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Personalising a Furnished Rental

Qatar’s real-estate market is brimming with fully furnished or semi-furnished villas and apartments. These options are a preferred and a more economical choice for the majority of expats living in Doha. 

The only downside to renting a furnished villa or apartment is not having any control over the interior design and furniture choices. It’s all about compromise—not having to purchase new furniture for temporary accommodation but maybe living with unattractive furniture or questionable paint colours. 

How and where do you begin? There are simple ways to spruce up your new abode to make it feel like home without hauling away every piece of furniture and starting from scratch. From making smart investment choices to purchasing inexpensive yet impactful accessories, here are some tricks to personalise a rental home.

The power of paint

Paint colour is the foundation of interior design. Think of your house as a blank canvas—a solid base for your artistic masterpiece. Paint is an easy way to dramatically update any space. Turning a beige wall into white can change the entire vibe of your house. Painting is also affordable and impactful, and a fun way to involve your friends and family. Roll up those sleeves, put on an old pair of overalls and get painting!

When it comes to choosing the right paint colour for your house, consider the overall palette of the room and furniture. White paint is standard, and it serves as a blank canvas to set the overall tone of the room. A white wall offers a peaceful atmosphere when combined with neutral tones and accents. Grays and taupes look best with cool and earthy tones or, if you want to make a statement, try painting a wall dark blue. 

Jotun Paint have an array of swatches to choose from, or you can bring a colour sample, be it a piece of paper or fabric, and they can match the colour and find the right shade using their computer system. Don’t want to go through the hassle of painting your own wall? Ask the staff at your local paint store; they may be able to recommend a painter or service. Kansai Paint in Al Waab is another paint shop that offers painting services; their staff is professional and even come dressed in uniform. 

Invest wisely 

What should you look for when investing in furniture? According to interior designer Nina Etnier, it’s a good idea to invest in pieces that will travel easily from house to house or even when you go back home. "A beautiful side table, a nice dresser, coffee tables—pieces that are going to work wherever you land," Etnier says. 

If you are looking for a unique piece, you can have it custom-made. There are a handful of companies and woodworkers who build custom furniture. CREU Concept is a small home-based business that specialises in funky and unique hand-made furnishings. Products are available to order on their website, and they also take requests for custom-made designs. RustiQatar also builds unique hand-made furniture and crafts from local wood and recycled wooden pallets.

Darriche Traditional Home Interiors in Souq Waqif sells antique furniture and elegant accessories like mirrors, lamps, statues and vases from India. For antique-style furniture with a modern touch, Liwan Furniture offers creative, solid-wood pieces including bookshelves, TV stands, benches, trunks and more.

If you’re looking to invest in elegant modern furniture, IDdesign at The Mall is a European furniture store that offers high-quality home furnishings. BoConcept at Lagoona Mall is a Scandinavian furniture store that also sells quality contemporary pieces that combine both function and design. The store updates their showroom constantly and offers ex-display furniture or discontinued stock items for a reduced price on a first come first serve basis on their website, boconcept-qatar.com

Accents and accessories 

Accessorising your house is the best way to let your taste and design personality come through. Interior Design and Styling Director Nina Dee Rattenbury says that the first step to accessorising your house is to appraise the current furnishings and style. “Most furnished homes in Doha will be of traditional dark timber in a fairly simple yet modern style,” she said. The next step is to choose a colour scheme that coordinates with the existing furnishings and stick with it. “A colour scheme should consist of one primary colour and then one or two neutral colours,” she added. 

When it comes to accessorising your house, throw pillows in different textured fabrics add depth and sophistication to your living room. A nice cashmere or faux fur throw adds texture to the sofa and is also cosy to curl up against while watching a movie. 

If your bathroom tiles give you nightmares, an easy and affordable face-lift can be achieved by using a plush towel set. People don’t pay attention to this small detail, and often their towel collections feel hard, don’t match, and sometimes fall apart. A nice set of towels for the guest bathroom and your own use makes a world of difference. 

Another great way to personalise your rental is by hanging art. Artwork is one of those investment pieces that can travel with you to your next home. You don’t need to splurge on an expensive piece just as long as it speaks to you and your individual taste. 

The Doha Mums markets, the MIA Park Bazaar and QatArt Handmade Market are great places to find one-of-a-kind accessories for home as well as art made by locals and expats here in Qatar. Head to Souq Waqif for some traditional accessories like rugs, lamps and baskets to introduce some local culture into your home. 

Add greenery

If you have an awkward corner or a small space in your house that just feels empty, liven it up with some greenery. It can either be one tall and lush indoor plant like or a cluster of smaller plants in a nice looking weave basket or planted pots. Indoor plants add colour and depth, not to mention, provide a calmer environment that can reduce stress and promote healthier living. 

Fiddle-leaf fig tree, snake plants and aloe vera are great indoor options. They are low maintenance, increase oxygen levels and remove pollutants from the air. You can find indoor plants and pots at the plant souq on Wholesale Market Road. 

Don’t want to commit to taking care of real plants? There are life-like artificial plants at IKEA and Home Centre. 

Furnishing an entire apartment or villa is no inexpensive task. Renting a furnished home is an excellent way to save money while living in Qatar, and with a few simple tricks, you can update and personalise your rental home no matter your style or budget. 

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