Katherine’s Guide to Making Yourself at Home

Katherine’s Guide to Making Yourself at Home

Can writer and rental-styling enthusiast, Katherine Ormerod, turn one of our Riverstone Heights apartments into a stylish home in just 48 hours? Watch her work her magic!

Whether it’s our individual castle or no place like it, we all know the power of home to make us feel anchored and grounded. The fundamental building block from where all good things begin, feeling ‘at home’ where you live isn’t just a nice to have. But when you rent, transforming your space into something which reflects your personal aesthetic can feel like an elusive goal. From rental contracts to deposit disputes, not to mention the financial investment into something which by its very nature is ephemeral, it’s all too easy to simply give up. But no matter where you hang your hat, there is so much to gain from stamping your mark. Whether it’s the mental health perspective, or from a sense of pride, the simple pleasure of looking around and feeling content with what you see indoors - that is if you’re the kind of person who is affected by their environment - has a value beyond what you spend on it.

Of course, decorating when you’re a renter is an exercise in compromise. You’re not going to be able to change anything structural and before you touch anything that can’t instantly be returned to factory settings, you must discuss and gain permission for your landlord - in writing. To make decorating as a tenant economically responsible, I have also refined and gained new skills to remove the need for any labour to cut costs. I’ve learnt to make curtains from scratch, become an expert in vinyl application and honed my drilling, sawing and painting techniques. Some of these skills I was fortunate enough to have been taught by my grandparents, but I’ve picked up many more from YouTube, trial and error. You can do so much more than you would ever believe yourself capable of, but the only way to learn is to get going. Start small with manageable projects and go from there. Would you love to master a sewing machine? Get a basic model and try creating simple square napkins. Once you’ve nailed a set of six, why not turn your hand to a tablecloth? Before long you’ll be knocking up your own cushion covers, blinds and curtains. Perhaps your ambitions are geared more towards carpentry. With a straightforward jig and drill you can make any 90 degree join and from there, the world in wood is your oyster.

"Join me and turn your temporary space into a beautiful place - no matter where you live, anyone can turn a house into a home."

"Start small with manageable projects and go from there..."

At Riverstone Heights, I approached the apartment in four distinct zones. First up was the kitchen and dining area, which really just needed softening with a creative tablescape. Adding hand painted glassware (simply brush your chosen designs onto basic tumblers and cure in the oven for 30 minutes), and handmade gingham napkins and tablecloth, all that was needed to finish the look was a set of ric rac-edged placemats and bud vases with cheap as chips tulips. Moving on to the seating area, here there is such an opportunity to curate a chic space for relaxation and conversation. Building a wooden frame from scratch and stretching a woven blanket to create a large floor-standing tapestry results in immediate impact - it quite simply elevates the atmosphere. Reflecting the geometry of the tapestry with a ceiling mobile (affixed with a removable sticky hook) and angular vases, the room is pulled together with great value handmade ticking cushions.

"Whether it’s our individual castle or no place like it, we all know the power of home to make us feel anchored and grounded."

On to the light-filled bedroom in the sky. I am a woman who lives for both print and colour in my space and when you can’t paint your walls, one great option is using your furniture and light fixtures to start the party. Here I painted bobbin style lamp bases, created temporary upholstery with the use of fabric Velcro to totally transform the bed and added a bold rug and red scalloped linen to tie the whole scheme together. The cherry on top? A beautiful piece of art from Interrupted Art which offers a subscription based rental service for large scale paintings. To add further functionality, I added a heavy duty tension rod into the cupboard to create a huge wardrobe space. Paired with a simple bench to store cubby boxes below, this option makes the most of every square centimetre of your apartment, turning your storage system into a décor event.

"Would you love to master a sewing machine? Get a basic model and try creating simple square napkins."

Of course you may look at all my updates and think, my lord this is all too much, my minimalist eyes cannot compute all this noise. That’s totally fine, because this is what I like, it isn’t for everyone. What I’m more trying to show is what’s possible. You could keep your palette to various shades of white, you could go further with print and colour clashes - there are so many more options as a renter than you may have been led to believe. So join me and turn your temporary space into a beautiful place - no matter where you live, anyone can turn a house into a home.

Discover Way of Life's one and two-bedroom homes to rent at Riverstone Heights in East London. View all apartments to rent.

Written by Katherine Ormerod, author of 'Your Not Forever Home'. Follow Katherine on Instagram.

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