agency so I think its them trying to cover their tail as since we have moved in the landlord has already had to pay for a new boiler, fix the washing machine and to have four windows in the house fixed that didn’t open. I think a request to paint would perhaps make it seem like the agency are not ensuring tenants are taking very good care of the house (which blatantly they aren’t!!). Sorry for the rant but it makes me angry!

    1. Thank you for your comment. Have yo got the contact details for your landlord rather than the agency? As agencies tend to go by the book. Maybe if you try and contact the landlord directly and just stress that you would like to paint to improve the living conditions and that you are willing to pay for it yourself then they might reconsider. Sounds like the landlord is reluctant to spend anymore money on the property. Good luck x

      1. No, we haven’t but that’s a good idea maybe it’s something we could try and do, if we can get it out of the agency that is! Our last place was a private landlord, so much easier to deal with!

  2. Love this! What a lovely home. I’m not renting but we don’t have the budget or expertise to make any major changes to our house at the moment so I may look into some of these amazing tips for some updates in the meantime. It’s great to see some budget/easy updates.

    1. Thank you for your comment. You are definitely in the same boat as others, where you have bought a house but doing it up will be a gradual process. Some of these temporary upgrades are great for people in your position too. Good luck with your renevating x

  3. Love this! We own our house but my husband is very averse to putting holes in the walls, so I’m going to check out the command picture hanging strips in an attempt to create the gallery wall of dreams. 🙂

    Also, Hayley – can you please share where your ‘You Wanna Pizza Me’ art is from? I NEED it! x

    1. Thank you Tracy. The command hanging strips are amazing, you can buy them from Homebase or online. The neon sign is from a company called ‘light up north’ hope that helps? X

  4. I love this! We’ve been renting for the last 8 years – same landlord for the whole time but in two different flats. He’s quite flexible on what we can do – although I don’t think he’d let us go so far as to change carpets/flooring! We have got pictures up and we’ve put shelves up too. The bathroom, for example, had no storage whatsoever, so we bought a shelving unit from Ikea that fits over the toilet (not the most convenient place but the only place we could put something substantial). We also put up a shelf in the living room and another in the kitchen that we’d leave when we move out.

    We haven’t painted this flat but we did the other – living room and bedroom. The only request was that it was a colour that can be easily painted over when we moved out so we went for yellow and a pale grey respectively.

    Freedom to decorate as you please is great but our landlord has been far more flexible in other ways too (like letting us keep cats) and in how quickly he gets things fixed/replaced (boiler, washing machine and the radiator that fell off the wall…!) I definitely thank my lucky stars when I hear of renting horror stories!

  5. SO glad to see a rental article! Command strips are definitely my favourite thing. We’re just about to move into my sixth rental and I’m swearing this is the last. I just want to paint (and replace horrendous kitchens). Where are these nice lenient landlords who let you do anything?! Ours have all been of the ‘nothing on the walls’ variety.
    Our new home has fully tiled bathrooms – obviously if it was ours I’d drill some holes for a mirror, storage cupboards, toilet roll holder, etc. Any suggestions for nice removable, non-drilling bathroom furnishings?

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