Even if you can't paint walls or drill holes, there are many ways to make a temporary home your own.
Personalise your serviced apartment
I've just moved to the UAE on a two-year work contract and I have leased a serviced apartment that I'm looking to restyle. The landlord has agreed to store the existing furniture but I'm not allowed to paint the walls or drill any holes. I'm also concerned about future shipping costs if I invest in furniture.
Over the next two years you will spend a lot of your time at home: unwinding at the end of the day, entertaining your new friends and putting up out-of-town visitors. So how do you inject some personality into your apartment while watching the shipping costs and playing by the landlord's rules?
We rent cars, houses and sports gear, so why not furniture? Indigo Living (www.indigo-living.com) is an international furnishing company that offers furniture rental packages and has a presence in Dubai. Its in-house design team can work with you to achieve the look you are after. Besides the obvious, they'll tailor packages to include details like electronics, artwork and accessories. The big plus is that at the end of the lease period you have the option to buy the furniture outright.
Renting furniture is convenient but it's money down the drain. If budget is a driving factor, reuse the apartment furniture and invest in accessories and finishing touches. Furniture slipcovers can transform the look of a sofa or chair, especially if you select fabrics with textures and patterns. Upholstery shops like Azores Furniture (04 349 3323) in Dubai or Shadows in Abu Dhabi (02 631 4404) can knock these up for you. Alternatively, make a trip to Ikea and invest in throws, cushions and area rugs that are economical and just as effective.
Add colour and texture to the walls through removable stickers. To achieve a wallpaper effect, combine a series of graphic stickers on one large surface.
Walls are incomplete without art or photographs. As Andy Warhol said, "Art is what you can get away with." Instead of hanging canvas work, experiment with everyday objects that you can prop up against a wall. A framed mirror or loose branches can all work as art within your space. A quick search on Dubizzle or a trip to the Dubai flea market (Al Safa Park on May 5) will generate some good options.
You can also mount lightweight picture frames on removable adhesive wall hooks available at Ace hardware and Speedex (www.speedextools.com). For more ideas for your walls, see page 3.
Pallavi Dean is an award-winning independent design consultant who practises in the UAE. If you have a question for her, email email@example.com