Home ownership remains a distant dream for many young people, but their desire to make their rented house their home is changing the interior design industry.
For millennials and Gen Z, those aged between 24 and 35, rising house prices and long-term wage stagnation continues to push the prospect of home ownership further and further way. Back in 1996, 55% of those in this age bracket owned their own home, but today that figure has collapsed to little more than a third (34%), and with no sign that the government plans to invest in home building, those figures are only going to decline further.
Whilst home ownership has been in free-fall, young people still want to personalise their rented accommodation and transform it into their home. And with Instagram and Pinterest spreading #interiorinspo ideas faster than ever, the interior design industry has been catching up by producing furniture and homeware items that do not require physical renovations.
The boom in houseplant sales in both the UK and US reflects both the trend for young people to want relatively cheap decorations in their homes and their desire to have something to nurture and care for whilst living in the concrete jungle of a city. Houseplants are less of a commitment and require much less space than a dog or a cat, but can bring some much needed nature into people’s homes.
According to plant store Patch, 67% of Londoners bought a houseplant last year with a significant 10% rise in plant purchasing for 25-34 years-olds.
The easiest and cheapest way to add some life and personalisation to any space is with smaller items like cushions, candles, and vases – all of which are seeing growing purchase numbers from young people. Whether that is a few seasonal items for Easter or some more permanent decorations, large retailers like Zara, ASOS and H&M have already launched homeware ranges in recent years to give young people an affordable and accessible way to replicate some of their favourite designs from Instagram.
Rented accommodation in cities like London and New York is not cheap, and after rent, bills, and other expenses, there is rarely enough left over for young people to splurge on home decor items that may not match their next flat. In response, a number of homeware rental companies have sprung up to offer millennials the home style they desire without the upfront expense and without the need for storage or an eBay sale when they up or downsize in the future.
Interior design rental services have long existed to service office spaces, with companies looking to impose their design on a space for a temporary period, but there is an increasing trend for renters to make similar decisions. They wonder why they should spend money to buy items to decorate a space that is by its nature relatively ephemeral. If the space is rented, why should the items contained within be any different? And with renting furniture and homeware, renters have the added benefit of being able to rapidly update their look or redecorate a new space to reflect their style quickly and for little additional outlay.
Young renters are creating a sense of home in increasingly creative ways, where they do not need to compromise on their ideals or sense of aesthetics – and businesses are starting to reflect their plans.