More of us are renting. That won’t come as a surprise given the struggle first-time buyers have when scrambling on to the property ladder.

What’s more, those in their 40s are now almost twice as likely to be renting from a private landlord than they were ten years ago. 

But it’s also an option for empty nesters as they consider their next move.

So how can you make a rented home feel your own without entering into major negotiations with the landlord?

Solution: A rented flat transformed with furniture from Swoon

Solution: A rented flat transformed with furniture from Swoon

Flexible furniture

There is a host of new furniture ranges aimed at renters.

‘In the past, various constraints around decorating permissions dampened an occupant’s inclination to furnish with interesting design pieces,’ says Kate Butler, head of design at Habitat. 

‘But we’ve been challenging that in our studio, creating modern products for a rental market that expects quality and unique appeal, while requiring manoeuvrability and durability.’ 

Enter a new generation of tactile pieces to counter white walls – think statement materials such as rattans and metals, combined with movable items such as Habitat’s Jessie leaning shelving, from £95, which can be propped against a wall, and Rattan bedframe, from £550.

Companies which deliver furniture in boxes are springing up nationwide. Simba’s ultra-comfortable mattresses (from £475) arrive tightly rolled up in a cardboard box.

Meanwhile three-seater sofas from start-up company Snug Shack (from £899) are delivered in four parts, meaning it can be squeezed in and out in the trickiest of spaces. 

The company claims the sofas, which are available in four colours and come with a 100-day trial, can be put together in just three minutes.

Wonder walls

For an injection of personality, opt for a peelable wall mural. Milton & King offers a wide choice – its Korra Wallpaper, £117.60 for two panels, is ideal for creating a statement wall. 

Art will add character, and if you can’t hang pieces, get creative. 

Try Japanese Washi tape to secure favourite images to the wall instead, using it in lieu of a traditional frame, in four neat strips, surrounding your print.

Layered lighting

Lighting is crucial – layer table lamps with task lighting. ‘Easy-fit’ shades don’t require an electrician for installation. 

Try Oliver Bonas’s Ero Velvet and Tassel Blue Drum Pendant Lampshade, £55, for a colourful, retro hit.

Plug-in wall lights provide panache without requiring wiring — Made’s Frey, £18, in teal (made.com) will add contemporary appeal.

‘Investing in smal, but spectacular lamps with fun shades will spice up your space,’ says interior designer Joanna Wood. ‘Oka’s Ikat lampshades from £130 are on my radar.’

Turquoise Bambi knob, £6, from Anthropologie

Turquoise Bambi knob, £6, from Anthropologie

Statement textiles

‘Large rugs are probably my favourite way of creating maximum impact, especially when you are unable to change the wall colour,’ says interior designer Tiffany Duggan. 

‘A huge Berber rug or antique Persian will instantly add interest, which you can build on with cushions and throws.

‘Another great idea is to buy a floor-standing antique mirror, which will also help to make the space feel bigger. 

‘Plants bring a room to life – I love to place them in front of mirrors to blur the edges of a room. Parlour Palms are my favourite.’

Fabrics are a great way to personalise your space, too. 

Reupholstering a dining chair in a favourite print is an easy and cost-effective way to introduce drama.

‘Punchy velvets update neutral interiors brilliantly,’ says Sofa Workshop’s Megan Holloway. 

‘They make your home feel more personal in lieu of being able to paint.’

Portable pieces

Try switching up handleware on kitchen and bathroom cabinetry – Haute Deco and Anthropologie both offer excellent ranges. 

Try the turquoise Bambi knob, £6, from Anthropologie.

Portable island units, breakfast bars, dressers and larder units are all great ways to add style.

‘Pieces that are not connected to utilities – electrics and drains – are obviously more portable and can bring plain white cabinets to life,’ says Clayton Cabinets’ Nick Clayton. ‘Investing in this kind of furniture can boost available storage, too.’

Furniture that is both striking and easy to move will ramp up the style factor, creating a one-off space wherever you choose to lay your hat.

What your home really needs… a drinks trolley 

By Anne Ashworth

The drinks trolley was a 1950s ideal home essential, used to transport whisky and wines between the kitchen and the dining room – at that era, a separate space.

But the open-plan kitchen-dining room put the drinks trolley (and the food-warming hostess trolley) out of a job.

At £449, the John Lewis Raine combines practicality and good looks

At £449, the John Lewis Raine combines practicality and good looks

Today, however, the drinks trolley is back, because, suddenly, we want to be more formal again. 

The post-war austerity associations are gone, replaced by a 1930s New York vibe, which is why the drinks trolley is often called by its American name, ‘bar cart’.

Whether you prefer drinks trolley or bar cart, you need one to serve drinks with elegance and ease; or as a focus point to enliven a room: simply arrange books, a lamp and plant on its shelves.

You can buy one for as little as £42.90 from Argos, or splash out £1,788 for the Ava model at The Sofa & Chair Company.

At £449, the John Lewis Raine combines practicality and good looks. Now, where’s that recipe for negroni?

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