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DIY Decor Makes a Rental Studio Apartment in KL Boho Chic
Yes, you can make your ideal home a reality, regardless if you live in a rented or purchased home!
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We all want to live in a home that reflects our style and personality, whether we own it or rent it. Creating a dream home in a rented space, on the other hand, is far more difficult, as many landlords do not permit permanent changes to their properties.
That doesn't mean you can't make it your own and get creative while you're at it. Take a cue from this 25-year-old tenant. Despite living in a rented space, she managed to infuse some charm and personality into her 550 square foot studio apartment.
We spoke with Rhianna to discover how she elevates the overall look of her home with a small budget and without making any permanent changes to her rented apartment.
Qanvast: Hi, tell us about yourself
Rhianna (R): Hello, my name is Rhianna. I am 25 years old and have a bachelor's degree in architecture. For the past two years, I have worked as an interior designer in the design industry, where my responsibilities included conceptual idea development, spatial planning, material and furniture sourcing, and project management. I'm currently taking a short break to further my studies and obtain my master’s degree in architecture.
I'm currently living in a 550-square-foot studio apartment on Jalan Kuching. The layout is simple (it's basically just a box), but it was ideal for me because I needed temporary housing close to my previous workplace.
After living with housemates for four years, the prospect of moving into my own space was exciting because I would finally have complete control over the design of my home. I also wanted to live in an unfurnished unit so that I could express my creativity and decorate as I see fit. I've been living here for about a year and I am enjoying the experience.
Q: In brief, how would you describe your home’s style?
R: My interior design style is a combination of boho chic and the Danish pastel aesthetic. I love rattan textures, light wooden elements, abstract patterns and also light pastel shades. My plants also play an important role in my current style. They bring life to my living space and allow me to have a little piece of nature in the comfort of my own home.
Q: What changes have you made to your studio apartment to achieve this look?
R: One disadvantage of my apartment is that it can get quite dark where the main light source is a full-height sliding glazed door in my bedroom. So the first thing I did when I moved in was purchase some lamps because lighting can drastically change the mood of a room.
I also replaced the existing dark curtains (that I found rather oppressive) with sheer white curtains, which made the space feel much brighter and cheerful. To help brighten the room, most of my furniture comes in light wood tones.
In my spare time, I enjoy doing DIY projects, and I created a few Macrame wall hangings and paintings to add texture and variety while softening the hardness of the walls and floors.
The giant macrame wall hanging that I have over my bed is one of my favourite pieces in my home. It took me about a week to complete, and I remember working on it every day after I got home from work. I also have a few smaller ones that I keep around the house.
Knowing that I might not be staying here for long, I limit the use of large furniture pieces. My living room, for example, adopts a tatami-style living room. When I'm doing creative projects or just chilling, I like to sit on the floor, so I made a cosy corner with a fur carpet and a bunch of cushions and pillows.
My plants also made my home much more vibrant, adding natural hues to contrast with the light pastel theme of the studio apartment.
Q: Which is your most favourite area in your home?
R: My favourite place in my home is definitely the bedroom. It is the brightest spot in the home and it faces east, so I get a lot of sunlight in the morning.
Natural light is one of the most important elements to incorporate into a space. Being in this room improves my mood and boosts my productivity. I also have a good view of the Petronas Twin Towers and enjoy gazing out at the city lights at night.
Q: Do you believe that decorating a rented space is worth the time, money and effort?
R: Yes, I believe so! I think that people have formed the misconception that you can only have your dream home later in life when you have "earned" it, but you should celebrate and enjoy the spaces you live in at every stage of your life. Our homes are a reflection of ourselves and if you can create a comfortable and peaceful environment to live in, you will be doing wonders for yourself!
Q: Where do you typically find your sources of inspiration?
R: Inspiration can be found everywhere. I love watching design and lifestyle videos on Youtube to gain ideas. Pinterest and websites like Archdaily and Design Milk also fuel my creativity. I take inspiration from local designers too; it gives me hope that the design scene in Malaysia is growing.
In terms of my motivation and determination, I owe it to my parents. They both studied architecture as well and have continuously told me that I can do anything I put my mind to. It is great being able to share ideas with them and I am so grateful for having a great support system growing up.
Q: Where do you usually get your home decor and furniture?
R: I didn't want to spend too much money on my rented home, so I kept my expenses to a minimum. I got the majority of my furniture from IKEA, thrift stores, and Instagram stores.
There are now a plethora of home décor stores on online platforms such as Shopee that sell beautiful home décor at reasonable prices.
I also DIY-ed some pieces like the tile table and mirror myself which makes this home feel more unique and personal.
Q: Speaking of DIY, what is your most favourite DIY project that you have worked on thus far?
R: One of my favourite DIY projects is the pastel pink tile table I did a while back. It was a trending DIY furniture project on Tik Tok and I really wanted to make one myself. Thanks to a friend from the design field, I was able to locate a shop that sold the exact tile I was looking for along the row of tile shops on Jalan Ipoh.
The total cost to make it was around RM80. I bought the square table on Shopee for RM30, and the material costs (tiles, grout, glue) were about RM50. I spent an entire day glueing the tiles to the table and then left it to dry overnight. I also used a tile cutter (purchased from Shopee) to cut some of the tiles to fit the table perfectly. The following day, I filled in the gaps with grout, which took a day or two to dry. I wiped the table clean once it was dry to complete the DIY process.
Precision and patience are two skills that would definitely come in handy when completing this table. It was a time-consuming process, but it was well worth it! It's also a cute DIY to try, and I love how this table is a little quirky and adds some character to my apartment.
Q: What tips and advice do you have for anyone wanting to start their own DIY projects?
R: I think everyone should try DIY at least once in their lifetime because it is so rewarding to see your vision come to life!
I would advise anyone who wants to start their own project to start off with something simple like a DIY coaster, mirror frame, clay art or an abstract painting.
Q: Can you share with us what are some of the most effortless ways to upgrade a room without spending big?
R: I can definitely share a few tips on that! An effective way to change the look of your room is by adding or changing the colour scheme – and it does not have to be expensive or permanent! You could change the colour of your curtains, bedsheets, pillows and even add in splashes of colours like new wall art or ornaments and it will completely change the vibe of your space.
Textures have a big impact as well. Rugs and carpets, for example, add texture and warmth to floors and can make a space feel complete. I would advise people to be bolder and experiment with different textures in their homes.
Good lighting can also help to elevate your space. I would recommend investing in floor lights or spotlights to create a relaxed atmosphere and to highlight the best features of your space.
Lastly, second-hand stores (including the Facebook marketplace) and thrift stores are a great way to upcycle furniture for a decent price and find truly unique pieces for your home.
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