1. Call it home. If you just think and call it a place to stay then it has no chance of ever being home. I get so used to doing this I even call the place I am staying on holiday home because for the time that I am there it is my home.
2. If at all possible have your own furniture. When we moved to our house in Germany we had the option of renting some furniture from my husband’s work. We did and it was truly awful 1950s stuff. We asked for a van to come and pick it up. Yes our house looks emptier, but it also looks like it’s ours. If your own furniture is not possible go to a home store and add some accessories. I was in Zara in Hamburg over the weekend and they had the store laid out with things that went together. One section was Club Tropicana, Barry Manilow style complete with pineapple candles. Anything is possible…
3. Choose rooms – don’t just use rooms in a certain way because the previous occupant or owners used the house that way. You might not need an office, you might prefer your bedroom to look out on to the garden. Make the space yours.
4. Get it maintained – we have had a lot of houses handed over in a bad state because previous occupants didn’t ask the landlord to do work that needed doing. This is one of the benefits of renting a house rather than buying it. Use it. When work needs to be done on a house ask for it to be done and keep asking until you are told no and a reason for this or until they get round to it.
5. Plant hardy annuals – every year I love to watch the Chelsea Flower Show. Diarmuid’s latest is not going to work in a rented garden. By planting hardy annual seeds in the Spring you get colour in your garden without a big investment and you can see what works in the soil. This means that the following year you can use whatever were the best seeds.
6. Don’t spend money on things you won’t benefit from long term. In the past we have painted walls, but re-floor a kitchen or retile a bathroom – NOPE. The money is better in our account going towards a Norfolk Country Cottages holiday.
7. Order – Don’t expect to figure out where everything goes straight away. It takes time to figure out how to store things in any new house. There seems to be a primeval urge to visit Ikea as soon as moving anywhere new. Resist it for at least two weeks so you have figured out ‘the list’.
8. Clean to be seen – any house feels nicer if it is clean. If cleaning is not your thing get a cleaner or get a flylady routine from her website or from the book ‘Sink Reflections.’
9. Bake – any home feels more homely when you have baked something in it. See the ‘silver fox’ A.K.A. Paul Hollywood’s baking books for gluten filled treats or if you are gluten free like me use Dove Farm gluten free flours.
10. Get your own curtains if the ones that come with the house are awful. You then won’t have to look at curtains that someone else picked because they had to pick curtains to cover the windows for the tenants rather than for any style considerations whatsoever.