How to Uplift Your Rents With Good Interior Design

HMO design can be tricky. You’re designing a space that needs to stand out in the crowded rental market, abide by all the regulations in your area, have enough storage and facilities for all the tenants in your property, and you need it to work for your tenants.

Not only that, but you also need it to make some money. Otherwise, there’s no point in investing. As an investor, the margins are everything. So, how do you design in a way that increases your rents and your profits?

Let’s look at the rules we follow when designing any HMO to help make the most of your investment.

Layouts First

The first place to start is always seeing if you can maximise your floorplans to make the space work better.

I’m not talking about adding in more bedrooms, although if there is space, this is always a bonus! Instead, I’m talking about making the most of the space you already have. For instance, moving en-suites into different positions or moving the furniture to make the room feel more spacious.

Layout Tip #1:

Use nooks to your advantage. A little nook is excellent for built-in storage, or a lovely little space to fit in a study space, or if it’s big enough, then a little reading corner. All these make the space much nicer to live in and use and avoid wasted space!

Layout Tip #2:

Bench seating is a great way to make more space. If you’re struggling to fit in a dining table, using a bench on one side can give you enough space to put one in and make the dining space feel more grounded.

Layout Tip #3:

Always try to add in some lounge space! We’ve had plenty of feedback from tenants over the years who have told us they prefer a lounge area, even if that’s a little chill space in the kitchen diner. So try to make space for your tenants to sit with a cuppa that isn’t at the dining table.

Layout Tip #4:

We always try to add en-suite bathrooms to our HMOs. We find that our tenants are often happy to pay more for an en-suite room because of the benefit of additional privacy.


Now, onto the design! You want your HMO to stand out in the rental market if it’s going to sell quickly, and you’ll need it to work well for your tenants if you want to demand a higher rent. So, how do we achieve this?

Design Tip #1:

Careful use of colour can help your property stand out in the market. I say “careful” because being the most noticeable property on isn’t what you want if you’re prominent for all the wrong reasons. My best tip is to make your property feel like a home. Pick a strong set of neutral colours, 1-2 more subtle accent colours for the walls (blues and greens are my favourites) and 1 brighter accent colour to accessorise with. The bright your accent colour, the less you need to use it. Think of a print or a lamp that uses this accent colour. 

Design Tip #2:

Pick a theme with your furniture and stick to it. We always put together a design concept that helps inform our furniture choices and ensure that all pieces fit nicely together. You don’t have to buy all of your furniture from the same range (in fact, I’d suggest you avoid this) but make sure that they all suit the style of the property and the rest of the furniture. This can make a massive difference in how expensive the whole house feels. 

Design Tip #3:

Stage, stage, stage! Not everyone can visualise themselves living in a property. Walking into an empty home, however well designed, can put people off. We strongly recommend you stage your property before showing tenants around. Small things such as bedding, throws and cushions, ornaments and prints can work wonders. Your property photos will look far more interesting, and your viewings will go much smoother. Of course, you can always take your staging items away before a tenant moves in. Not only does staging help to ‘finish’ the design, but it also helps tenants imagine themselves living in your property!

Design Tip #4:

The devil is in the detail, and the detail starts at the building and refurbishing stage! Never leave your build team to it, they won’t have your vision in their heads, so it’s always best to outline how you want everything to look. We do this with a neat decoration specification with everything our tradespeople need to pull off our design so that nothing is left to interpretation. A well-finished home will always feel more attractive to prospective tenants. 

These tips are specific examples you can work with to increase your rents through design. But, every single investment is different. So, my best advice is to look for every opportunity to add value for your tenants. Your tenants choose to pay more for your property, so what can you do to make it worth more to them?

That might mean adding more working space if your tenants are likely working from home. Or it might mean more built-in storage, en-suite bathrooms or more entertaining space. Of course, it all depends on the needs and wants of the demographic you’re serving, but you can’t go wrong by being empathetic towards your tenants!

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