rental property

5 simple ways to renovate a rental property

If you live in one of Australia’s capital cities you’ve probably noticed that real estate has been a little out of control lately (Sydney, I’m looking at you!). Prices have gone through the roof and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to get onto that first rung of the property ladder unless you’ve got generous parents or win the lottery (if you’re looking in Sydney you’ll probably need both!). Which leaves you with staying at home (not my bag and not an option for a lot of people) or renting.


I’ll take renting thanks, but that doesn’t mean I need to live with a daggy avocado kitchen and boob lights – oh no! Here a few fab things you can do to perk up a rental and really make it feel like home – because it is.


Removeable wallpaper

Wallpaper has really had a revival lately and what’s really handy for renters is that there are now lots of removeable options. This means you can have a wall or two of glorious pattern and remove it when it’s time to leave. There may be a few patch ups here and there, but that’s easily done and well worth the effort.


Even more exciting is this waterproof removeable wallpaper I found – which can be used to cover a dated kitchen backsplash and bring a whole new style to your rental kitchen. Add some coordinating accessories and a rug and call it done!


Light fittings

Rental properties are not always known for their stellar light fittings – popcorn ceilings and boob lights pop up all too frequently. Fear not, you don’t have to keep living with unattractive, unflattering lighting! Apartment Therapy has some excellent ideas for ways to disguise a boob light and if you want an even bigger change, remove the fitting (carefully saving all the pieces so you can reinstall it later) and install a new one – an electrician is a good idea here. Bunnings and Beacon Lighting have a great selection of light fittings – either flush mounts or pendants at some excellent prices. This is a pretty quick fix that will make a huge difference. Before you begin, check with your landlord as they might pay for the new fitting and installation.


New blinds

Another relatively quick fix that can make a big impact. Daggy verticals are not a mood booster so pull them down (again, store carefully so they can be reinstalled if necessary) and get ready for more beautiful windows. Ask your landlord if they will pay – these are fixtures that can stay with the house once you’ve moved on so will be adding value – and give them some options if you like. Spotlight and Bunnings both have a large range of premade blinds that fit standard windows and Ikea is always good for curtain panels and rods. I recently installed some Ikea curtains in our spare rooms – it cost about $120 for each room and I’m kicking myself that I didn’t do it a year ago. If you need to take the curtains down when you go, you’ll need to fill the holes in the walls, but I think that’s worth it to be living in a home you like in the meantime.


“New” kitchen benches

If you’re living with a kitchen bench that’s seen better days – despair not! Grab a roll of contact paper and get to it – easier than covering school books! It’s not a permanent solution but it costs around $10 to contact paper your benches and if you look after it (don’t cut directly on it, natch) they should last a while. There are other ways to disguise a nasty benchtop but this is the cheapest, easiest solution I’ve seen and the make good is pretty darn simple too.


Rugs over carpets

Replacing an entire house apartment-full of carpet can be expensive so instead, consider large rugs that do the same job and that you can take with you when you leave. Rug prices vary but some of my favourite places to buy rugs are Overstock (especially large rugs as you can search by size and colour) and The Home (more a case of keeping an eye out for one you like and jumping on it). A rug also means you don’t have to worry as much if you have a spill as a) it’s yours and b) it’s easier to clean.


Bonus tip: Fresh flowers! Always with the fresh flowers. Smaggle has some great tips on where to buy fab flowers.


Have you brightened up a rental property? Care to share any hot tips? What do you think about introducing long leases (5-10 years) to the Australian rental market to improve housing security?

Teaming up with Essentially Jess for IBOT


  • Nicole @ The Builder's Wife

    Great tips as always Alix! I am a huge lover of fresh flowers in a home. xx

  • Brigette @ Honey and Bean

    We’ve been so lucky in our home to have possibly the most relaxed landlords ever, we are allowed to put holes in the walls and paint as long as it’s fixed before we leave. I hadn’t thought of contact on the benches though!


      I think it’s important for landlords to let tenants make their house feel like home – within reason. Sounds like you’ve got a goon one!

  • Michelle - Jarrah Jungle

    Hanging art with those stick on hooks were the only things I did to places I rented! I couldn’t wait to buy my own home so I could really put my stamp on it, paint it, and decorate however I liked 🙂


      Yep, one of the best things about owning a house is that feeling of “I can do whatever I want to this place – grab the paint!”

  • peregrinationgourmande

    Nice tips! As I’m renting my flat, I painted the kitchen that was red, in white! Better light! xx cathy


      Sounds like a good change – a red kitchen sounds potentially challenging! Thanks for visiting!

  • Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid

    These our excellent tips! We had boob lights, manky carpets and the dreaded vertical blinds in our old place – it didn’t seem like it at the time, but we were lucky that they didn’t renew our contract because it give us the kick up the bum we needed to get on the property ladder! That said, we were lamenting only the other day, that we actually saved money while renting because although the rent is the same as the mortgage, it’s the strata, council tax and water rates, not to mention maintenance that all consume cash as a homeowner. However, the feeling of security is priceless! I think long leases are a fantastic idea and would be invaluable for tenants.


      Hi Sammie. Yes, strata fees and all the rest really add up! But it’s definitely nice to know that you own something. I do hope that long leases get a run as I think everyone deserves residential security. Cheers. alix

  • Bec Senyard

    I had to click through to see what you meant about boob lights. Gosh there are some creative and clever ways to make a rental your own isn’t there? I’m so glad that I was able to save money living at home so my husband and I could afford our first home. Thanks once again for linking to #HIT. 🙂


      Yes, boob lights are not one of mankind’s most memorable design achievements! But nice to see that there are definitely ways to overcome them.

  • Karin @ Calm to Conniption

    Wow, that waterproof removable wallpaper is interesting. My, how far things have come.


      I know – doesn’t it look fabulous! I want to see what I can wallpaper at my house – better tell me husband not to stand still for too long.

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