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Trick out your rental without losing the security deposit

Courtesy Rukmini Ray Kadam

For the decor enthusiast, living in a rental home can feel a bit stifling. So much creative opportunity, so little liberty. But there’s still plenty possible while respecting your rental agreement. Blogger Rukmini Ray Kadam’s home is a case in point. The Founder and Editor of decor and lifestyle blog has been renting the same apartment in Navi Mumbai for five years now. The 570-square-foot abode serves as a canvas for many a Pinterest-perfect composition featured on her popular blog and Instagram account, which offer ideas on living well on a budget. In an email interview, she shares some insider tips on personalizing your rental while being the perfect tenant.

The Essentials
Every rental needs its share of constants; pieces of furniture and accessories that are easily movable, in case of shifting to a new space or refreshing the current one. Rukmini suggests multi-functional pieces such as a sofa cum bed, coffee tables that double as seats or end tables and pouffes with storage. Also, floor lamps as they can be moved around to quickly change the vibe. Finally, portable speakers. “From dancing in the garden as you water your plants to turning your bedroom into a full-scale party place, speakers are important,” she says. Speaking of which, plants are an eco-chic way to add a fresh spot of colour to any area.

Lighting Design
To the lay person, lighting design can be tricky, let alone trying to get it right without the option of installing concealed wiring where needed. “Shifting to warmer light can make a considerable difference in ambience,” says Rukmini. While floor and table lamps are a go-to, she reminds that lighting options have evolved in recent times. Plug-in and clamp-on varieties, with aesthetic cords to boot, make it convenient to install wall and pendant fixtures at existing electrical points. Rukmini mentions the budget-friendly REGOLIT pendant lamp by IKEA as an example. Even the common tube light is available in sleek designs with smart covers and all.

Courtesy Rukmini Ray Kadam

Vertical Horizons
Walls are an important canvas but most landlords frown upon drilling into them or installing surface treatments. So how do you work around this? “There are two things I use: 1. Command Hooks by 3M; they are super strong and come off easily. Get the “damage free” variety that you can use up to three times to make adjustments. 2. I do drill holes into the wall but make it a conscious and calculative move. Take a photo of the wall and scribble how you’d want your artwork/pictures [to be displayed]. Then drill holes; as opposed to drilling and re-drilling,” explains Rukmini.

PROTIP: While swapping artworks, maintain the same frame size; change the size of mount board instead. That way the symmetry stays put; no need for extra holes in the wall!

Decals are an economic and fuss-free wall cladding option. They are available in a plethora of 3D designs that mimic organic or handmade textures. Buy some here and give your space an instant makeover!

Courtesy Rukmini Ray Kadam

Respect the Space
At the end of the day, treat the residence like it were your own. Don’t mess with the structural design (beams and pillars). “If you must reposition a drilled screw, fill up the hole in the wall with white cement and leave to rest. After 24 hours, smooth it down with a fine-grit sandpaper. Finally, add a coat of paint to blend with the wall,” says Rukmini.

A Good Match
Rukmini confesses that a big part of why she’s been in the same rental for half a decade is because of like-minded property owners! “My landlords are actually decor enthusiasts and highly appreciate what I do. I have had no limitations right from the start but I think as tenants you do have a responsibility,” she concludes.

So if you’re rental hunting, consider both, the house and its owners before making a decision. And if you’re already settled in, start earning those brownie points with the lessor!