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The ultimate guide to decorating rental homes – Part 2

  • Ideas & Inspiration
May 13, 2024
Dining room design – Beautiful Homes

Discover top tips and clever hacks for styling inviting dining rooms and cosy bedrooms with Purva Agrawal in the second part of this series

Welcome to the second instalment of our ultimate guide to styling rental homes where we focus on the two areas with the most potential to personalise and decorate: dining rooms and bedrooms. These spaces offer plenty of opportunities to get creative, so join us as we explore simple ways to revamp and refresh these spaces to make them feel like your own.


When it comes to dining rooms, you don’t have to settle for the landlord’s bulky, hand-me-down sets from the ’90s—or worse, let the space go unused. Whether you’re carving out a sweet breakfast nook in a compact living room or transforming the dining area into the heart of your home, there are many ways to make it all functional and fabulous. Also learn to say goodbye to that Goldilocks dilemma you face when leased properties still feel like “someone else’s space” with a roadmap that will help you get more than the bed “just right”. 


So grab a seat, the class is in session as Purva Agrawal of Mumbai-based design studio Attirail returns to help us put all the theory we learned in Part 1 into practice by showing us around some of her more successful transformations of dining rooms and bedrooms in rental homes.



Often overlooked in the rush to set up living and bedroom areas, dining rooms in rental homes can become neglected corners with dining tables doubling as “open” storage or makeshift workspaces, used for everything except dining. From infusing patterns and optimising lighting to maximising storage and refurbishing furniture, Purva shows you how to breathe new life into tired settings.


Table Manners

If your rental comes with a dining table, consider seeking permission to spruce it up. While Purva does recommend stowing away any pieces you don’t like, keep in mind that both storage and purchasing a new dining set may significantly impact your budget. Refurbishment offers a cost-effective way to breathe new life into old pieces. Purva offers an example of adding rattan backs to existing wooden chairs for her signature “boho” touch or swapping staid upholstery for fabrics featuring dainty floral or bold geometric patterns to suit your design sensibilities. There are also many ways to revamp stocky, solid wood tables—from varnish, polish, PU and spray paint to simply bleaching the wood for a distressed finish.

Maximise Storage

In rental homes where space is often at a premium, effective storage solutions are essential. Purva recommends multifunctional furniture pieces such as sideboards or credenzas with built-in shelves or drawers. Utilise vertical space by installing floating shelves or wall-mounted cabinets to display decorative items, store dining essentials or create an attractive bar. Additionally, invest in stylish storage baskets or bins for see-through cabinets to keep clutter at bay and maintain a clean, organized look.


In smaller homes, Purva also emphasises the practicality of incorporating bench seating in dining areas. Adding a bench not only provides extra seating but also minimizes obstructions when it slides under the table, for a more open and spacious feel. You can also opt for folding chairs and dining tables that expand or contract based on the number of guests.

Display unit in dining room design – Beautiful Homes

Simple, light-weight shelving units in white blend seamlessly into the walls around the dining table. On display are plenty of colourful books, framed art, décor objects and memorabilia, to complement the bleached wood table and patterned bench and dining chairs.

Strategic Lighting

Very often “dining areas” that are part of the living room are simply odd L-shaped corners, away from any windows and natural light. They probably feature the same set of ceiling lights as the rest of the living room and a ceiling fan meant to be positioned directly above the dining table. An easy way to perk up a rental living room is by banishing any dark corners. By adding additional lighting points and modifying existing fixtures like installing track lights or hanging lights, you can transform dim spaces into well-lit, inviting corners; contributing to an overall brighter atmosphere in the home. In areas where fans cannot be removed, corner pendant lights or table lamps on a console can be added to provide adequate lighting.

Wooden cabinet in dining room design – Beautiful Homes

A dated solid wood cabinet is given a new lease of life with a coat of white spray paint and new hardware, set against an eye-catching arch-shaped mural in yellow.

Colour, Texture and Pattern Play

Agrawal advocates the use of colour, pattern and texture to add visual interest and depth to dining spaces. Introducing these elements through upholstery for chairs or benches, table linen, or wall decor can help break the monotony. Purva suggests using removable wallpaper or wall decals to add visual interest without leaving a permanent mark.


Alternatively, experiment with colourful textiles such as tablecloths, runners, or seat cushions to introduce personality and warmth. Don’t overlook the power of tabletop décor, such as vases, candle holders, or sculptural objects, to enhance the overall aesthetic of the space. Incorporating natural textures like rattan or jute through light fixtures or décor accents can also bring a touch of organic charm to the space.



