Tips to make your rented home more personal

By House and Home in Makeover on Tuesday, July 20, 2010 - 19:28

So you’re passionate about interiors and care about your home, but for the time being you have to stick to renting? Serial renter Alexia McInerney shows that there are plenty of tricks to turn your rented property into a cherished home

(Photographs: Tiberiu Coroliuc)


I picked up this retro 50s sideboard for a steal for €45 from Oxfam Home on Dublin’s Francis Street. I loved the unique brass feet, asymmetrical shape and the elegant solid wood legs of this piece and knew it would fit perfectly into my hallway, a space that is usually neglected in rentals. I have photos and treasured keepsakes here as well as bottle of perfume for a quick spritz before I leave!

Photo frame, faux flowers, wicker basket and vase from Stock; ceramic drawers, recycled shopper and origami bird, from Oxfam Fair Trade; candle from Kilkenny shop.

Living room:

I picked these pillar candles up at a local hardware shop for less than €5 each. The sheepskin rug was an Ikea find, but butchers around the country have them for around €50 in various colours – an affordable treat!

Large hurricane lamp from Stock, kept company by Stampy the dog

I always have photos of friends and family all around, no surface goes untouched, and in this case the photos are accompanied by one of the landlord’s own pieces.

Dining room:

There was so much tableware in the house when we moved in, I decided to make a feature of some of my favourite plates that I had picked up on sale in Urban Outfitters. The dining table got a length of linen in a vibrant colour, to protect it as well as liven up the room. Real flowers take pride of place on the shelf .

Cheese platter and milk jug both Kilkenny shop; antique crotchet from Charlotte MacDonald

Tips for renters:

Make use of what’s already there

There will always be characteristics of the interior that you might have to compromise on, be it ugly furniture and light fittings, bizarre art or badly stencilled built-in units. In saying that, you will have picked your accommodation for a reason so there will be features you are a fan of, - the trick is to highlight these and work on the rest.

Paint, paint, paint

Paint is a renter-on-a-budget’s best friend. With painting, labour is generally the most costly factor, so, after discussing it with your landlord first, set aside one weekend and get painting in your favourite shades.

Invest in the best

Use your time while renting to invest in favourite pieces of furniture. Not only will you have a selection of items to call your own when you eventually settle down, the furniture, in the meantime, will help you personalise somebody else’s property. Check out and for free furniture that needs a spruce up, your local charity shop for unwanted pieces and TK Maxx, Kildare Village and Ikea for discounted and wallet friendly items.

Keep it personal

Dig out old photos of family and friends, frame loved posters and prints and display favourite keepsakes to create a more personal feel. Even in my student years I knew the power that fresh flowers had, instantly transforming a tired space into something more attractive. Candles are also an affordable way to completely transform a cold, sterile room into a relaxing room full of warmth.

Share your knowledge:

Have you had experience living in a rented home? If so, what are the best ways to make it into a personal space? Tell us in the comments below.