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Any tips to make a house look less 'rented' on a budget?

(21 Posts)
kindlekid Mon 25-Jul-11 16:38:53

We have been living here for 2 years and after visiting a few friends I have suddenly realised how nondescript and bland our house looks.

It's all pale (magnolia?) walls and pale laminate and sofas past their best. The living area is open plan and no seperate living room.

I've recently bought a good quality oilcloth table cloth for the kitchen/dining table which has improved it a little. I got some curtains that I like for the bedrooms and some voile ones for the hall.

It looks like it needs more though. Has anyone any good tips on how to make it more homely on a miniscule small budget.


iambach Mon 25-Jul-11 17:28:25

How about some nice blankets/throws for your sofas?

My couches are looking a bit worse for wear with the kids/dogs and we have some nice throws/blankets that cover them. Also they are handy for chilly nights in front of the tv, plus they can be chucked in the machine which keeps the couches fresh and clean.

Also some nice prints/canvas on the walls.

TK max always have nice stuff in often reduced.

I also find great things at car boot sales.

Iin my childrens room the walls need repainting but we are about to move them to another room when we extend so in the meantime to save on paint i have covered one particularly rough looking wall with lovely fabric. I think it looks lovely and people have said how nice it is. ALso comes down and can go in machine!

Fimbo Mon 25-Jul-11 17:37:32

Ikea is your friend. Cheap throws and rugs will make all the difference.

DoubleDegreeStudent Tue 26-Jul-11 01:11:44

Have you got much surface space? I lived in a tiny studio flat last year and I had a colourful oilcloth on my table which did really help, and a nice blanket on the sofa but my best things were 4 bright photo frames which I rotated around different surfaces.

Be careful if you buy anything to fix to the walls if you haven't checked in your contract, as I think standard procedure is anything attached to the property becomes your landlord's.

What did you particularly like about your friends' houses? Was it things, or just a general feel? If it was items, think about what you noticed first. If it was a general feel then it's going to be harder to recreate.

A couple of cheap, brightly coloured mugs also helps loads if you just have plain crockery.

mathanxiety Tue 26-Jul-11 04:39:12

Plants? Nice big ones..

Candles are a bit of a cliche but they are nice when lit. Lamps are warmer than overhead fixtures.

Colour is your best friend.

DirtyMartini Tue 26-Jul-11 06:00:00

I am barely awake and I honestly read that as 'Pants? Nice big ones' which struck me as curious advice.

Agree it's stuff like textiles, pictures, plants and flowers - these things add texture and interest and character.

kindlekid Tue 26-Jul-11 09:46:00

Thanks for the suggestions.

I think what I noticed about the other houses is that they had a warm, cosy feel. Colour and texture definitely.

We moved from a really badly decorated house that had garish carpet and horrible wallpaper so when we moved in here I liked the lightness of it IYKWIM but now I am getting fed up with it.

If I could afford it I could get some nice rugs, a couple of lamps and plants.

The landlord told us last year we could order some curtains but I couldn't find any good ones within the price range they were willing to pay. I'm going to speak to him about that again.

Also does anyone know if the landlord is required to paint the house if needed?

He had a fireplace taken out in the living room a couple of months ago but hasn't made any arrangements about sorting out the wall where it was removed and it looks awful and the whole room is in need of freshening up.

BertieBotts Tue 26-Jul-11 09:53:53

You could ask if he'd mind you painting it yourself - some don't. You could choose a neutral shade, but not the same magnolia. I expect they have just bought a job lot as it's cheaper, and done every house they own in the same. It would cost them too much to put different colours in each house, really.

My (rented) walls look awful as they are several coats of magnolia paint over ancient textured wallpaper. The paint has made the wallpaper all stiff and every join shows. Where DS has got food/dirty finger marks/pen blush on the walls, I've tried to scrub it off and it's just taken the paint off and started to dissolve the wallpaper hmm

Pictures on the walls have definitely made it look more homely. They can be really cheap. Ikea is good, and also look around any home stores in your local town, I found a really nice print of a wood with light coming down through the trees for about £10. Wilkinsons have some prints as well, even our local budget store not-quite-a-pound-shop has some which are passable. And then I just bought some really cheap frames from asda and printed off some photos of DS to put on the other wall.

Also having your things on display - books for example - really make a difference. We put a couple of shelves up and with books on they make the room look much nicer.

The walls still look horrible but it's less noticeable when there are other things to focus on.

BertieBotts Tue 26-Jul-11 09:56:52

Could you put a bookcase where the fireplace was? Or another kind of display cabinet, or TV or something? Look in second hand furniture shops, keep crawling them, you'll find some nice things. Also browse ebay furniture section, and set it to order by "Closest to <postcode>"

Why don't you buy your own curtains? You could take them with you when you move then. Just make sure you keep the landlord's in a safe place so that you can replace them before you move out.

KellyKettle Tue 26-Jul-11 10:26:20

Ebay can be good for curtains. Our living room window is a wide bay and all the curtains I found to fit were £100s but I found a nice pair for a fraction of the price on Ebay last week.

