Designer Lauren Li of Sisällä knows firsthand the challenge of making a rental property feel like a home.
Lauren’s own family home is a rented mid-century house that she moved in to with her husband and three children in late 2022. Since then, they’ve made the home feel personalised and gorgeous through clever styling and a few simple cosmetic updates (done with landlord’s permission!).
Lauren shares how she did it, and reveals her top styling tips for fellow renters, parents, and mid-century home dwellers!
Introduce warmth and colour through rugs
Most Australian residential renters are generally unable to make major property updates (unless you have a really flexible landlord!).
With that in mind, one of the most impactful ways to update a living space, bedroom, or hallway is to introduce a generous rug.
Lauren’s house features floorboards in almost every room, so she’s layered her space with rugs that offer visual interest and added warmth (essential for Melbourne winters — especially in a rental property!).
‘Mid-century houses have large windows and open plan spaces, which means that bold patterns work well without feeling overwhelming,’ says Lauren.
Stripes and check patterns work particularly well in mid-century homes, echoing the repeating architectural lines so often seen in these spaces. Lauren’s home features Double’s Plinth rug in Brown; Stack rug in Black & Brown; Agency in Brown; and Unboxed in Yellow.
‘There is a sense of airiness that allows the patterns to “breathe” in the room, and right now I’m drawn to stripes. They add a graphic element to a room that lifts it and feels uplifting but not overwhelming,’ says Lauren. The colours of these rugs also tie in with the original tonal and brown interiors of the home.
Stripes are an easy pattern to work with and build on with contrasting textiles, colours, and shapes. Lauren has balanced her home’s many geometric features (concrete block walls, rectangular shelving, timber wall panelling) with relaxed, plush seating options and a circular coffee table.
‘I love using a combination of colours and textures in cushions: soft fluffy wool and bubbly boucle. A sheepskin rug or two is always a good idea over the sofa seat, especially with a young family,’ she says.
Let there be light
Lauren is a big advocate for making easily-reversible changes to a rental property, such as switching out light fittings.
In her own home, she’s replaced the existing pendant lights with those more in her style, while adding floor and table lamps throughout for ambience.
‘The volume and light of this mid-century house with its large windows is beautiful during the day, however, in the evening, it can lack that cosy feeling,’ says Lauren.
‘We replaced the pendant lights with two cylindrical lanterns by Audo from our store, The Apartment, that fills the volume of the pitched ceiling well. We also use a floor lamp next to an armchair, which is great when we’re watching tv with the other lights off.’
Kid-proofing with style
Family homes are hardworking spaces, and need to be styled with this in mind.
Every parent knows it pays to be strategic with how you style the more valuable or sentimental pieces in your home. Placing breakables in hard to reach places (away from little hands!) is a no-brainer. If you’re blessed with lots of in-built shelving like Lauren, decide on a consistent height above which fragile pieces such as ceramics and glassware can be placed. On the lower shelves, stick with books and magazines. As long as you keep this height demarcation consistent throughout the room, it will feel cohesive.
Items like kids rugs get plenty of wear, so opt for one that is patterned to hide marks, and ideally, machine washable! The upper layer of all Double rugs is easily removed, allowing them to be washed in almost all home machines.
‘I want to LIVE in my home — it’s not a showroom — so it takes the pressure off when I can just throw the rug in the washing machine.’ Lauren says.
‘They are great for the spaces that get a lot of wear and tear and also for the kids room. I don’t want to stress out about them playing with slime and glitter in their room, so if something gets on the rug, it’s not a huge drama.’
A home should reflect the people who live there, so don’t be afraid to show some personality!
Lauren says the secret to a great family home in particular is a balance of ‘nice things’ and those not too precious.
‘I like the family to use the space, and you’ll most often find a pack of Uno cards on the coffee table rather than a lovely scented candle and stylish stack of books,’ she says.
‘It’s the season of life that we’re in right now, and I want the family to feel like they can have their things in the space too — even if it means their doll is sitting on my favourite chair!’
Shop Double’s Checks + Stripes collection launching online Monday July 10. See Double’s full range of machine washable rugs here.