Designing a rental bedroom isn’t just about aesthetics; it’s about shaking off the sense of not belonging from the get-go and creating a space that feels distinctly yours. It’s about transforming it into a place where you’re at ease, with every element reflecting your personality, making it home regardless of the duration of your lease. Purva takes us through her favourite bedrooms to inspire dreamy makeovers.

Wonder Walls

Working within the constraints of a rental home often means being mindful of permanent changes to the walls. While wallpapers still reign supreme in rental home makeovers, Purva takes us through some creative ways to add visual interest without the need for extensive renovations—prefabricated panels, PVC mouldings, flexi-ply, gypsum boards and cement sheets are all great ways to add depth to otherwise dull walls.


For a Jaipur-inspired bedroom, Purva cleverly saved money by using a single roll of an expensive wallpaper. Instead of covering the entire wall, she placed it inside a dark blue moulding against the room’s powder blue walls.


To overcome the challenge of water seepage in another rental apartment, Purva installed a waterproof cement sheet over the affected area and opted for texture painting for a faux concrete finish. She says a great hack to avoid the costly, labour-intensive process of priming and sanding for an entire paint job is to incorporate hand-painted textured accent walls through services offered by brands like Asian Paints.

Light wallpaper in bedroom ideas – Beautiful Homes

Purva extended the colour scheme from the wallpaper to the light wood bed, mismatched side tables and embroidered bed linen a boho-chic aesthetic.

Wardrobe Wizardry

Whether your rental comes with an in-built wardrobe or you bring along a freestanding cupboard, chances are that it’ll be the largest piece of furniture in the room, besides the bed. For short-term leases, Purva usually recommends modular options that are well finished, with doors in a variety of styles and colours, which need little other than a change of hardware for a quick makeover.


In one of her earliest wardrobe transformations, Purva managed to get remarkable results by retaining the existing laminate on a huge wall-to-wall cupboards in under Rs. 25,000. Ready-made PVC mouldings, mirrors, cane accents and gold handles were simply pasted on top of the existing design for depth and texture. For larger pieces of furniture, Purva saves costs by opting for spray painting with products like Asian Paints Royale Lustre.


Pro tip: She sources unique door knobs, handles, hooks and pulls from websites like Indian Shelf and Spruce & Pop.


Highlight wall in bedroom ideas – Beautiful Homes

A scalloped pelmet made out of plywood to complement the room’s sponge-painted highlight wall is a whimsical addition to this cosy, nature lover’s bedroom. Block-printed cotton blinds are paired with sheer curtains to make the most of the natural daylight.

Break that Set

To spruce up a rental bedroom, Purva also recommends breaking up the engineered, coordinated furniture sets, typically included in rental agreements.


While many clients prefer to retain beds due to their size and cost, Purva often suggests reupholstering or swapping the headboard for a fresh look. In one instance, a client had rented all his bedroom furniture from Furlenco, but Purva felt it lacked personality. To remedy this, she devised a removable fabric and plywood headboard with a hollow centre that could easily slip over the existing headboard.

Curtain Call

While you may be able to repurpose throws, cushions and even upholstered furniture when you move houses, curtains are tricky when it comes to reuse. Purva says no two windows are alike and without any standard measurements in most Indian homes, it’s best to opt for affordable plain curtains and get creative by adding borders or mixing prints.



In the concluding part of our series on designing rental homes, Purva shows us how to transform multifunctional rooms for working, hosting guests and growing children. Plus, she'll offer advice on when to save and when to splurge on your makeover journey.

Dining room design – Beautiful Homes
Cosmetic fixes such as the addition of an archway, a sliding door entrance to the kitchen, patterned wallpaper, corner pendant lamps as well as reupholstering dining chairs are simple to do.
Focus wall in dining room design – Beautiful Homes
At a Mumbai home for a young set of roommates, a collection of coffee mugs collected from Starbucks locations around the world is used to create an accent wall by the dining table, an unexpected conversation starter.
Vanity design in bedroom ideas – Beautiful Homes
The boxy, built-in vanity was fitted with flexi-ply and packed to create an arch. An arched mirror was installed, while the vanity drawer and cupboard were retained and spruced with the addition of rattan sheets and new handles.
Wardrobe design in bedroom ideas – Beautiful Homes
The bulky old-school wall-to-wall wardrobe is given a cheap and chic facelift with the installation of rattan sheets and mirrors over the existing laminate.

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