Aside from the every day essentials you own (kitchen equipment, electrical goods etc) there are a few things that every renter should consider having that can help make any rental feel like home. Whether you stay for a few months, or a few years some things are worth a bit of investment and besides, you can take it all with you when you go!
|Image source: Cologne & Cotton|
Rug(s) - Great for adding interest to plain carpet, adding warmth to hard floors or covering up worn flooring, a rug or two is a must. Use a patterned rug to add interest to a plain scheme, colour for contrast or to brighten a cold or white room, and a neutral colour (cream, black, chocolate, caramel) to go with everything (useful if you move fairly frequently or have bright accessories) Dunelm Mill have a great selection of good quality but reasonably priced rugs (I have a couple so I really mean that!)
Curtains - If the curtains that some with your home are not to your liking, there's nothing to stop you taking them down, folding them up and storing them away to be re-hung when you leave. I used to do this when I was a student, it just helps to personalize your space. Ikea are a great source for inexpensive curtains, especially in large sizes, and are simple to hem (wonder web is indispensable if, like me, you can't sew) The best tips are, measure carefully get the right curtains for the pole/track you have and remember that it's better to get them longer than you might need. Even a small window will benefit from the drama of a full drop of curtains and when you move, they can be also used in a new room, with a bigger window. They don't have to be an exact fit either, a 'pool' of material on the floor can add a really luxurious element. End of season sales are another great place to pick up curtains and if you can sew, why not make your own?
Command Hooks - Essential for putting up pictures, and for hanging towels on the back of the bathroom and bedroom door and tea towels and aprons in the kitchen. A run of hooks in the hallway will also work as a coat rack. Many more uses can be found here.
Free standing lamp(s) - A floor lamp and a table lamp are all you need to add some low, comforting light. Overhead lights can be harsh and not necessarily in the best position, especially for reading in bed. Ikea is a great source for low cost, stylish lamps in both traditional and contemporary designs.
Cushions - For adding colour, pattern and interest to sofas, chairs and beds. They also makes your home more comfortable and inviting, plus larger cushions can double up as floor cushions for informal get togethers.
|Image source: Graham & Green|
Freestanding shelf unit - Even if you're moving in to a furnished place, there's rarely enough shelving for books, magazines, CDs or decorative items. This Expedit shelf from Ikea is really versatile. It's small enough to fit most spaces, holds records, magazines and even large books. It can be customized with CD inserts, baskets, or acrylic drawers. Used on it's side it can hold a TV or be used as a sideboard, if and when you have room, stand two side by side for some statement shelving. It's adaptability means that it could be re-purposed in different rooms and to a new house when you move. Personally I prefer the white or black/brown options because the fake wood ones look, well, fake.
|Image source: Ikea|
Art - Prints, posters, paintings, photographs, sculpture; whatever you like looking at, whatever inspires you and whatever you love coming home to. It can be found, bought, made by a friend, made by you, hung in themes or as an eclectic collection, no house is a home without art. Hang frames using Command Hooks if you don't want to bang nails into the walls, but always check the weight of the frame and use the correct hooks. For additional safely, I would never hang anything on a wall above a bed unless it was securely screwed in, you don't want anything to fall on you while you're sleeping!
Storage boxes - Storage is always an issue so it pays to have some versatile boxes. I have some that are good looking enough to be stacked in a corner (they look kind of like an industrial filing cabinet) but can also be slotted on to a shelf, stored in the bottom of the wardrobe, or popped under the bed to store shoes. Ikea really is the best place for all sorts of storage, buy patterned boxes if they're out on show, or customize plain white boxes, covered in paper, to suit your scheme.
|Image source: Ikea|
Insurance - An absolute essential. Most people have a computer or laptop, cameras, iPods etc, as well as books and CDs that all add up. ALWAYS have contents insurance of your own, most of the time, your landlords insurance will not cover your contents, especially against accidental damage or theft. Check the level of cover carefully though, as it may not include everything you think it might. For example, contents insurance might not cover damage to the carpets (as they don't belong to you) so make sure you know what you're paying for.