Empty rooms can look a bit sad, and there are plenty of uninviting photographs out there of vacant buy-to-lets. It's a constant challenge for landlords and letting agents when the demand from tenants is for unfurnished property, but when homes never look their best when they're empty. With no comfy couches or well-dressed beds to draw someone's attention, your property needs to work harder to secure the best tenant and the highest rent.
The good news is that with surprisingly little time and expense, you can turn empty rooms into welcoming spaces without buying any furniture. By giving your buy-to-let a few clever styling touches, you can improve its visibility, increase its popularity and maximise its income and performance. More than that, by reducing the potential for wear and tear and keeping your tenants for longer, you'll minimise changeovers, void periods and tedious admin. Whether you're in the middle of a purchase, halfway through renovating or simply between tenancies, follow our tips to give your empty buy-to-let all it needs to stand head and shoulders above the competition.
If you're a landlord with a rental property in Southampton, we're here to help you get it looking the part. Call for a chat on 02380 987610 or send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org for some expert input.
As well as leaving everyone looking positively ill, cold lighting makes rooms look about as luxurious as a hospital corridor, but it's incredibly cheap to put right. Early energy-saving spiral bulbs are prime culprits with their blue-tinged fluorescent glare, but newer LEDs with a high CRI score (Colour Rendering Index) emit a natural-looking light as if coming from the sun. The bulbs are readily available at IKEA, Amazon and DIY stores, and they make a massive difference to a potential tenant's viewing experience.
You could even go one step further in living rooms or bedrooms with vintage-looking bulbs where the yellow filaments cast a cosy, soft and flattering glow. In the mood for an easy luxury upgrade? Because of their height at waist or shoulder level, light switches are an unmissable feature on walls: replacing standard white plastic casings with brushed steel designer faceplates is an easy job with a sleek and stylish impact.
GET A HANDLE ON THINGS
Whenever someone opens a door or a cupboard, the handle is a tactile and visual reminder of sophisticated accessorising or, as the case may be, not. Having cheap-looking and feeling door handles detracts from any home's appearance, but it's easy to turn a negative impression into a positive one. In older homes, lovely Victorian beehive or porcelain knobs make great close-up shots and talking points on viewings, while modern brushed steel handles deal a welcome blow to brass-effect offenders from the 80s and 90s.
Kitchen cupboards also get an instant lift with new hardware, and you'll find a whole world of knobs, bar handles and flush-mounted pulls in every style and finish that will easily cover any previous holes and look super-smart into the bargain. Bonus points for metal hooks, not just for coats and scarves in the hall, but for towels and robes in the bathroom and mops and brooms in the kitchen. They look a whole lot better and last a whole lot longer than plastic stick-ons, and there'll be no more ugly ovals of gluey residue on your doors or tiles!
TREAT YOUR WINDOWS
One of the most effective ways to enhance an empty room is to style the windows. As well as looking great in photos and on viewings, wooden Venetian blinds are available in models to suit every price range and are popular among tenants. Choose a light to medium oak finish to flatter any interior style and decoration.
Whether it's sunlight filtering through the open slats and casting cinematic shadows, or the warmth of natural timber when they're closed at night, wooden blinds look great in both modern and traditional homes. And because they work in every room, from living spaces and bedrooms to kitchens and bathrooms, they provide a stylish continuity that suggests a professional landlord who knows what's important to tenants. Blinds are also a smart purchase. By having permanent window treatments, you'll remove the need for every subsequent tenant to drill new holes for their blinds or curtain poles, meaning your walls and woodwork will take less of a beating.
FIND A PLACE TO SHINE
Reflective surfaces increase natural light levels and help rooms to feel larger, cleaner and more luxurious. When taps and showerheads lose their sparkle, they drag everything down with them, making bathrooms and kitchens look dowdy, even when the other fittings are perfectly fine.
Sometimes it's a simple matter of good old elbow grease with some vinegar and water; otherwise, find good-quality replacements and watch their gleaming metal catch the light and elevate the surroundings, causing your viewers to cry out: "Ooh, nice taps!" Staying in the bathroom, a mirrored stainless-steel cabinet above the basin is both practical and stylish. Available everywhere from Argos and Amazon to specialist suppliers, they combine somewhere to get ready for the world with valuable storage space for hiding lotions and potions. It also means your tenants won't have to drill into your tiles, making their lives more enjoyable while removing the potential for damage. Mirrors can also improve natural light levels and brighten areas that struggle, particularly internal hallways and landings.
More than that, they add to the sense of space and flow, giving tantalising glimpses of what's to come.
HIT THE RIGHT TONE
There's no hiding tired, scuffed paintwork or dreary colours when we're out showing potential tenants around empty homes. Fresh paint makes a home feel like new. But more than that, it makes rooms feel more expensive, more loved and more inviting. Welcoming and bright are the qualities to aim for so that whatever the personal tastes and furniture style of your tenants, your walls will make the perfect backdrop. Warm whites go with anything without the starkness of pure brilliant white, and you can ramp up the glamour with an accent wall in a soft neutral like Nordic grey.
Favourites among interior designers are chimney breasts, alcoves, and, for a dash of hotel chic, walls behind beds. Final words It doesn't take much to transform an empty home into a stylish and inviting future place to live. By using our tips, you'll stand out from the crowd, attract the best tenants and keep them for longer, meaning fewer vacant days and an increased yield.
For some expert advice on getting your buy-to-let property looking just right, why not get in touch? We help landlords every day in Southampton to increase the popularity and performance of their rental portfolio, and we'd love to help you too. Call us on 02380 987610 or drop us a line at email@example.com today