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DECOR ADVICE: Your home doesn’t have to be a blank canvas

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Longing to have the latest look, but lack the financial resources to make it a reality? Or perhaps you are wary of sinking stacks of money into decor you are not certain you will like in the long term? Renting furniture might be the answer

Milennials. They love their #selfies, their plants and their minimalist decor. But, caught in a web of stagnant wages, student loan debt and temp jobs, many can’t foot the bill for the look they aspire to, or can’t justify buying furniture for the long term.

How do retailers reach a generation that desires upscale furnishings but can’t afford the full sticker price? In the US, many are launching options for customers to rent furnishings short term, with an option to buy.

These new ventures are geared toward reusability and feature curated packages that could help take the guesswork and commitment out of furnishing. 

Local designer Will Engelbrecht says this is happening in South Africa as well.

“I have found this in particular with overseas clients who have a short-term contract in South Africa, do not want to live in a furnished place and prefer to have furniture to their liking.

“There are companies that allow the client to easily return after renting for a few months, or even a year. If you Google furniture rental, or rent-to-buy furniture, you will find some. But be sure to find someone who doesn’t just rent for functions but offers this as a dedicated service to make it affordable.”

It is not only furniture you can rent. Recently, in the US two big names – West Elm and Rent the Runway – announced a partnership for customers to rent textiles such as quilts, blankets, throw pillows and linen. At the end of a fixed period, customers can buy the items or swop them for something new. 

Similarly, several start-ups are renting full suites of upscale furniture to aspiring urban home makers. Even low-cost Ikea is getting in on the concept. The company announced this month it would launch a pilot rental programme in 30 countries in an effort to keep its furniture out of landfills.

Some companies are even renting baby furniture, banking on consumers who aren’t ready to commit to one set of furniture. Engelbrecht says renting accessories and furniture allows the client to change the mood of their home, and switch up their decor seasonally by selecting curated items.

These new services could be an appealing option for people looking for a slice of luxury without taking the full financial hit.

Kim Fitzgerald finds the concept appealing. “I am always either living in a place with hand-me-downs or scraping together to buy stuff off Gumtree. It feels like if I could rent stuff, I could at least temporarily have nice things.” The property market has seen a reduction in buying and an upswing in renting, so this could be a new craze. Watch this space. – Washington Post and Vivian Warby

If you don’t want to rent furniture

Here are 11 tips for those on the tightest budget to change the look of their home without breaking the bank.

  • Use colourful throws on your couch to give it a completely new look.
  • Rearrange your furniture. Put a chair in your bedroom or swop around how you have laid out your lounge.
  • Candles always add a good feel to a space. Put different height and size candles together to create a focal point.
  • Declutter. In this sort of decluttering you don’t have to chuck out but just hide away, so there are clean lines on your surfaces.
  • Gather like items with like items – it is always easier on the eye. •
  • If you have been given curtains, how would they look, if you ruched them? Don’t be afraid to use your needlework skills to rework old items. And always wash whatever hand-me-downs you get. Just doing that can breathe new life into them.
  • Make use of plants to separate or enhance areas.
  • Buy a bunch of flowers for an instant lift.
  • In the kitchen, use old glassware to store food items on shelves. Place brightly coloured fruit in a bowl.
  • Frame photographs to display on a wall. • If you are going to spend some money, buy bright towels and a bathroom set. A nice rug can really bring a space together. – Vivian Warby
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