Do you have photographs in frames? Decorative things like that look nice.

We have a vase of pretend flowers in our living room which look quite convincing but you do have to be careful as some look awful. This site is lovely:

We also have a hurricane lamp with a large coloured candle in which looks lovely when lit. I also agree with the post above that said table lamps are cosier than overhead lights.

You could try Next while their sale is on for bits to decorate the rooms but that you can take with you.

kindlekid Tue 26-Jul-11 10:31:24

There are 3 huge windows in the living area/kitchen. Not sure it would be worth the expense to us as there is no way we will buy a similar house with such a huge open plan are so we wouldn't get the value from buying them ourselves. It would cost a fortune to get really nice curtains for them.

There are just blinds there at the moment - no curtains. The landlord owes us curtains grin as they were supposed to have them up when we moved in but never got around to it. I am holding to the promise of curtains as it was part of the agreement when we took the house.

I have some lovely photos of the dcs. I am going to get frames for them. I like the sort that are just glass with no border around them.

There are a few hooks on the walls so won't have to put any up ourselves.

DD2 was a baby when we moved in. I think I was in a fog with a new baby and toddler so I didn't focus on the decor. Now that they are more independent I want to make our home nice.

happywheezer Tue 26-Jul-11 10:33:56

pictures with frames from Ikea, of your family. It made the difference to our house.

Fimbo Tue 26-Jul-11 11:52:20

I have these in our tv room. They are great for massive windows. I have just tied a big knot in the middle to shorten the length and to save plastering around trying to wundaweb them. DD has the cerise for her bedroom and they do look fab up. The purpley ones are much darker than the photo and do look good.

mathanxiety Tue 26-Jul-11 18:02:34

Quick and very easy blinds/shades:

You can use school glue for an anti fray product.
You can use a tension rod instead of the wood/drill/screws. The tension rod would be used to mount the shades inside the window frame.
You could use cup hooks and dowel rod instead of the wood mount for an outside mount, if the windows have a wood frame. If you're dealing with plaster, then the inside mount is a better idea.
You might like to use something that will help you be sure of the right angle when it comes to cutting.
Leave a larger hole for the dowel or tension rod than shown.

I made shades like the green ones with the ribbons, and I didn't bother with the fusing tape (hemmed them by hand) or the heavier weight fabric either. (I am a terrible klutz with an iron). I used ordinary cheap cotton and ironed the seams when I was all finished.

Ikea is truly fab too.

wfrances Tue 26-Jul-11 19:52:49

large foliage plants.

DillyTante Tue 26-Jul-11 19:57:30

Good thread, I have exactly the same problem. Our rented house is a soulless box. We got a tablecloth like you did. We got a new rug from Ikea and I am crocheting a cushion cover. Are you crafty at all? You could even turn old jumpers into cushion covers. Charity shops often have crocheted afghans that you could chuck over the sofa. I've also picked up a few random pictures from charity shops.

I'm starting to really loathe magnolia though!

Lighting makes all the difference, lamps and uplighters will be much warmer than overhead lighting. What about even simple things like new mug coasters, you could make your own.

Take photos of your DC's artwork and frame them.

Will keep an eye on this thread for more tips though.

TrickyBiscuits Wed 27-Jul-11 17:36:12

A second of third vote for a big plant or two. Keep your eye out in Ikea or B&Q for big discounts on them- they come up as sale stock quite quickly and really aren't worth the full price tag.

I'd say a very important thing when on a budget is to pick a bright colour palette and work the suggestions above around that. I'm not talking about exact matchy matchy stuff, but an overall theme of a couple of complimentary colours can help give a room a bit of 'togetherness'. If you're wanting a very cosy look then reds and purples are great.

allhailtheaubergine Wed 27-Jul-11 17:45:55

Definitely plants. Make all the difference to a home.

HansieMom Fri 29-Jul-11 23:59:22

Great ideas! I suggest get COLOR in there. Don't be afraid of thrift stores and boot sales. Here in the states we have garage sales. As I look around my house, many things came second hand. Lamps, good sized wall mirrors w cool frames, Mission style recliner, round coffee table w slate top and wrought iron base, oak rocker, art deco dining table ($50 at goodwill), many framed pics for walls, including needlepoint, a seriously cool bedroom set, also art deco. My DIL has bought probably a dozen individual pieces of wood furniture, floor lamps, french provincial bedroom furniture for her little girl, accent pieces like plant stands. Her house is beautiful. Lots of art on walls, mostly from ebay.

LawrieMarlow Sat 30-Jul-11 00:17:10

<takes notes>

WhereonearthamI Mon 01-Aug-11 13:15:51

I'd go for those Ikea curtains, but get them in two colours (eg 2 black, 1 purple) and have the odd colour in the middle. This would not only add a bit of wow factor, but you'd then have a matching pair for a larger room and a single for a smaller room in your next house.

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