#HOWIRENT: Video Home Tour of A Colourful Rental In South West London

Ok, deep breath in Medina.

And out… out!! Breathe out woman!


Today is the launch of my new Renters Home Tour series and I’m just so freaking excited (can you tell?)!!  It’s been a long time coming, I’ll admit. The idea for this series has been brewing at the back of my mind for what seems like an eternity. And now finally,  I get to watch on proudly, as it all comes to life!


I have always been quite vocal about the fact that I rent.  But its only recently, that I’ve begun to talk a little more openly about all the pressures I feel as as a result of that.  The embarrassment and shame of not being able to afford my own home. The anxiety of never feeling settled – like at any moment the rug could be pulled out from under my feet. The challenges of decorating within the landlords restrictions and trying to figure out how much of my own investment , was too much?  

Can you relate? 

Here in the UK, we are just a tad bit obsessed with owning our own homes… ( on reflection, maybe thats where all that perceived pressure comes from). Getting on to the  property ladder in this country is everything. Its seen as a sort of  right of passage to a higher status in life. And a natural expectation, once you’ve found yourself a decent paying job.

But what do you do if you are struggling to save for an ever increasing deposit and have no choice other than to rent?

You make the most if it, that’s what.

And that’s really what this #howirent series is all about. 

A celebration of all the amazing renters out there who have , in spite of all the usual  renting constraints, managed to transform their homes into abodes of personality and style.

I really hope you enjoy! CLICK HERE FOR EPISODE 2

[Photography by Kasia Fiszer]



Well, I’ve kept you guessing long enough, so without further ado, let me introduce you to this months guest.

Emma Jane Palin!


Emma jane palin sitting on a dining bench with her dog george for this colourful rental home tour

Emma and her dog George

Emma is an interiors blogger and freelance writer based in London.  She loves all things colourful, ‘and anything with a good pattern’. Her stylish blog and Instagram account are the perfect visual examples of her passion for  design, interiors and culture.

Our paths first crossed at the  2017 Amara Interior Blog Awards – which saw Emma pick up not one, but two awards! (Side note: surprisingly we only really met in real life late last year – until that point we had always managed to miss each other at blogging events. Bizarre I know, but that didn’t keep us from chatting away on good old Instagram).

Emma sittting at her dining room table and typing on her laptop for this colourful rental home tour


I was so pleased when she agreed to come on board as a guest for this series because I really enjoy Emma’s  eye for design. Her home is a gorgeous eclectic mix of bohemian and  mid century style.  I also love how she has effortlessly managed to inject so much character into it, by simply using colourful accessories and  well placed  furniture

But enough talking from me. Let me just show you.

Passing the mic now….






Where do you live?

I live in South West London in a little place we like to call ‘The Earlsfield Loft’. I live there with my partner Joshua and our Mexican Hotdog (chihuahua cross miniature dachshund), George.


A colourful rental tour : Pink sofa in the living room

Emmas home kitchen and living room is open planned.


Earlsfield is full of independent cafes, restaurants and shops – it’s a lovely hidden part of London with lots of greenery and a great community. It’s just two stops away from Waterloo so super easy to get into town.

A colourful rental : view of the kitchen from the living room

This sofa is part of the West Elm small space living collection


A colourful rental : smeg fridge in open plan kitchen

 How long have you lived in this house?

It’s just coming up to two years. Two years in April.

A colourful rental : colour coded book shelf in the living room



A colourful rental : up close picture of colour coded book shelf in the living room

Was there a particular feature that drew you to this property when you first saw it? What made you want to rent it?

The fact it wasn’t magnolia was a pretty big seller.

Honestly, finding a place in London that isn’t magnolia with brown carpets is like finding a four-leaf clover.


A colourful rental : view of the living room from the kitchen

We were looking for about three weeks before we found this place and thankfully they agreed that a pooch was okay.

I found it after telling my step mum that a roll-top bath would be the dream. Lo and behold, that on my way back to London, this place had just been listed with its, wait for it, roll-top bath. I couldn’t believe it.


A colourful rental : shelves in the living room displaying art


I emailed immediately and we went to view it the next day. We had to wait for a week after saying we wanted it as so many others also went for it. I was a mess for the whole week as I knew I had to live here.


A colourful rental : up close look at helves in the living room displaying art



The bathroom was, and still is, my favourite place to chill.


A colourful rental :bathroom with dark tiled grout and black painted walls

I can see you have painted your walls Do you have an agreement with your landlord  – if not, how do you work around it?

Yes, we asked our landlord if we could paint the walls. This was our landlord’s first home before they fell pregnant so they had done a good job of decorating it. However, the bedroom walls were dark blue and after a winter living with them, we just couldn’t handle the darkness.


