Decorating Ideas From 10 Renters Around the Globe
Who lives here: Stefanie Luxat, with her husband and their daughter, Ruby, 1
Occupation: Blogger, journalist and author
Location: Hamburg, Germany
Property: Renovated apartment in a turn-of-the-century building
How they found their home: Thanks to a colleague — I’m so incredibly thankful for her tip-off. In Hamburg, when an attractive home is for sale, there are almost mass rallies, with long queues and over-friendly people wanting to impress the broker (sometimes even bribing them with cake). You need strong nerves and a cool head for that.
Her best idea for personalizing her rented home: To no longer live with so many compromises, to not wait for our own home before living nicely, comfortably and the way we want to. Thus, three years ago we extensively renovated our rented apartment. Everyone screamed, “But you don’t own it — it’s like throwing money out of the window!” For us, though, it was well worth it. Every happy day counts, no matter where. And during the renovation, I got the idea for my book, How an Apartment Becomes a Home, which became the bestselling lifestyle book in Germany in 2014. So the renovation costs were returned!
See more of this home
Who lives here: Clare Nicolson, with her boyfriend, John
Occupation: Designer and prop stylist
Location: Stoke Newington area of London, England
Property: Top-floor, one-bedroom flat
How they found their home: Through weeks of obsessively checking rental-listing sites. We knew we wanted to stay in Stoke Newington, a great part of north London, but needed to find the perfect flat within our budget. Luckily, we saw this one as it was listed and snapped it up there and then.
Prefer to buy or rent: I don’t prefer to rent, especially in London, as it’s so expensive! We’re hoping to buy somewhere one day.
Who lives here: Pierre Petit, plus Jean the Jack Russell terrier
Location: 18th arrondissement (district) of Paris, France
Property: Studio of about 320 square feet (30 square meters) with a bathroom, kitchen, living area and platform bedroom
How he found his home: Through a rental agency.
Decorating restrictions: Not really. I suggested a deal to my landlady: I would renovate the flat for free if I was allowed to do whatever I wanted. As it’s her only property in Paris and she’s planning to give it to her son, she accepted, and is now really happy with what I’ve done, because it’s increased the value. I may just have to paint the black wall in the kitchen white when I leave.
Prefer to buy or rent: I would love to buy a flat that I could entirely remodel.
See more of this home
Who lives here: Rachael Valentine, with Sebastian Hartog, 41, a videographer
Occupation: Owner of online store Hattie and studio space The Craft Parlour
Location: Coolangatta, Queensland, Australia
Property: Top level of a 1976 beach duplex high on a hill overlooking the town, with distant views of the coastline
How they found their home: Through a real estate agency.
Their best idea for personalizing their rented home: On the veranda, we’ve strung up rows of potted plants in macramé holders to bring the outdoors in. They give our home that extra 1970s vibe. Hanging them from the rafters means they won’t leave a mark, and the “garden” can be transported with us if we ever move.
See more of this home
Who lives here: Taku Izawa, left, plus friend Yusuke Doteuchi
Occupation: Works for an information technology company on weekdays; professional chalkboard artist atPaint & Supply on weekends
Location: Meguro Ward of Tokyo, Japan
Property: Three-bedroom flat in a 32-year-old building
That’s interesting: One of Taku and Yusuke’s chalkboard artworks welcomes guests at the entrance to the Houzz office in Tokyo.
How they found their home: Through a real estate agent.
Some of our chalkboard artworks are just propped against the wall, resting on the floor or a table, and the others are hung from a bar set on the wall with pillar brackets, so we don’t damage the wall. Doteuchi is an architect who works for an architectural design firm, so he has a lot of ideas that won’t cause any damage to the apartment’s interior and structure.
Prefer to buy or rent: We have only lived in this apartment for three months, so we want to live here for the time being. If either of us finds someone to marry and needs a place to live, then I may consider buying a home.
See more of this home
Who lives here: Catalina Inda, with husband Peru Saizprez and their daughter, Dada, and son, Lorca
Occupation: Audiovisual production manager for creative agencies
Location: Conde Duque area of Madrid, Spain
Property: Three-bedroom, three-bathroom flat
How they found their home: We used to live in an 80-square-meter [about 860-square-foot] apartment that eventually became a bit small for four. We wanted something bigger, and then this 285-square-meter [about 3,070-square-foot] flat suddenly came out of the blue. We were not looking for something this massive, but we immediately loved it — it was love at first sight! It was so quick, we saw it and two hours later we were signing the contract.
