Decorating for Landlords

Guest blog by Nicky Percival, Interior Designer

Creating homeliness for everyone

Decorating a rental property is not like decorating your own home. Whilst home renovation is all about individuality and creating a space that reflects your personality, decorating for rentals is about creating homeliness that suits everyone.  On top of that, this homeliness needs to be hardwearing and cost-efficient.  

Depending on the market and the number of properties in the portfolio, landlords must decide to whether to spend on good quality for longevity or pay less for cheap and cheerful, knowing that certain furnishings may have to be replaced regularly.


We Brits have an obsession with fitted carpets, we think they bring cosiness and warmth in a way that our continental neighbours do not.  Being practical for rentals is key. Wood or porcelain (or laminate, if on a budget) for hard working areas – kitchens, bathrooms and hallways, is a must. Darker options are better than light and are both easier to clean and more durable.  I would recommend carpets only for bedrooms, and choose wisely – mid tone or small pattern, so marks show less easily.


Think neutral, but no ‘builders magnolia’ please!  Pale neutrals give an illusion of space.  White can work well in bigger properties but may seem cold and utilitarian in others.  All shades of grey have been more fashionable recently.  A soft warm taupe is also a good option. Use water-resistant eggshell or acrylic paint in the kitchen and bathrooms.  If you have more than one property, consider keeping to the same palette, so that spare tins of paint work for all.  All woodwork should be white for ease and a streamlined look.


White chinaware is a must, set against a coloured backdrop.  Simple tiling in limestone or travertine style is very effective, but remember that white tiles and grout can look tired very quickly.  Use similar tiling on the floor and consider tiling floor-to-ceiling for a homogeneous, clean, lined look.  Fit the shower over the bath, rather than separately, to save space.  Choose an electric shower, so that your tenants will still be able to take a hot shower even if there is a problem with the boiler.  Have a separate loo if possible, so there is less of an emergency if one breaks.


When renovating, it is not necessary to strip out and start from scratch.  Consider replacing cabinet doors and worktops.  Make sure there is plenty of storage, good lighting and a workable layout. Worktops need to be as tough as possible.  Use quartz if the budget allows and have upstands and a splashback to protect walls. Appliances do not need to be integrated, although this does give a smart, clean, lined look.  Freestanding appliances are easier to access for repair.  Be clever with storage solutions and make sure everything is clean and fresh.  Kitchens and bathrooms are the most important rooms.


Avoid furnishing rentals unless they are HMOs or holiday lets, which are not being covered here.  Tenants who bring their own furniture and make their rental their home will look after it better and stay longer.  Dress the windows. These should be simple, practical and durable.  Blackout roller blinds in bedrooms and venetian blinds or shutters in other rooms.  Pair these with simple poles and readymade curtains.  Well fitted, good quality door furniture is key to making the property seem well-appointment and well-maintained. This will help it to appear homely and complete.

Nicky Percival, Interior Designer