Way of Life - The Sessile - Bedroom
Making a Home

The art of
renting
with
way of life

Words by Harriett Russell

The fine art of making a rental property feel stylish, chic &
your own with Way of Life brand director Gavin Chetty.

Way of Life - The Sessile - The Office

The Office at the Sessile, featuring office chair and desk by Pierre Jeanneret, ceramic sculpture by Aysun Ay, artwork by Bristol based artist Jack Paffett and chunky jute woven rug.

Way of Life is something of a first in the rental spaces. Offering a range of stylish, ready-to-move-in accommodations, no-fuss tenancy management and an in-house team that’s on hand whenever you need, it believes renting should feel no different to owning. Especially when it comes to the look, feel and experience of a property. That starts with exceptional design, so we sat down with brand director Gavin Chetty to find out what goes into making a rental feel like home.

Harriet Russell: What are the key factors people should consider when choosing a rental property?

Gavin Chetty: I always come back to location, light and space. You might not be making the same investment as if you were buying somewhere, but you’re still investing in your day-to-day life for the next year or so. Even designers with an incredible knack for lighting schemes will tell you that natural light trumps artificial any day. Floor-to-ceiling windows have become a benchmark in newer buildings, but it’s also about how the space is oriented. If you have your heart set on a particular building, consider how different apartments within it will experience light in a different way. It’s not always as simple as south-facing being the best option.

THE OFFICE

A calming space for work and relaxation.

HR: What are some cost-effective ways to create a stylish rental property?

GC: The floor is your fifth wall, and the right rug can completely reframe a room. Jute or sisal tend to be pretty cost effective and can add much-needed texture. It’s trickier if you’re starting with nothing and need to furnish fast, but ideally, you’d take your time exploring markets and vintage fairs to really hone your taste. There are also several incredible online platforms that make antiques so accessible and might be a better bet for those prone to impulse purchases in person. For example, Vinterior has just launched its Resale platform.

HR: How do you make the colour palette feel cohesive?

GC: It’s easy to feel restricted in a rental when you can’t paint the walls, but they tend to be neutral – which is probably what most of us would choose anyway. If there are colours or underlying tones, perhaps in flooring or countertops, that’s your starting point. From there it’s about working out what you’re drawn to and building up layers of colour. Items with a larger surface area, such as sofas, rugs or bed linen, will have the biggest impact on the space, so make sure that those ‘leading’ shades feel particularly liveable.

Way of Life - The Sessile - The Lounge

The lounge at the Sessile: mix and match sofa in velvet mustard and geometric cushion by Soho Home, rust cocktail chair by Gubi and candle holder by Nedre Foss.

HR: What role does furniture play in the design of a rental property?

GC: Alongside lighting, your choice of furniture has an enormous influence on the look and feel of a space. We offer both furnished and unfurnished options at our residences precisely because we recognise that many design-minded people will already have pieces they treasure. Mixing eras and references is the quickest way to a space that feels authentic. Maybe it’s a 1960s or 70s armchair, with a modernist angular frame, next to a simple Victorian dresser. Ideally, each piece will speak to another in some way, whether there’s a common thread between form, colour, or texture.

Getting the sizing and layout right is half the job. Measure, measure, and measure again, then play professional and plot it out on one of the apps, looking for ways to create zones and interesting nooks. Also consider flow – annoying niggles, like catching the corner of a table or having to do a big loop around a sofa, will chip away at your enjoyment of a space.

Way of Life - The Sessile - Bedroom Details

Dressing Table details at The Sessile: Raw Smoky Quartz Points by Salt Home, on a circular marble tray via Not On The High Street.

Way of Life - The Sessile - Bedroom

Bedroom at the Sessile, featuring Hannah Ludnow's artwork available via M.A.H Gallery and geometric design throw pillows (similar here).

Way of Life - The Sessile The Kitchen

Kitchen at the Sessile: Flower bowl Brunello Cucinelli, set of four handmade Celine Highball M&S Glasses, Fellow Stagg Matte Black Kettle.

HR: Are there specific design trends that are currently popular among renters?

GC: I’m generally wary of trends, but I’m seeing a lot of really sculptural pieces against neutral backdrops, which suits rental situations well. Interesting paper lamps, wooden objects, ironmongery accents and sheer, drapey fabrics all come to mind. Then you’ve got the micro-trends, like chrome and wide checks, that can easily be introduced with textiles and accessories. It’s probably not a bad thing – making grand decisions based on something you might not love next year is always the least sustainable choice. On another note, we’re seeing a ‘softening’ of working spaces. People don’t actually want to work in harshly lit grey rooms, and there’s certainly been a move towards creating more uplifting, characterful environments with far more attention given to texture.

HR: What are some creative ways to personalise a rental property to make it feel more like a home?

GC: Plenty of creative types live in rented homes and are full of ideas. I know a designer who added wall lights to their apartment and just didn’t wire them in. Don’t discount that decorative element even if you’re not quite using pieces as intended. Textile pieces and tapestries are particularly popular at the moment, and the general advice is to use naturally renter-friendly Velcro tape so that you don’t make holes in the fabric. If you’re not confident with the command strips, could you lean some large abstract artworks against a wall?

Way of Life - The Sessile The Lounge
Way of Life - The Sessile Bedroom

Master Bedroom, featuring geometric patterned pillows (similar here), Bilia Table Lamp by Gio Ponti and Treehouse Candle by Byredo.

HR: You mentioned lighting earlier – how can people use lighting to enhance the visual appeal of a rental property?

GC: At Way of Life we talk about what we call ‘resting a glow’. We set all of our lighting to 1400 kelvin, which is akin to candlelight. Too many people pick up whatever bulb they find in a local shop without consideration for how the ‘temperature’ of that bulb will wash the entire room. I can’t stress enough the difference it makes. You can transform a basic space into something quite different with good lighting. It’s also important to have options, or ‘layers’ – ideally overhead, standing and table level lighting.

HR: Finally, how can renters keep the design of their rental properties as timeless as possible?

GC: Instagram can be a useful tool but scrolling through endless images of other people’s spaces can really muddy the waters when it comes to making your own mark on a space for the long haul. Natural materials are the antithesis of that – we’ve lived with wood and stone for millennia and there’s something innate there.

If you can, avoid buying everything at once. Pacing yourself allows for mental space and it’s just a much more organic way to collect. Even designers who are furnishing entire homes for clients will do it over a matter of months, looking at a variety of different sources and waiting until the right thing pops up with a dealer or on a second-hand site.

It’s always prudent to be thinking long-term in terms of what you invest in. I’m a big fan of modular systems, which can flex as you add or take away components so should slot pretty seamlessly into your next place. Maybe that’s the beauty of renting. If you don’t love it, move.

Visit WayOfLife.com, discover their latest location The Sessile and follow them on Instagram on @wayoflifeuk

Way of Life - The Sessile Bedroom

Bedroom details: French flax linen pillow cases, line drawing via M.A.H. Gallery (similar here) and table lamp by Flos.

Way of Life - The Sessile Lounge

Living room at The Sessile: Openhouse Magazine, Issue 19, disc and sphere floor lamp by Atelier Areti.

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