During the viewing, we had a clear idea about which room was for each of us, where we would put our stuff, the furniture we would use…. After seeing many properties, we knew right away that this was “the one.”
Their best idea for personalizing their rented home: The layout of the house fit so well with what we had in mind that we didn’t need to make big changes. We’ve been gradually customizing and decorating the space with the stuff we have. Maybe the best idea was to build a custom library in the dining room. We have many books and needed a place for them. In fact, it’s already full, and we are thinking of where to build the next one.
Prefer to buy or rent: We already own a property — the 80-square-meter [about 860-square-foot]apartment where we used to live — which is now rented out. Thanks to that, we can afford to live in a bigger house. We aren’t considering buying again at all. Just the thought of tying ourselves to a mortgage again is terrifying!
Who lives here: Paola Rampazzo, with Giovanni Cortese and (as of four hours after the Houzz photo shoot) baby Tito
Occupation: Kindergarten teacher
Location: Mountain plateau of Asiago, Vicenza, in northeastern Italy
Property: Former barn renovated as a two-story house
Decorating restrictions: Because it’s temporary accommodation — maybe we’ll only stay here for a couple of years — I can’t get rid of the furniture or modify it too much; I can only add some decoration to the existing pieces. That’s the only way to make it mine.
Prefer to buy or rent: We are hoping to buy eventually, but I can’t afford to buy a house right now. In the future!
See more of this home
Who lives here: Russian ex-pat Ely “Elina” Gordeeva, 29, with her husband, Andrey “Gordei” Gordeev, 31
Location: Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
Property: Custom-built house with a small yoga lodge
How they found their home: We were renting the property next door, which the landlord also owns. We asked him about dozens of improvements. For example, we moved some doors in the previous building, relocated the gas tank in the kitchen, repainted walls. The owner was tired of the changes. He is living on the rent from the houses. So he decided to build a completely new house instead of redesigning the old one (this seemed to be easier) and kindly proposed that Ely plan it from scratch and move in.
One of the reasons we found ourselves in Bali a couple of years ago was that it’s summer all year round and there’s always plenty of fresh fruits.
Decorating restrictions: Not many, as the landlord actually built the house to our wishes. He said, “I am about to build a house — please, just do everything as you want it to be there.” It’s sun-oriented, and we carefully planned the heat insulation for the roof and air ducts (which allow us to live here in a hot climate without air conditioning). We also insisted on having a proper bathroom — people are used to outdoor showers in Bali.
Prefer to buy or rent: We prefer to rent. We like to change places, our way of living and habits, and make new fantasies comes true. It’s impossible when you stay in your own house for years. We build new houses together with the owner and have a chance to move into a new one every year.
Who lives here: Kate Bowler, with husband Mike and cat Griffin
Occupation: Works in marketing and writes the blog Domestikated Life
Location: Somerville, near Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Property: One-bedroom, top-floor apartment in an 1885 building
How they found their home: On Craigslist, which seems to be a popular method in Boston.
Their best idea for personalizing their rented home: We painted every room when we moved in, and we took out a lot of doors that broke up the space and made it feel smaller. We’ll have to rehang the doors when we move out; they’re stored in a crawl space right now. Both of those things really opened up the flat. We also brought in a lot of free-standing furniture, such as a kitchen cart, bar cart, table and bookshelves, to give the kitchen a lot more functionality.
See more of this apartment
Who lives here: Ann Jonsson, with her husband, Einar
Occupation: Retired journalist
Location: Norrtälje, a small town north of Stockholm, Sweden
Property: Two-bedroom apartment in a converted office space
How they found their home: We used to live in central Stockholm but exchanged apartments with a younger woman who wanted to live in the big city.
Decorating restrictions: Since the property is quite old and not in top condition, the landlord had no objections to us improving the flat. But as a tenant, of course, you weigh how much money you want to spend on a house that isn’t yours. We wouldn’t consider laying new floors or installing a new kitchen, since that’s money we’d lose if we moved. The house was built in the early 20th century, and the flat was used as an office in a previous life. Before then it was inhabited by one of the town’s bigwigs, who indulged in wood paneling and golden leather wallpaper.
I’ve always wanted yellow walls in my bedroom, so we chose a soft lemon shade. The floor was washed with professional paint remover, which was the most important part of the project. We then painted it with a high-gloss white floor paint, two coats, so the light reflects from it. The closets were also painted white.
Prefer to buy or rent: It’s very practical to rent and have a landlord. If the drains get blocked, you just call him and it gets fixed. You don’t have to worry about maintenance and costly renovations, such as broken pipes, a leaking roof or fixing a facade.