WORDS: Alex Firth
FEATURE IMAGE: Dan Soderstrom For Rented Space
Amelia Barnes and Dan Soderstrom are the founders of the Australian-based website Rented Space. The project started in 2016 as a place to showcase uniquely-styled rental properties, featuring homes and workspaces that prove a tight budget and strict tenancy agreement are not barriers to creating a beautiful space.
The couple are based in Melbourne, Australia. Amelia works as a freelance writer/journalist and Dan is a photographer. Rented Space is a side project that unites their respective crafts and shared interest of people and design.
One element Noa Vee has in common with Rented Space is the consideration of both people and products – to what extent do people influence your content?
The great thing about Rented Space is that it combines Dan’s and my personal interests (design, writing and photography) but puts the spotlight on others. For every feature we do, we meet the renter in person and really try to get to know them so we can portray their life and home as accurately as possible. Their stories are very much at the forefront of each feature we publish.
Long term, we’d love to have a diverse mix of renters in terms of age, race and location reflected on the site, as well as more varied property types.
It is well known that millennials have a hard time acquiring property in urban spaces, how has this factor influenced your platform?
The difficulty acquiring an affordable, comfortable, convenient, safe and stylish property in an urban area is ultimately what inspired Rented Space. Before starting the website, we found most property and design publications focused almost entirely on affluent owner-occupiers, despite renters also representing a large portion of the population. In Australia where we’re based for example, over 30 per cent of households are rented.
With Rented Space it’s our aim to show even rented, temporary spaces can be stylish and inviting. Even if you’re not going to be living in a space for long or you have a strict landlord, there are simple tips and tricks requiring little to no budget that can transform a property into a really welcoming and happy place to be.
It’s very easy to focus only on the negative when talking about renting, so hopefully Rented Space inspires a more optimistic outlook for people.
When reading the stories on Rented Space, and viewing the Instagram photos, it’s easy to be inspired by the creativity on show. What sort of responses would you like to achieve?
Ultimately we’d like Rented Space to offer creative, affordable and attainable inspiration for other peoples’ homes and workspaces. We also hope readers find the renters themselves interesting and recognise how their individual style impacts their environment. We feel that the best homes are a reflection of the people who live there, so we try to showcase that individuality.
You clearly utilise multiple platforms in imaginative ways, but which consistent themes do you follow when creating your content?
I (Amelia) personally handpick most of the spaces we publish, so the consistent theme is simply that I have to like it! I am conscious though of that often equating to a plant-filled home with a velvet couch, so I’m trying to work on that…
It’s our eventual aim to branch out to more cities here and internationally, but the consistent themes that have arisen so far are:
– Sustainability. Most if not all of the renters we’ve featured mostly have second-hand furniture that’s been inherited from a family member or purchased at a bargain price. These pieces are often the renters’ favourite items and tell a unique story, as well as being more financially and environmentally beneficial.
– Indoor plants. I’m not sure if it’s the same internationally but indoor plants have had a major resurgence in Australia over the past four years or so. Not only are these a beautiful addition to any home, they’re also ideal for renters seeking art that can easily be taken from place to place.
– Ingenuity. Renters are often working with limited financial resources and space, therefore requiring creative thinking when it comes to styling.
– Confidence. It takes a level of confidence and commitment to make a new place feel like your own, especially if it’s only temporary. The renters we feature put time and care into their spaces despite knowing they won’t live there forever.