Interior design ideas for HMO properties

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The HMO market is full of competitors as the number of HMO property investors increases. And whether you are an established HMO landlord or just starting your HMO properties journey, you need to develop a strategy to attract the type of tenant you want, reduce voids and ensure a steady cash flow.

Interior design is critical to achieving your goals, and in this article, we’ll explain why and share our approach and some interior design ideas for HMO properties.

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      1. The importance of interior design to stand out from the HMO crowd in 2023

      1. Interior design ideas and tips to WOW your tenants

      1. What you can expect from HMO Architects


    Your HMO property design will require you to determine the main purpose or function of each room and decide on the best room layout. Project: 20 Bed HMO in Liverpool.

    The importance of interior design to stand out from the HMO crowd in 2023

    Interior design isn’t about superficially filling rooms with ornaments and pieces of furniture. It’s about feelings and people. How you can make your potential tenant feel when they are in your HMO property. And it all starts, as soon as they log into SpareRoom or Rightmove to search for accommodation.

    You only have 2 seconds to get someone to stop scrolling and click on your advert. Then, in less than 10 seconds, you must convince them to reach out to you. And you can have a great copy describing your property, but ultimately, the photos and the way your rooms are set up will attract tenants to your door. And interior design is what will make them want to stay and grab one of your rooms as soon as possible.

    A well-designed HMO also allows you to charge a higher rent as people are always willing to pay for high quality, comfort and an ambience that makes them feel at home. But how can you achieve that? It’s time for some recommendations.

    Interior design ideas and tips to WOW your tenants

    It’s overwhelming to keep up with the trends, but there are some strategies you can use to make the interior design of your HMO property convert visitors into loyal tenants. 

    First and foremost, think about the type of tenant you’d like to attract. Think about their needs and preferences. Consider their possible ages, professions and tastes. Creating a profile of your ideal tenant will facilitate the design process. With this in mind, you can now proceed to check your local HMO market and see what kind of services they lack so you can set your property above the crowd and get creative. 

    Take some time to assess the space 

    You should determine the main purpose or function of each room and decide on the best room layout. Each room in your HMO property will have its own dimensions and you should take this into account to create an attractive interior design
    Your aim here is to achieve a well-functioning space, which means understanding the volume and capacity of every room and choosing the right layout and the right furniture. The last thing you need is an overcrowded space which will cost you more and negatively affect your tenant’s experience. We have an article on room layouts that you can consult here for some ideas.


    Warm, bright colours can cheer up and lift the mood of your tenants and could be used to decorate the  HMO communal areas for young, lively professionals or students who want to chat and relax in a vibrant space. Our team of HMO Architects designed the conversion of this old building used as offices into 16 flats between one-bedroom, maisonettes and studio flats on Borough Road in Saint Helens.


    Play with colour

    Did you know that colour is a deciding factor for 85% of purchasing decisions? It’ll be much easier to decorate your HMO if you have a clear colour scheme throughout the property (and stick to it). The first thing you should consider before picking your colour scheme is the amount of natural light the space is receiving per day, a well-lit space gives you more freedom and a wider range of colours to pick from.

    You should also take into account the ambience and the feeling you want to create in each room. Warm, bright colours, such as orange and yellow, can cheer up and lift the mood of your tenants. They could be used to decorate the living room of an HMO for young, lively professionals or students who want to chat and relax in a vibrant space. And cool colours, such as blue and green, can create a sense of calm and peacefulness in workspaces where concentration is needed.

    Dark colours can make rooms feel cosier, whilst light colours can make small rooms appear larger. The combination of these colours allows you to play with the perception of space. 

    Take advantage of the colour wheel

    This tool is easy and helpful to use colour theory as part of your HMO property design. The colour wheel has 12 basic hues that you can experiment with following the rule of colour harmony. Adobe’s colour wheel is a nice option to use. Once you choose your base colour, it’ll recommend colour palettes based on different colour schemes, including: 

        • Monochromatic

        • Complimentary

        • Analogous

        • Triadic

      Pick Pantones

      Every year, the Pantone Colour Institute releases the colours that will be in vogue in the next seasons so that designers can introduce them in their collections. Choosing Pantone colours is a good way to keep up with the trends. Some of the colours they have recently recommended for the Spring/Summer 2023 London Colour Palette are:

          • Airy Blue (Pantone 14-4122) –  A lightweight blue that evokes a cloudless sky.

