Interior designer Anna Cuthbert is one of Auckland’s most coveted creative experts who has been transforming spaces for decades. With her firm, Cuthbert Interiors, recently celebrating forty years, she is an obvious expert on how to make your temporary space feel like home immediately.
During an interview with her, she shared the following tips on how you can make a space your own when you can’t put down permanent roots.
What are some common decorative challenges that renters face that are specific to Auckland?
Some properties have very dated interiors. Things like ancient wallpaper and antiquated fixtures can make it challenging to integrate your belongings. Always keep the colour scheme of things you already own in mind when considering a rental property. Don’t be afraid to walk away if your stuff just doesn’t fit as nobody wants to buy all new things for a space they will be in temporarily.
Do you have any suggestions about the intense sun?
The New Zealand sun can be brutal on fabrics and carpets and can also heat up rooms until they are uncomfortably warm. There are tons of options in standardised roller blinds from affordable retailers that will only require two small screws to install. This is a cheap option to block out those rays. Remember to get permission before you make any holes!
What are some apartment design solutions that may be under the radar for renters?
When you first bring in your furniture – move things around to see what works best in your new space. Just because it was laid out one way in your previous flat, doesn’t mean it has to be the same in your new place. Removable wallpaper and decals can be easily installed and removed when it’s time to go. There are tonnes of new hanging mechanisms such as non-damaging adhesive hooks that will support your artwork and not hurt the walls.
What are some tips to make rental spaces more interesting?
Life is too short to be boring! Don’t be afraid to mix colours, textures, fabrics and patterns in a single room. Want to make walls look higher? Hang your artwork vertically. Want to make them look wider? Hang stuff horizontally. A good way to make windows look bigger is to hang curtains above the architrave. Don’t be afraid to ask your landlord about painting. You may have to pay for it yourself, but often owners will keep an open mind with reasonable requests.
When shopping for furniture, what do you suggest?
People are staying in the rental market longer due to rising home and flat purchase prices. If you know that you will be in a rental for years as you save don’t buy bulky pieces. What may fit in your first place may be oversized and awkward in your next place. You can always add side tables, ottomans, chairs and such for more surface area but there is little you can do to deal with something like a massive sofa. Remember at some point your furniture may need to fit into a lift or through narrow doorways. Size does matter so measure before purchasing!
Any current trends on your radar?
I see decor moving away from blues and greens and into more corals, apricots and pinks. Happy colours, I call them!
This article was written for Her World by the team at Barfoot & Thompson.
If you’re on the hunt for a new home or just need a few questions answered about the house-buying process, be sure to contact Mark below who will be happy to help.