What Happens When Your Landlord Lets You Decorate Your Rental? This!
With the many options for upwardly mobile individuals who are still starting out, owners of rental condo units dress them up before they put them up for lease. Condo units for rent can be classified into various categories: type (studio, 1BR, 2BR, and 3BR); duration that can either be long and short term lease to identify the length of stay; and inclusions, which can be bare, semi-furnished, and fully-furnished. Some owners would bestow freedom to the renter to decorate and to change the unit up to a certain extent, while there are those who are more lenient. In Mariel Bitanga’s case, the odds are in her favor.
“With rentals, you can’t do so much construction. But then, I just wanted someone to help me make it my own, even if it’s not really mine,” shares Mariel. She adds that she couldn’t really do any decorating at her previous condo because her landlord was strict. “With my new landlord, happy siya with how the unit turned out. Ang swerte kasi kilala ng boyfriend ko ‘yong owner,” she adds.
Mariel sought the help of Erika Go of Elementary Design Group, whose portfolio she found on Instagram. “I’ve been following her on Instagram. I like her style and tagline—Bringing ‘Luxe for Less’ into your home. Maximize rentals—so, she’s the first person I reached out to,” Mariel shares. In two weeks, the 38sqm rental unit was decorated (design phase, sourcing of furniture and accessories, and actual furnishing included) on a budget. The result is a chic and cozy condo unit for Mariel and her cats, Brody and Chloe.
“It was difficult at first because you had to make sure that the space still looks great without changing too much with the structure, especially because it’s a rental. We also had to keep costs super low because we are working on a budget,” shares Erika.
Although there weren’t any structural edits in the unit—one of the condo owners doesn’t want anything built or removed, even holes on the walls are a no-no—the strategic layout of furniture pieces in the condo creates a visual separation among the areas of the unit. With the layout kept open, one easily gets a hint on Mariel’s lifestyle and interests.
Upon entry, a modest foyer greets guests with a potted orchid and a dish of psychedelic crystals which Mariel got into when her officemate introduced crystals to her five years ago. The designer, Erika, took inspiration from those crystals, particularly the pink quartz crystals, and came up with the color palette for the rental unit, with pink and gold as the accent colors against the white, gray and light wood base. The light and easy palette, reminiscent of Scandinavian design style, gives a chic, clean, and cozy ambiance in Mariel’s rental condo.
A spacious vanity area, one that Mariel requested, is custom-made by a furniture maker she and Erika found on Instagram. On either side of the vanity are storage units that according to Mariel are non-negotiables because she has a lot of files from her sales work, books to read, and other knick knacks including her pets’ things.
Behind the vanity is the kitchen and dining area adjacent to the living area, making a humble entertaining space for when Mariel has guests over. “I’m always on-the-go. My days aren’t always the same because I don’t have a strict nine-to-five job. I’m in sales, so palipat-lipat throughout the day. I want to stay home as much as possible, so I wanted to have a place that I would actually want to be in, where I feel good and without stress,” shares Mariel.
An area rug helps define the living space with a geometric pattern in varying shades of gray. The two-seater gray couch ties the composition together. An artwork hanging above anchors the space and renders a touch of modern sophistication.
At the sleeping area, a DIY chandelier hangs above the gray tufted bed that came with the rental condo. “This chandelier was from the hardware. We simply spray-painted it with gold to match the space’s design style,” Erika spills, and adds that she and Mariel couldn’t find the perfect gold chandelier that fits their budget, so they opted to do it themselves. The chandelier is an interesting piece that makes the space a bit more Mariel’s and no longer the landlord’s.
And even though the bed is already existing when Mariel rented the condo, the new set of beddings gives more personality and coziness to the space. According to the designer, a high-quality set of beddings is a good investment and is a must-have to experience the comfort of your own space better.
A bedside table on the side is also an expression of Mariel’s love for feminine elegance, with its marble-and-gold combination. Aside from flowers and plants that filter the unit’s air, scented candles throughout the rental unit also gives a cozy and relaxing vibe. The good balance between cool and warm lighting also adds to the overall look of the rental condo, which makes it more of a real home rather than a rented dwelling.