Video feature: style on a shoestring; how to make a rented home your own

With only £1,500 to spend, Amira Hashish shows how to turn a bland rented room into a space that's summer-themed, feminine and fun
Style on a shoestring
Amira Hashish with the design team
Generation rent inhabits a fifth of housing in London. As the cost of living in the capital continues to rise, tenants set on long-term letting rather than home ownership are seeking “takeaway” style ideas that won’t break the bank.

Using a mix of items from high street shops, independent boutiques and websites, savvy shoppers can give a room a boost on a budget without having to redecorate on their landlord’s behalf.

For the first in our new Style on a Shoestring series, we turned a bland, unfurnished living room into a vibrant, summer-themed space ideal for female sharers, spending only £1,500. The key to success was finding portable, practical and reusable items.

How we did it: scroll down to watch our video of the transformation, plus behind-the-scenes footage

Room shot
© Hangar Seven

1. Find a super sofa

The three-seater fabric sofa from dfs is part of the Bizz range. Available in pillow or formal back, it is comfortable and a good size for sharing. There are nine colours to choose from but the pink works well for our summer theme.

Priced at £399, a matching footstool is available for £179 as part of the June Price Snap promotion (see for latest offers). Tie them in with cushions from the collection, featuring a funky Marilyn Monroe print, for £20 each.
Philip Watkin, from the design and development team at dfs, said: “There are lots of great bargains to be found at this time of year — just be prepared to shop around and do your research, both online and on the high street.

“For example, some items in the June Price Snap from dfs are better than half price until the end of the month. Whether your style is modern or classic, your space large or small, there is something for everyone.”

2. Get the rug right

Go for a bright rug that brings the room together. Renters should opt for a material that is easy to clean or capable of dealing with a lot of wear and tear. Ikea’s Springkorn flatwoven rugs can be wiped or hosed down and then hung up to dry.

They come in red, turquoise or blue but the latter brings out the detail in the footstool and cushions used in this makeover. A real bargain at £15 (

Watch our six-minute video of the transformation plus behind-the-scenes footage

3. Cut curtain costs

Voile is a good alternative to thicker fabrics that might demand more maintenance and provides a low-cost, temporary fix. Purple linen voile curtains from (£11.99) make a good match for the sofas and artwork. Another option is Very’s canvas pleated curtains in plum (from £16; Expect to pay £13.49 at for a metal curtain track.

Digetex stocks hundreds of funky wall murals with matching blinds, including this Superwoman print (murals from £79, blinds from £119;

4. Lighting up

Fairy lights, free standing and table lamps are simple and effective ways of changing the ambience of a room as well as enhancing the decor. The Turek green fluorescent floor lamp (£16.98; adds a futuristic vibe to the space. Play with shapes, sizes and shades of green by placing the Gavik lamp (£13; on a sideboard.

5. Make art work

Striking artwork can bring a room alive. is a great resource for one-off pieces that have the wow factor. All works featured on the site are sourced from London art school graduates. Prices range from as little as £10 to £26,000 and each piece can be paid for in instalments which means pricing plans can be adapted according to budgets. For example, to work with our budget, we chose to pay for Ramzi Muza’s Golden Girl (£1,200) in 10 instalments at £120 a month.

This large-scale piece, which combines a graphic and abstract approach to figurative painting, is irresistibly eye-catching but there are less expensive options which would only require a one-off payment, such as Muza’s When The Cloud Passed Over for £140. Team bold gold images with the more subtle Central Library 17/7/12 12.00pm (seen framed on the honeycomb-patterned wall) for £90.

A problem that some renters may face is not being able to mark walls. But there are solutions available. Try Takker (£19 a kit; which helps hang pictures without the need for a hammer and nails.

6. Revamp the walls

Apply a wall mural to inject a boost of colour. It is quick, effective and makes a more interesting alternative to standard wallpaper. There are hundreds of prints to choose from at The design used for this makeover is called Jazz and prices start from £79 for a mini roll. But alternative options include London skylines, pop art styles and oriental patterns.

Unlike conventional wallpaper hanging methods you can paste the wall rather than the paper — which means no soak time or pasting table is required, minimising decorating time. Check that the landlord is happy with your choice.

Alternatively, stick the mural on a large canvas and place it against the wall. Digetex also have matching cushions and blinds to accompany the murals.

7. Find a top table

The blue button table (£69, is conveniently light and easy to store. And the sweet button design offers a playful edge without being too overpowering. It is a great match for Ikea’s black, green and white plates which cost £15 for a set of three (

A Vesparado cushion, £19, from Furniture Village (

8. Be savvy with storage

London flats are often short of space so storage is an absolute must. But opt for novel ways of keeping the room tidy to enhance the style. B&Q stock large flexi tubs in a range of bright colours for £5.98 ( They are strong, lightweight and ideal for holding throws or cushions, which can be swapped periodically to freshen up the room with different patterns. Keep bits and bobs in H&M’s bright pink handbag (far right in picture; £29.99;

9. Experiment with accessories

The red fruit bowl (far left in main picture) also works as a colourful magazine holder and was £14 from Ikea ( Head to the same shop for these photo frames (£7.50 for a set of three); pretty flamingo glasses (75p each); a matching throw (£9); mini mirrors (£3.50 each) that here double as trays for macaroons; and multicoloured vases (£2 each).

Neon is bang on trend so Matthew Williamson’s pink suitcase (£25; makes a cool alternative to a vase for fresh or artificial flowers. We spent £35 at the local market on seasonal stems that complemented the summer vibe. Head to Columbia Road (columbia for an unrivalled range.

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