Keen to style up the bland décor in her rented home, Hazel hasn’t let being a tenant limit her vision for a moody exotic-inspired living room. Here, she shows us how she used statement wall murals, plush fabrics and intricate patterns to transform her living room.


And get more inspiration in our guide making a rented house or flat feel like home.

My story...

After starting Avalana Design in 2018, we moved from Salford to this larger rented house further out of Manchester. The living room was first on the agenda as it’s where we spend most of our time. I wanted somewhere that would double as a showroom and meeting space where I could show off my products.

Living room before pic
Hazel's living room before the makeover

Installing one of my newly launched murals across the alcoves and chimney breast was my first job. The design was inspired by ancient Eastern art with great blue herons wading through a lily pond. Because of that, there’s a nod to Japanese and Chinese styles throughout the room. As it’s north-facing, the golden tones and raw silk textures bring a much-needed rich warmth.

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The couple ditched their old grey sofa as the space needed a pop of cheerful colour to break up the grey mural behind. They opted for a coral feature wall to pick out the colour of the lilies and birds from the other mural opposite

Welcome to my home...

My problem living room As I design wallpaper, the first thing that had to go was the dated Laura Ashley cream and lilac floral wallpaper in the alcoves. I also wanted to ditch the cream curtains, which cut off the bay window and made the room feel smaller. The landlord’s chunky brown leather sofas dominated the space too, so I made sure he didn’t leave them behind when we moved in!

How I made it work I started with an Eastern-style wall mural then brought out the rich jewel tones with an emerald green love seat, mustard sofa and coral chair, all in velvet. Gold accessories, black bamboo lanterns and animal print cushions really lift the space.

My favourite part It’s got to be the dining area with the mural behind. We love eating there with lamps and candles lit. It feels like we could be in a little boutique restaurant somewhere.

Next, I bought a golden mustard sofa, emerald green love seat and coral chair to add pops of colour. Having three different backdrops works well for my business photography. I also created a dining zone by mixing up a table and chairs from different sets, upcycled an IKEA shelving unit and put up a wooden beam above the fireplace. I’m also planning to upcycle my drinks cabinet and switch up the grey rug to a bold geometric design.

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Hazel had a piece of reclaimed wood cut to size and stained to finish off the fireplace. She also splurged on a gold window mirror as it was the perfect size for this spot

Starting a business has been an exciting journey and I’ve enjoyed collaborating with other local makers on footstools and a luxurious dog bed, which are two of my favourite features in the living room. In the future, I’d love to donate a percentage of sales to conservation charities too. Although our priority is saving up for our wedding next year, I can’t wait until I own a house and can do whatever I want!

My style advice

Make reversible changes

‘Our landlord is happy for us to decorate, as long as we change it back before we leave,’ says Hazel. ‘I’d love to try dark walls, but the last thing you want to do when you move out is paint five coats of white emulsion.

'Luckily, the wall mural can be peeled off in panels so it’s much less hassle and it could even be reapplied elsewhere. As renters, it’s a good idea to invest in things that you can easily take with you – like accessories – that will work in another space.’

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Hazel's style advice: 'make reversible changes'

Create a coordinated look

Removing the heavy cream curtains has made space for an emerald green velvet love seat, which matches the dining chairs.

‘To make the window area tie in with the Japanese feel, I asked the blind fitter to create a shutter effect by adding black tape,’ says Hazel. ‘And I picked furniture with gold legs to tie everything together.’ Animal prints and botanicals make for a failsafe combination in the space, while elements of black give the new-look living room a designer luxe look.

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Hazel's style advice: 'create a coordinated look'

Try your hand at upcycling

An IKEA bookcase, which doubles as a TV unit, has been completely revamped with gold spray paint. Hazel also sprayed the grey IKEA boxes in black and gold leafed the handles for a designer look. ‘You can’t go wrong with black and gold, which always looks more expensive than it is,’ says Hazel.

‘I’ve even given Clive the skull a makeover. Originally a white money bank from Urban Outfitters, he’s now champagne gold and has been decorated with black glitter henna art so he ties in with the rest of the
scheme perfectly.’

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Hazel's style advice: 'try your hand at upcycling'

Shop the look

● Black and Gold Orient wall mural, £285 per 7.5 sq m; Monochrome Jaguar wall mural, £285 per 7.5 sq m; cushions, £105 each; art prints, from £32, all Avalana Design ● Feature wall painted in Burnt Copper matt emulsion, £12 for 2.5l, Wickes ● Avalana Design Golden Orient footstool, £495, Loose Button ● Avalana Design luxury pet bed, £450, Milo & Bertie ● For a similar table, try the Rhode Island small dining table, £149.97, Furniture123 ● For a similar dining chair, try the Genesis Metis chair in Bistro Green, £54.95, RayGar Direct ● Leopard Deco fan cushion, £115, May Rose Vintage ● Ritz Light Grey rug, £352, RugVista ● For a similar zebra rug, try the Kalispell Zebra rug, £83.99, Wayfair ● For a similar mirror, try the Rose Gold Pebble mirror, £65, Oliver Bonas ● NYMÖ lampshade, £22, IKEA ● Brass Tribal bison head, £79, The House of Beau ● Monkey tealight holder, £16, Dunelm ● Edit Sitting Monkey Gold table lamp, £69.99, Lighting Direct ● Rattan eye mirror, £15.99, Yes I Want It


This is a digital version of a feature that originally appeared in Home Style magazine. For more inspirational home ideas, why not subscribe today?