Emmas bedroom



I asked if we could paint it, gave them a colour idea, and they said to go for it. I think it’s a good idea to pitch to your landlord with colours etc so they don’t expect the worst. If they know you’re clued up, they won’t worry about it.


This wooden bed Frame is from IKEA UK

 Do you have a favourite room in your home?

That’s a tough one as I love them all for different reasons. The bathroom is definitely where I feel most relaxed – nothing beats a book in the bath – but the bedroom is a haven. I’ve always said that I’ll take the bedroom interior with me wherever I go. It’s so fresh and encapsulates my personality perfectly.


A colourful rental: A corner view of a bed and dresser with art, mirrors and plants


 How would you describe your style to anyone who asked?

It’s a mix of bohemian and mid-century. I occasionally describe it as ‘geometric bohemian’ as I like structured shapes. I have a lot of different influences so it’s sometimes hard to make a look cohesive, but I think that we normally get there.


A colourful rental: A corner view of a bed and dresser with art, mirrors and plants

Emmas Mini office space in her hallway area

I’m no Marie Kondo; there’s definitely a lot of organised clutter with a lot of things that bring me joy.

I think a lot of people would assume my home would be super colourful but they’re actually wrong here. I’m a fan of colourful things but not necessarily bright colours on the wall.

A colourful rental: Colorful desk accessories

Do you have any top tips for renters living in a flat?

Always be frank with your landlord.

  • Explaining the benefits for both parties is sure to give you some leverage to paint.

  • If you really can’t make changes, work with the colour palettes you have.

  • Layer rugs, incorporate textures and add personality via vintage items and accessories.

  • Lean big artwork against walls or use command strips for hanging smaller pieces.

  • It’s about making a house comfortable for you to come home to, so don’t tap into trends easily and always be true to your core style.

A colourful rental: Colorful desk accessories in a small space office area

What is the one thing you love about renting?

You don’t have to worry about things like the boiler breaking, leaks or appliances breaking. It’s all handled by someone else!

What is the one thing you dislike about renting?

The fact that you have to go through someone else to decorate. You can’t just rip out a kitchen or a bathroom. We’ve lucked out with both in our current home, but there have been other places I’ve lived where both have been absolute eyesores.

A colourful rental: Marshall radio on the second shelf of west elm desk


My advice to all landlords would just be to go with plain white tiling and white cupboards if putting in a new kitchen or bathroom. Timeless and still stylish for any potential tenants. P.S If you are a landlord and you’re reading this, get rid of all of your magnolia now – we’re not in the 80s and it didn’t look good then either.


A colourful rental: Open plan kitchen shelving styled with cups, plants and books

 Do you have a go to brand for decorating your home?

I have a few! West elm is probably my favourite for furnishings. When you’re living in unfurnished, I think it’s good to invest in furniture that will last you through to your first owned home. I don’t really believe in buying cheap disposable furniture.


A colourful rental: A side view of an small space office desk

I’d never dream of parting with any of my pieces from west elm. To balance it out, I’ve paired the more expensive items with lots of vintage and charity shop items. Your local charity shop is absolutely your friend!


A colourful rental: potted plants on kitchen countertops

My go-to paint brand is Earthborn. I’m an ambassador for them this year as I’ve used them so much in our home. They are eco-friendly which is a huge driver for me and they don’t stink out the house.

A colourful rental: leopard print behind mirror above black fireplace

For accessories I always head to my favourite homeware store in London, W.A.Green. It’s a fusion of all things eclectic and I love the fashion references – there’s lots of Bella Freud and Preen as well as more affordable brands sought from the USA.


So what do you think of Emma’s Home? I would love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below!


Click on this image below to save this colourful Rental Home Tour to Pinterest

A colourful rental: Pinterest image





If you liked this colourful rental home tour, you might also like these other interior makeovers!

How I rent : Episode 2




Stairs Makeover | Grillo Designs


Filed under Home & Garden, How I Rent, Interiors, Popular Posts

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  1. Rae

    I love all of the framed prints and the prints mixed in with Washi tape! This home has such personality! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Kimberly Williams

    Is there any way to find out where the fabric cactus can be bought. Love it!

  3. Anonymous

    Love this! Such a great idea. It would be good to get a sense of how much they pay for their rentals as well.

  4. This is absolutely fabulous! I love how fierce Emma’s style is and how much of her personality just shines through in her decor. I can’t wait to see what they do with their new place! And more of these please! Love this series! xx

  5. Irene Caird

    I rather enjoyed this, loved the different little details and the different art work. I’ll be borrowing a few ideas ?

  6. I love so many things in this home I don’t know where to start. The colour on the bedroom wall is actually my favourite combination at the moment pale pink and orange. So many interesting things to look at, love all the prints and nick nacks.