Living in a rented home need not close the doors to redecoration, says Teja Lele Desai

Doing up a home is exciting, especially when it’s your own home. But turning a rented apartment into a home isn’t easy. You need to always lend an ear to the landlord, stick to a budget and ensure that you don’t splash out on décor and accessories that can’t be used later. Although for a short while, a rented apartment is still home. What’s the best way then to give it a makeover on a budget?

Sales and discount stores are the best places to look for bargains. Furniture, wall décor and accessories can often be picked up at slashed prices.

Don’t forget to check out local kabaadi markets – this is where you can source old furniture at throwaway costs and get it refurbished.

Different chairs sourced from the antique market and upholstered in complementing fabrics can add a touch of wow to your dining table.

Online classifieds such as and offer deals on everything from furniture and paintings to refrigerators and mattresses.

Dollar stores may seem beneath you but some hunting may help salvage good crockery, glassware and kitchen utensils.

A standout DIY décor element helps create an ambience.

How about nailing a sheet of cardboard to a wall and glueing gorgeous fabric to it? Or making a family tree on a wall? Collectibles such as posters, shot glasses, bottles, ash trays, masks or beads can add appeal to a bare wall and are no-fail conversation starter.

A dead wall, be it the hallway or stairs, can be brought alive with framed family photographs, movie posters, memorabilia or an eye-catching mural.

Forget expensive paintings and wall art. Art prints and posters from online stores (try add a dash of colour and cheer.

Group mirrors of assorted sizes and shapes on a bright wall. They create a great ambience at night — be it in lamplight or candlelight.

Window dressings in bright colours, new fabrics and unexplored designs can make over a room entirely. Try floor-to-ceiling drapes, sheers, valances, blinds or chiks.

If you’re putting up shelves, consider painting them a bright colour.

Or else tack the back of closed book shelves with bold print wallpaper or bright fabric for a customised look.

An old book case or table can be painted in a subtle pastel colour. Try your hand at decoupage and you will have a unique piece.

Old furniture looks brand new with a glossy layer of paint, old window and door frames make wonderful headboards or tables, and old shutters can be sanded and refinished for a completely new look. Old metal pails, watering cans, trashcans and wheelbarrows can be painted in bright colours and used as planters.

Since storage may be a problem, opt for double-duty furniture – box beds, coffee tables and ottomans with storage options, entertainment units with drawers, and hollow poufs.

The last word: A swap party with like-minded friends lets you exchange and get new stuff at zero cost.