Everyone loves the aesthetic of a spacious home, but space is often at a premium in rental properties and a larger rental property may be a luxury that is out of reach.
Small spaces can be difficult enough to make work for your lifestyle if you have total control over the decor, but if you are renting or the owner of a leasehold property where the freeholder must agree to any structural changes, it can be even harder to make your space work for you.
Period properties especially may have design features such as chimneys, low sloped ceilings or fireplaces that jut out into rooms, minimising the available space. They may also have very limited bathroom space, as they were built at a time when an indoor bathroom was not common.
Fortunately, there are many ways in which you can maximise space in your rental property without upsizing.
Design tips for maximising space in rental properties: the bedroom
In order to maximise space in a small rental property, you need to cut down on pieces of furniture that take up large amounts of floor space. Unless you sleep in a single, it’s likely that your bed takes up the most space in your bedroom.
There are ways to reduce the space your bed takes in your bedroom. If you are renting a studio apartment with limited floor space but a high ceiling, consider placing your bed on a raised mezzanine level above the rest of your living space. The idea of a permanently installed mezzanine level has caught on with plenty of landlords as a way of maximising the space in a small flat.
However, if your property doesn’t have a built in level, you can buy a freestanding loft bed to put your mattress on without structurally altering the property. There are also companies that make DIY mezzanine platform kits, which – while a considerably more expensive option – do not require permission from a landlord to install.
If your ceiling is 14ft high or more, you can incorporate living space beneath the mezzanine. If you have a lower ceiling, elevating your bed is still an excellent way to create storage space beneath it. Buy a raised platform with plenty of drawers beneath it.
You have a number of different methods that you can employ in order to create more storage space while retaining your existing bed frame. If the frame does not have legs, simply place it on top of metal or wooden storage cubes sturdy enough to bear the weight.
If your bed is on a standard four-legged frame, you can buy bed risers that attach to the legs, increasing the height of the bed by as much as 2ft. These can also be used to increase the height of loft beds, provided that you can find a ladder tall enough to accommodate for the increase in height.
On the other hand, if you live in a top floor flat which incorporates a small maisonette, you may be encountering the opposite problem – restricted ceiling height. In this case, maximise room with a space saving loft bed, which sit very low to the ground. Not only will this improve the aesthetic of the space, it will also make you feel less restricted when you’re in bed.
You can also use freestanding room dividers to break up a space in a studio. Separating your bed from the rest of your space gives the illusion of a ‘bedroom’ and gives you a sense of privacy.
Design tips for maximising space in rental properties: storage
Rental properties often have more vertical than horizontal space. This is particularly common in period houses and flats, which often boast high ceilings but have quirky design features that limit floorspace.
In these situations, opt for pieces of furniture that are correspondingly tall and narrow. Tall thin bookcases, ladder desks and other vertical storage solutions are ideal for this purpose. Look for freestanding options to eliminate the need for any drilling.
If your rental property has recesses or nooks, see if it is possible to turn them into shelving areas. Installing good quality shelves in a recess can enhance a property. Landlords will allow this, providing there is no damage to the property.
If you have free space for storage in front of a window, a good tip is to opt for a shelving unit with no sides to provide extra storage space without blocking too much light. This is an especially good way of maximising storage in your kitchen.
Also consider which of your possessions you need to hand and which can be stored away. Packing away items that are used less often and keeping everyday things in accessible places can really cut down on the amount of wasted space in rental properties.
Likewise, clothes take up a lot of space when they’re hanging up. Even the most minimalist wardrobe can be reduced by half, as there is no point keeping linen shirts and summer sandals readily accessible in your wardrobe in the middle of winter. Pack them away in a storage box with lavender and cedar to protect them from moths.
Design tips for maximising space in rental properties: decorations
One of the best ways to create the illusion of a larger living space is to keep your colour scheme relatively light and neutral, from your furniture to the walls themselves. However, it’s rare that a landlord will allow tenants to change the walls or floors in a rental property.
This can be especially frustrating if the existing wallpaper, paint, carpet or floorboards in your property are the worse for wear. A good way to get around this is by covering any existing walls with colourful hangings. This way you can change your colour scheme and personalise the room.
If the terms of your tenancy restrict you from damaging the walls in any way, you can use self-adhesive Velcro tape in order to put up hangings without nailing anything to the wall. You can also use self-adhesive Velcro to put up posters and even pictures, provided that their frames are not too heavy.
It’s quick and easy to decorate the floor of your rental property with rugs, creating a focal point to each room and adding warmth and texture to your surroundings. If you’d like to cover your entire floor space, measure your floor and buy a sheet of carpet, lino or even artificial grass to create a truly unique living space without changing anything permanently.
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