In our bid to prove you really can make your mark on a rental home, this week interior designer Joanna Ford shares her living room with Interiors Addict. What do you think of the before and afters?
Having lived in London for almost five years, Joanna and her family returned home to Bayside, Melbourne at the start of this year. With longterm tenants in their own house, they have been forced to rent for a year or so. “This is the fifth new home for our young family in the past seven years and I needed to create a space that feels stable and familiar for the children, particularly as they transition to a ‘new’ country, new school etc. At the same time it’s likely to be just 12-to-18 months before we move into our own home.
“The living room/library is a large space at the front of the house that had previously been used as a formal lounge and dining area. My first step in transitioning this into our space was to assess the best zone and flow of the house for our family’s needs. With a younger family, we wanted the dining area close to the kitchen, and away from the television. We also deliberately wanted to separate our ‘work’ space from our relaxation space, and wanted to reinforce the importance of reading for all of us by creating dedicated spaces encouraging quiet reading (including reading nooks in the childrens’ bedrooms),” says Joanna.
“Having decided on the best use of this space for our family, the next challenge was to blend the traditional features and very neutral palette with our furniture, and add some colour, familiarity and identity. I used two feature floor lamps, one in black and one in chrome reflecting the furniture, to help create two distinct zones with their own ambience and mood. I re-covered the seating and some backing cushions in the bay window to lift the neutral cream by adding some bold colours which can be easily removed at the end of our tenancy. Then I used a bold rug to add warmth, colour and texture, which helps tie the stark modern furniture into the more traditional setting. The soft furnishings in the living room and the knick-knacks and the books in the library record our life and travels in Europe.”
Joanna is a great believer that you make rental houses homes that reflect your style and needs just as much as somewhere you own. “In London, my family lived in three different rented homes, which I also sought to set up and style as far as possible, given the constraints of a transient ex-pat renter’s lifestyle. While repainting or wallpapering a room may often be out of the question, there are a range of inexpensive, non-permanent fittings that can really style up a room, add your own personality, and be taken with you to your next property, such as a stylish lamp, wall art, rugs and throws. Even in the children’s bedrooms, small touches like a cosy reading corner made out of plush cushions can make a huge difference.”
She adds: “It’s also important to establish how a rented home can flow and work for you, rather than how it may have worked for the previous tenants or landlord. This one thing has made a transformational difference for my family in our current home.”