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Renovate a rental property

March 13, 2018




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.


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?


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