Jul 2, 2015

Style file

Letting a property needn’t mean magnolia walls and beige carpets. Interior architect Lisa Ryde shows you how to make your property an object of desire

There are an increasing number of professionals who enjoy the freedom of renting, are used to moving areas for work and aren’t ready for the responsibility of buying a property yet. These ‘lifestyle tenants’ are discerning when it comes to the properties they choose and they are prepared to pay.


Landlords are discovering that by presenting a property in the right way, it can as much as double the weekly letting value. Interior architect Lisa Ryde has some simple suggestions how you can achieve the maximum letting value.



Neutral schemes are still a winning formula. They help the property to look crisp, clean and welcoming. They are also unlikely to clash with any furniture your tenants intend to bring. However, neutral doesn’t mean bland and boring and magnolia paint isn’t going to excite the lifestyle tenant. Instead Lisa suggests warm greys. “Layer the colour to give the room substance,” she says, “what I mean by this is use the same tone but in different depths of colour. Warm grey is in fashion at the moment and it’s an elegant, timeless colour that you won’t be rushing to paint over.”


Lisa also notes that landlords who paint their property white to make it look bigger are missing a trick. “Layering with the same tone achieves the same affect but it adds personality where white doesn’t. The only room that benefits from being white is the bathroom to match the suite and keep it looking sanitary.”


Keeping the same colour scheme throughout will create a sense of harmony. In addition, good lighting and well-placed mirrors will bounce light around and create a desirable sense of space.


Home comforts

Tenants aspire to a home that is both stylish and practical and Lisa specialises in making the best use of internal space. “An individual area for a washing machine and separate tumble dryer is a must, even if it is simply a cupboard off the hallway. People dislike the noise they generate in a kitchen where they are often cooking, eating and entertaining. An open-plan kitchen with breakfast bar is the most requested feature I receive because people love to use the kitchen for socialising.”



Lack of storage space can be a deal breaker for many tenants. If space is tight and you don’t want to make a feature of the joinery, Lisa advises floor to ceiling concealed cupboards. “It’s easier than you think. Paint the floor to ceiling doors the same colour as the walls or use mirrored doors. It’s an instant ‘wow factor’ for potential tenants.” Another simple but effective idea is a heated towel rail in the bathroom. Comfort and convenience are the watchwords of the lifestyle tenant.



While you want the tenants to feel at home, it is after all, only a temporary home so your fixtures and fittings will have to stand the test of time. Make sure the materials you choose are durable and will look their best for as long as possible. Lisa advises wood floors rather than carpets and recommends porcelain tiles rather than marble. “They are easier to maintain, easier to clean, very hardwearing and stylish,” she says.


Bathrooms can be a problem area, no matter how well your tenants look after them. Limescale is a persistent issue in London because of the hard water. “I would avoid shower cubicles with a sliding door and metal fittings. Instead have a walk-in shower with a glass screen.” Lisa also advises fitting a mechanical extraction fan to avoid condensation and mould growth.



Finishing touches

“Ultimately, tenants are looking for a well laid-out space that is functional, neutrally finished to a high standard that they can personalise,” says Lisa. The icing on the cake will be the sleek design ideas. “Pull-out bins in the kitchen with a separate area for recycling for example, shows you’ve thought about their lifestyle and how they will use the space. These things are really appreciated,” she says. In a similar way, Lisa suggests eliminating clutter by having a built-in washing-up liquid dispenser and a boiling water tap. Finishing touches such as these can make all the difference. If the property is somewhere people aspire to live in then the greater the likelihood that your tenants will pay more to live there, rent it for longer and take care of it as if it was their own.


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