It’s no secret that a nicely refurbished property will rent faster and for more than one with outdated decor. The question is, which style and finishes to go for when are embarking on renovation to make sure it will be practical, appeal to the prospective tenant, not get outdated any time soon and all this without costing too much? Is it too much to ask for? Not according to Sonia Pash, co-founder of Temza Interior Design and Construction Studio who is familiar to the question and shares her best tips she acquired over the many years working in the industry.
The first thing I always consider when taking a project on is what the people in that particular area are looking for when they are renting, or eventually buying, as even with a rental property it’s good to keep in mind that you might sell it at some point. Once you determine the family situation, the age group and the possible professions of your client profile it will be easier to come to a suitable style. However, it’s good to be quite generic and simple with your design choices, as getting overly fixated on one client profile (e.g. families) which might deter other renters (e.g. young professionals).
The don’ts of decor
The biggest mistake lots of people make when they are refurbishing an investment property is they take the project too personally. You have to be extremely detached and not let your personal style and preferences guide you but consider a tasteful, generic style, that’s clean, elegant and easy to relate to, so you may appeal to the largest group of people and your design won’t out of style quickly.
First-time landlords often get carried away and channel their creativity into their rental property, unleashing the likes of ‘fun’ purple kitchen cabinetry (even worse if it’s in high gloss as well) to more than slightly shocked renters. It’s not to say that only shades of grey and beige are allowed in an investment refurb, as having a character and a nice aesthetic will help you get it off the market quicker, but you have to be aware of current trends globally and specifically in your area and choose items that are suitable and justified for that property.
This is general style advice, however, you do need to keep the trends in your specific area in mind, so you can go more traditional or more creative depending on your location, but this should give you a good starting point if you are completely lost.
Kitchens are one of the most important things for many rentals, thus this should be your focus point when renovating and you should allocate a substantial part of the budget here. You can’t go wrong with clean lines: think of very simple flush doors in light grey on your cabinetry, a darker grey quartz worktop and matching quartz splashback. If you don’t have the budget to provide a full splashback, the very least you need to do is upstands and a splashback behind to oven, as this will help you with the maintenance as well. I would never advise going for wood or laminate in a rental, as it is indeed cheaper, but the maintenance will add up over time, as tenants may burn, scratch and damage it.
In my experience bathrooms come second on the list, and the biggest mistake people do here is that they do a little too boring, which can look cheap and underwhelming, even if the materials are actually good quality. The right attitude here is to choose a feature wall, for example behind the bath or in the shower area, which you can tile with something a little more interesting. Metro tiles or other small format, elongated shapes are very popular at the moment, and so are concrete and stone effects. Then choose more basic ranges to compliment your feature tile, this way the bathroom will look well-designed and interesting, but you can keep the cost low, as you are using a potentially cheaper material on the majority of the surfaces.
With all the other materials, just keep it very simple! Use a good quality wood floor and tiles, but nothing luxurious. Go for basic but durable ranges for doors, ironmongery, switches and sockets, as in my experience, tenants care way less about these things, so it’s a good place to introduce cost savings.
When there is no budget
There are situations when there is no budget at all. You still can do a few improvements which might save the boat:
- Unclutter: dump everything which looks outdated and unsuitable, including furniture and window dressings.
- Fix whatever can be fixed, clean and replace some elements: change silicon in the bathroom, re-paint the whole property in nice shade of off white, replace sockets and switches faces to modern ones, replace brassware and shower screens, change door handles and knobs, replace carpet to simple wood floor or laminate. If kitchen cannot be changed, consider replacing kitchen facades, worktop, and/or appliances.
- Add decorative items which will transform the place: a few art works, mirrors, a few pieces of nice furniture and accessories will freshen up the space.
The London property market is oversaturated with bad quality rental properties. Not everyone can afford new-build apartments, but the secondary property market is full of outdated apartments and houses with old kitchens, damp bathrooms and skeletons in the wardrobes. This is where you can get ahead of competition, offering beautifully refurbished place, a higher rent and less vacant period (because of course it will go quickly!), it will guarantee a higher yield and fewer headaches.