          • Andean Toucan (Pantone 16-6230) – Use this bright, exotic green to add a touch of the highland forest to your property.

          • Pink Cosmos (Pantone 16-2122) –A shade of pink that is reminiscent of flowers in a garden. According to Pantone, this colour is ideal to contrast with all other hues.

        Create a mood board

        Put together the visual elements that inspire you on a mood board whilst making sure to keep your ideal tenant in mind. This will allow you to set a design direction efficiently. A mood board will help you save time and stay focused on your chosen style. You can create a mood board by collecting colour palettes, textures, materials, shapes, and images from Pinterest or other sources of inspiration.


        The combination of dark and light colours will allow you to play with the perception of space, which should be a key element of your HMO design strategy. Project: 12 Bed  HMO on 21 Fletcher Street in Stockport, Manchester

        Include nature in the design of your HMO property

        In recent years, younger generations have shown an interest in plant-first design solutions that can enhance their connection to nature and improve their well-being. But you don’t necessarily have to create staircase gardens, vertical plant walls or floral ceilings. Biophilic design is much more than adding plants to the interior:

            • Use colours and artwork that evoke natural elements, such as rocks, soil and trees. 

            • Take advantage of both natural light and artificial light. Bring natural light into the rooms and play with shadows to create a relaxing atmosphere. 

            • Make sure your HMO property is well-ventilated. 

            • Employ natural materials and organic materials to decorate the interiors. For example, stone and wood are aesthetically pleasing and provoke positive visual responses. 

            • Stay away from fake finishes if possible.


          Create biophilic interiors by using colours and artwork that evoke natural elements, such as rocks, soil and trees and employing natural materials and organic materials to decorate the interiors. Project: 7 Bed HMO on Norman Road in Southsea,  Portsmouth.

          What you can expect from HMO Architects 

          As experts in HMOs, we have a people-centric approach when designing the interiors to help landlords improve occupancy and retention rates and maximise property yields. With our professional support, your HMO property will stand out to your target tenants, regardless of whether you cater to students or professionals. 

          You may be wondering how we do it, so here are the answers to some of the questions you may have:

          How does the HMO Architects’ team go about creating a client profile and choosing colours and materials accordingly? 

          We’ll start by sending you a link to a form in our database. There you’ll tell us about your ideal tenant and your preferences, absolute musts, do’s and don’ts. You’ll be able to share your ideas on any interior design approaches you like and upload any related files.  

          During the second phase, we’ll prepare three mood boards based on the information provided and schedule an in-depth meeting to explain every option and receive your feedback. In this way, we aim to establish a clear vision of the design approach.

          Is there a strategy for each room: bathroom, kitchen, living room? 

          Fares Issa, one of our expert architects, explains:

          “Generally, we try to have one approach for the whole property to keep the design intact since the spaces are strongly correlated and work as a whole entity that cannot be fragmented. Yet, in the case of HMOs, our strategy differs, we see the property as a cluster of small blocks, and every block is a self-contained space where you find the same network of activities you find in a fully furnished house but in a micro-scale. All of this gives us more freedom to experiment on different spaces in the same HMO.” 

          And these are just a few of the tips and thoughts we wanted to share about HMO interior design. 

          We’ve helped several clients create a brand and a distinctive style in their HMO property portfolio with interior design. And as your HMO partner, we can help you get HMO planning and building regulation approved faster.

          Don’t hesitate to contact us.

          Get a free quote for your project and take the design of your HMO property to the next level.

          Picture of Giovanni Patania

          Giovanni Patania

          (Architect Director, Co-Founder)

          Giovanni Patania is the Lead Architect and Co-Founder at HMO Architect and Windsor Patania Architects.

          Originally from Siena, Italy, Giovanni worked as a Project Lead Architect at Foster+ Partners, designing Apple stores across the world,

          An HMO Investor himself, Giovanni understands property thoroughly, both from an investor's perspective and technically, as an Architect.

          With over 15 years of HMO development experience, working on over 150+ HMOs and a 95% Planning and Building Regulation success rate, Giovanni has the expertise and credentials to help you on your HMO journey."



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