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DECOR ADVICE: Turning a rental into a home

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An interior designer provides tips for making a new space yours

Expert: Will Engelbrecht, interior designer and founder of

Will Engelbrecht

Q What should I look for when considering a new place?

A Decide what you want from a new apartment. Do you need loads of natural light, views, space, quietness? I live in the middle of the city and for me it was key to have a great view and be in easy walking distance of stores and restaurants. Since I mostly run my office from home and spend loads of time in my space, it was important to feel comfortable here. I also suggest knowing your neighbours. Get info on the people in the block and what they do. Will it be a good fit for you or will it be people you would not want to ask for a bowl of sugar?

Q I need to quickly make a place my own. How do I achieve this?

A I would unpack and then decide the next step. Live in it for a bit and then see what you want to achieve from the space. Designers always advise new homeowners, should they want to renovate, to live in the space for a while before deciding to get rid of walls, for example. Whether you are renting or buying it’s always great to make the space your own by painting some walls, changing a few light fittings and bringing in plants. Most landlords are open to this and allow tenants to put up paintings and paint walls to make it their own. It helps to ensure a long relationship with the landlord and shows someone who is house proud. You can repaint to its original state when you decide to leave. If you are not allowed to paint or do anything to the walls, like hanging art, I would go for a standing tall mirror or big art piece that just sits against the wall. WillDesign has affordable mirrors in the range.

Q How will I know if my L-shape couch will fit into my new home?

A If you struggle to imagine how your furniture will fit into the space, I suggest measuring up the whole apartment and drawing yourself a rough plan, so you can more or less estimate how your layout will look and perhaps have enough walkway between the furniture. L-shape couches are always tricky regarding which side sits where.

Q What do you regard as the most important item in a home. What should I fork out for?

A A comfortable bed is the most important by far. It is wise to spend money on a good mattress because that will keep you sleeping soundly and will be with you for at least 10 years.

Q What else can I do to make my space more homely?

A Bigger pieces of art standing on the floor look stunning and are easy to move around. Mix them with plants that overpower empty wall spaces or invest in beautiful pendants that can easily be taken down for your next move. Hanging lights, pendants and chandeliers create focal points.


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