Redesign your rental: own the place you don’t own

UDESIGN - Interior Design Service, all online

Furnished rentals – the devil in disguise

So you’re renting a property in London, which, thankfully, came fully furnished. It saved you time, effort and money. But you’ve quickly realised that making your place really feel like home when your furniture wasn’t hand-picked by you can be tricky. Often, all those hours, tears, and money you saved by choosing a furnished rental are lost to efforts to make your new home feel like… home.

White walls but no white canvas: where to start?

Renting an unfurnished apartment is like having a fresh white canvas to work with. But when that white canvas already has someone else’s name all over it, it’s hard to be creative and to feel inspired. And speaking of white canvases: painting the walls in rentals is often ruled out, too. So comes the challenge: revamping white walls and pre-owned furniture on a budget.

Meet Claire

It’s a challenge that Claire, a Content Marketer from London, had almost given up on. As a young professional, Claire has neither the time nor the budget to redesign her home from scratch. She found herself in an apartment that she adores, but doesn’t reflect her personality and style. Well past the days of flat share but not yet ready to invest in her own place, it’s probably not her lifetime abode – but should still feel like her home.

The hardest part about redecorating her rental?

“The existing furniture!” Like most properties, the key pieces made up a sizeable part of the furniture, and getting it to blend into the background seemed impossible. But that’s where a professional touch can come in handy. In this case, Natascha, an interior designer from Homewings, gave Claire a nudge in the right direction. Together they made a few simple tweaks that gave the space a fresh feel and look.

Read about some tricks of the trade to see how Claire turned her London rental into a perfectly-styled home on a £1,000 budget.



Claire, which challenges did you face, decorating your rental? How did you get started?

I had basically given up on making my rental feel…well, mine. I rented the flat furnished, so the larger pieces of furniture were there to stay, no matter how much they clashed with my style. I tried to decorate it to my taste by adding small furnishings and items here and there. However, the result was pretty tragic. It was as though my efforts were somehow making the space worse! I’m pretty sure I gave my flat an identity crisis.

YES! This is so me! It finally feels like my living room.

What do you love about the space?

The space itself! There are two gorgeous floor to ceiling windows with little Juliet balconies, and the light that pours in is absolutely beautiful. I also love the hardwood floors. As many London letters will know, non-carpeted apartments in central London are quasi-mythical in their rarity.

And what don’t you love about the space?

There’s nothing that I don’t love, as much as there are things that are really not my style. It sucks to walk into your home every evening and feel like it doesn’t really represent you or your style.

What style were you going for?

I guess you could call it “scandi-meets-modern-by-the-seaside”. The natural light in the space is incredible, so I wanted to keep it as light and airy as possible. I love mixing and matching different textures while still keeping the general colour palette more on the light side.

How do you mostly use the space? Was this a part of the brief?

Flower vases and tableware in different shapes and patterns for that extra edge.

The space really is the heart of the home, and the final result had to reflect that. It had to be the swiss army knife of spaces; serving as a dining room, living room and home office all-in-one without feeling mismatched.

What was the biggest design challenge?

Definitely the existing furniture we had to work with, which wasn’t just not my style, but made up a sizeable part of the décor. Getting it to blend into the background was something I hadn’t managed. The other challenge was creating a multi-purpose space with one unified aesthetic, and not just two opposing functional spaces in the same room.

What were some of the limitations you faced when decorating your home?

One big limitation was the budget. As a young professional, the idea of getting your flat professionally designed is far from a priority. I didn’t have much to spend on it. Another major limitation was the fact that I couldn’t paint the walls – something I was very keen on doing.

Why did you opt for getting your space professionally designed?

I would have loved to get the space designed from the get go, but never even considered it. To me, interior design was this expensive and unattainable luxury. Then I found Homewings through Urbanara, and getting my space designed actually became the more affordable and convenient option, because my designer helped me find the pieces I wanted at prices I could pay, and I didn’t waste a cent on things that only might have worked.

Can you explain the process?

After a quick style quiz, writing a quick project brief and uploading photos of my space I was matched with Natasha, one of Homewings’ professional designers.
Within minutes of our Skype call we were already chatting about how to tackle certain challenges and brainstorming design ideas, so we really jumped right in! Natasha set up our collaboration board and started posting some inspirational pictures of spaces and interiors she thought I might like, as well as pieces of furniture or colour schemes.

It’s all in the details: big coffee table books in the same colour scheme.

On the board I could like/unlike and comment on the items and photos so she could create my individual style concept. Once the style concept had been decided, Natasha started populating our collaboration board with specific items. Everything from cushions, to plates and cutlery.. it was incredible to see the design come together. There was something satisfying about scrolling through the selection and just thinking, “YES! This is SO me!”.

Natasha took all the items I had ‘liked’ and brought them together in visualisation. It was crazy to see the space completely change before any furniture had even gone into it! Looking back, I think this was the coolest part of the process, or at least the one that I was the most surprised by.

From there, it I simply had to select the items I wanted to purchase, and Natasha took care of the rest!

What was your favourite part of the online design process?

The entire process was so collaborative, fun and genuinely personal – something I never thought I’d get from an online service. Having someone to help visualise my style, but who understood the restrictions of rental interior design really did shape the way the space was ultimately used.

What is the best thing about your new living room?

It sounds cheesy but my favourite thing is that it finally feels like my living room! No but also – the beauty of working with an interior designer was that she recommend a suite of things that matched, and which I can take with me if/when I move on. The idea that I can take a part of home with me is really nice.

A home for now and inspiration for a lifetime

Brainstorming and exchanging visions with an interior designer left Claire with a stunning new living room and a great deal of valuable insight, ideas and inspiration for homes to come. By adding fresh plants, pops of colour and cushions, Claire can now use her furnished rental to its full potential without splurging on an expensive and full-blown redesign.

Start your own project

Claire worked with our online, interior design service: UDESIGN. Powered by Homewings, the service aims to help you through your interior process and, together with a professional interior designer, create the home of your dreams, in your budget, all online.