The Fun and Frustrations of Renting

Having recently moved from Perth to Brisbane, we are currently renting a small townhouse as we settle into Queensland life. Renting does not really suit my nature, as I am\n constantly thinking about what I would modify, update and re-do to improve my living space. Otherwise known as the architects curse I think. I read an article last week about styling a rental, with some good, and some questionable, advice. So if anyone else is stuck in the same situation as we are, I thought I’d write my own 4 pointers.

Keep your own colour and style, even if it doesn’t suit.

1. Show your personality in your own items, like big furniture. If you like colour, embrace colour, if you like neutrals go with that. Don’t choose a colour scheme based on your rental, because it’s (often) temporary. And also, because sometimes the base you’re working with might just be too difficult. In this place, we have one bedroom that has one green wall, three grey walls, green window trims and purple curtains. The next bedroom has one (different) green wall, and between this is a hallway with (different again) green wallpaper, which leads out to a garage that is painted metallic effect gold. Our bedroom has one beige and white embossed patterned wallpaper wall and the ensuite is bright yellow. I wouldn’t want to try and match anything into all that! I’m so glad I have my bright coloured couches and rugs, turquoise everywhere, and timber and metal furniture. Sure it doesn’t ‘go’ with the house at all, but all ‘my stuff’ goes with each other. And that makes me happy.

Learning: although open shelves look nice they collect SO.MUCH.DUST……

2. Fill the place with visual memories that make you happy (including plants, obvs). This place has some strange wall hooks, in strange locations. But I’m using them all to hang photos of previous adventures and special places. They might not be in line with each other or in ideal locations but they are touchstone points of my past, and bring joy to look at. Similarly I’ve filled my bookcase with photos of family, reminders of my holidays, books and magazines that mean something to me, and bits and pieces I’ve collected along the way. This helps the feeling that although this is not ‘my place’ I can still be surrounded by the things I enjoy.

Fill all the wall hooks with happy memories, even the hooks that are strangely located..

3. Use different places to trial how you want to live, and what works. Trying out the way we live in our rental is a good experiment for how our space affects our lifestyle. In this house the garden is accessed through the spare bedroom, so although it’s a nice spot, I have no reason to go down there. I know now that I value a better connection from the living spaces of a house to the garden. I also realise that having two storeys can be a great workout! In my ‘real’ house I plan to eventually re-do the kitchen, so that I have one large living, dining, kitchen space, rather than the separate rooms I have now. Being able to explore this way of living has been interesting, to see the benefits and what you’d make it better (like a quieter dishwasher and a better insulated oven!). It’s also helped with my kitchen design, to know that I do not want the sink and stove on opposite benches, as I am constantly dripping water across the floor. I also realise that although the mirror-backed open shelving in the kitchen looks great, it gets so crazy dusty, that I won’t be doing that again. I’m glad someone else made these designs so we can practice, without the expense of construction!

Embrace the colours!

4. Explore where you live. Where I am renting has ill-fitted peeling wallpaper, water damaged rippling vinyl floors, and no space for a dining table. So we don’t often have people over. But this gives us the opportunity to explore this incredible city we’ve relocated to. We can walk ten minutes down the road to the ferry and be in the city or at South Bank within half an hour, and across to North Shore in about fifteen minutes. We can walk less than ten minutes to shops, cafes and pubs. So we go exploring a lot, and it’s such a good chance to do that. We will never be able to afford to buy in this area, but renting here gives us all the benefits of an amazing location, without the expense and maintenance. For this we are really grateful, and we are enjoying the experience of finding new places and learning new things.

So a bougainvillea in our garden fell down and we’re not allowed to touch it – let’s see if it takes over the whole garden!

So, although I look around the little place we’re renting and think about all the things I would do if it was mine, I appreciate the benefits renting has given us, and am trying to make this as much of a home as it can be. Hope you enjoy your place too.

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