Sarah Sham, Kavya Sheth and Manasvi Bachhav on how to decorate your rental apartment

The number of millennials residing in rentals is on the rise, alongside couples in their late 30s and 40s grappling with the affordability of family homes. Interior designers Sarah Sham of Essajees Atelier, Kavya Sheth of Studio Ruh, and Manasvi Bachhav of The Architecture Company believe you must decorate these homes, even if you can’t call them your own. Below are some decorating tips on how to personalise your rental apartment –

Paint, Wallpaper, and Panelling

The quickest way to create impact on a budget is to paint. Large rooms are best suited to lighter tones, while deep colours bring small rooms to life. It is essential to factor in natural light entering the space and the room’s orientation (north, south, east, or west-facing) to pick the right shade of paint. “From personal experience, most landlords offer the option to have your home freshly painted before moving in, so a great hack is specifying the shade before moving in,” Sarah shares.

Walnut-stained wainscoting creates a luxurious and textured backdrop to the dining area of this rental property, designed by TAC.

Yadnyesh Joshi

Patterned wallpaper in a nursery by Essajees Atelier.

Talib Chitalwala

Sticking to neutral shades is often the best way to keep landlords happy, and they provide a flexible backdrop for all your real investments — things you can take with you when you move. Kavya recommends using bright paint, patterned wallpaper, or modular MDF panelling on accent walls. “Fluted wall claddings elevate walls instantly. Easy to polish or paint, they can go full height or as wainscoting,” Manasvi adds.


Ugly flooring is a common issue with rentals. “SPC flooring (luxury vinyl planks) is a great fix. Effortlessly installed over existing flooring, within a few thousand rupees, they give the space a modern appeal,” Sarah advises. All three designers unanimously agree that good quality rugs and carpets are investments renters must not shy away from. Rugs anchor a space, define areas, and add texture and warmth while camouflaging scratched or shabby flooring. Sisal and jute rugs are an excellent option for those on a shoestring budget.

This beautiful round rug lends a mid-century vibe to this living room designed by TAC.

Yadnyesh Joshi

Layered Lighting

“When choosing a rental apartment, prioritise large windows and balconies to allow abundant natural light in your home,” Sarah recommends. Kavya adds, “A great hack to enhance the feeling of space is open-plan layouts and the clever placement of mirrors to reflect light, volumes, and greenery.”

Most landlords neglect artificial lighting. Lighting is the ideal starting point to enhance your rental. Think of lighting in layers, where balancing and adjusting light intensities can create magic in a room. Directional downlights enhance art, while floor and reading lamps glow softly. Pendants work wonders above kitchen islands, and in bedrooms, dimmable lighting facilitates both productivity and winding down routines. “Wall sconces can be used as bedside lamps, above a piece of art, or consoles,” Manasvi says.


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