Space Saving Tips in Rental Properties
One thing that remains familiar with moving house as a student or new graduate – as it has done since the dawn of time – is that digs are often short on space. This is because you get what you pay for – we’re usually renting at the more economical end of the rental market in urban areas. The landlords of rental properties also might be trying to create as many bedrooms in the property as possible so that people can share the bills with a group of housemates. This inevitably leads to someone drawing the short straw and ending up with the box room for their bedroom.
When you own your own home, you have complete control over the decor, but when you are renting, the landlord must agree to various decor changes, so you will have to think imaginatively.
If the property you are renting is a period property, features like fireplaces and chimneys that jut out into the room and sloping ceilings in a bedroom can limit the useable space. The bathroom might also be smaller than average as it may have been added at a later date as the toilet / washroom would have once been separate from the house in the back garden.
Luckily, there are a number of things that you can do to save space in your rental property.
Space saving tips for the bedroom
If you’ve drawn the short straw…
If you have drawn the short straw and your bedroom is small, it is likely that your bed takes up a lot of the floor space.
There are a things you can change so that your bed takes up less space. One way of doing this if the ceiling is high is to put the bed on a raised mezzanine level over the living area to create another bedroom area. This idea is really catching on with landlords as they will also see it as a way of maximising space.
If your landlord doesn’t want to make any big changes, you can buy a freestanding loft bed that will allow you to put your desk or chest of drawers, storage or a seating area underneath it. There are also DIY mezzanine kits available if you have some spare time to put it up during the holidays.
Alternatively, you can also make the most of the storage space under your bed by adding drawers on wheels underneath the bed frame to store your clothes instead of a chest of drawers. If the bed doesn’t have a frame with legs you can put storage cubes underneath, but bear in mind that they have to be able to take the weight of the bed. You can also buy bed risers to attach to a four-legged frame to elevate the bed up to 2ft.
If you renting a studio apartment you can use room dividers to separate your bed from the living space and give the illusion of a bedroom.
Space saving tips to maximise your storage
Student or recent graduate rental properties usually have more vertical than horizontal space as they are often townhouses or small flats.
You can buy furniture which is tall and narrow to make the most of the vertical space such as tallboys, ladder desks and tall, thin bookcases. These are all freestanding options so there will be no need to drill into the walls, which the landlord would appreciate.
Also look out for ant nooks or recesses in the walls of the property and add shelves with the landlord’s permission. You can buy planks of wood and shelving brackets really cheaply.
If you have free space in front of a window, you can place a shelving unit without sides in front of the window without blocking out much light. This can be especially useful in a kitchen.
If you have loft space in your rental property you can utilise it by rotating items and putting clothing which is not used every day in the loft while keeping the limited storage within the rooms for everyday items. Pack away any clothes that are out of season in a storage box with cedar and lavender to protect them from moths. Alternatively flat pack big winter coats, winter duvets and towels with vacuum bag storage and slide them under a bed or on top of a wardrobe.
Using decorations to create an illusion of more space
A surefire way of creating the illusion of more space in a property is to paint all the walls white and choose furniture in neutral colours.
Ask the landlord before re-decorating, they may not allow you to. If you aren’t allowed to redecorate, use wall hangings and framed posters where the majority of their design is white. You can use self-adhesive velcro to put up posters and lightly framed pictures if your tenancy agreement prevents you from changing the property walls in any way (including putting up pictures with a hammer and nails).
If the floors in your property are dark in colour you can often find light coloured carpet off-cuts on sites such as Freecycle or look out for some neutral coloured rugs in local charity shops.
The key to space saving in rental properties is to create an attractive living space that uses every inch of space efficiently, without changing anything permanently.
Justin is a graduate from the University of Kent turned digital marketer writing in tandem with Redbrick Property Management, a property management agency based in Hertfordshire