How I transformed my rental mattress from basic to bougie

A true story, from a sleep expert

Rental mattress with sign post in graphic
(Image credit: Future)

So you've recently moved into a new place? You're renting, and having your own home is just as good as you'd imagined. I get it, I was in the same situation only a few months ago. I found though, that when I first moved in I just couldn't get a good night's sleep. Maybe you can't sleep in your new surroundings, too? It could be down to nerves or even excitement, but more likely, it's because your landlord-provided mattress doesn't suit your needs. I know you can't throw it out and get a new one, but there are a few things you can do to help.

My new apartment came furnished with everything I needed, but the bed wasn't as comfortable as I would have liked. And with renter's rules, a tight budget, and nowhere to store a spare, replacing it with a mattress of my choice wasn't an option. Instead, I worked on ways to improve my sleep surface, like getting a great mattress topper, investing in quality sheets, and learning how to care for my mattress, to begin with. 

Follow my mattress transformation story below, so you can catch the wink of sleep you so definitely deserve. Trust me when I say that investing in your sleep is worth it.

My current mattress

To give you an idea of my mattress situ, and what I was working with, I thought I'd give you the lowdown on what my mattress used to be like. It's a spring mattress, in a double size, and while it wasn't an old mattress by any means, it was too firm for my liking. I'm a side sleeper, who sometimes rolls onto my back, which meant before revamping my mattress, I often woke up a little achy. I know I wouldn't have been comfortable on a memory-foam option, as it would be too soft for my liking, but something less hard than the current one was what I clearly needed. 

These are the five steps I took to take my rental mattress from basic to boutique.

1. I added a mattress topper 

Pillow on a mattress on Louises bed with grey headboard

(Image credit: Future / Louise Oliphant)

A good mattress topper is the best way to transform any mattress. Whether your current one has seen better days or it doesn't work with your particular sleeping position, your sleep surface is everything. From thick foam options that are great if you sleep on your side to soft pillow-top designs perfect for back sleepers, you can personalize your bed so much with such a simple addition that even Goldilocks would approve of.

2. Then I invested in quality sheets 

Louises bed with bedding on that transformed her rental mattress

(Image credit: Future / Louise Oliphant)

If you rent like me, it's likely that you don't have a ton of spare cash to splash on treating yourself either. But if there's one thing I'd recommend investing in, it's bedding. Slipping into silky smooth bamboo sheets, top-quality linens or high thread count cotton can do wonders for getting your best sleep yet. Remember how well you slept in that hotel bed you stayed in not so long ago? Get ready to experience that all over again, and again.

3. Layered on the soft furnishings 

Louises bed with bedding on that transformed her rental mattress

(Image credit: Future / Louise Oliphant)

A few scatter cushions and a cozy throw can seriously upgrade your sleep setup. Making your bed every morning can help give you a sense of routine and improve general well-being, so adding a few more steps to the process will only make it more satisfying. Believe me, on cold nights especially, a cozy and layered bed looks and feels extra inviting. 

4. Choose a pillow that makes all the difference

Pillow on a mattress on Louises bed with grey headboard

(Image credit: Future / Louise Oliphant)

So this isn't an exact alteration to your mattress, but if there's one thing I'd swear by when it comes to sleeping comfortably, it's your pillow. You're probably resting your head on the same cheap pillows you've had for years. I was too. And before I upgraded mine, I would have never guessed that they might have been impacting my sleep. So buying yourself the actual pillow of your dreams could really help you sleep better, and wake up fresher. Plus they don't have to cost much either. 

And don't stop there. As a beauty-sleep advocate, silk pillowcases are another must. Sleeping on these has made such a good difference to my hair, skin, and sleep. If you have linen bedding, the fabric can be too abrasive on your face but silk provides a softer surface. Especially if you have sensitive skin like me, it's a total bedding no-brainer. 

5. And I cleaned my mattress 

Shark Stratos Anti Hair Wrap Plus Pet Pro attachment cleaning mattress

(Image credit: Future/Annie Collyer)

Making sure your mattress is as comfy as it can be will take some extra leg work too. Firstly, flipping your mattress will make it firmer, if you're finding it too soft at the moment. You can also try turning it around since it could be that your mattress has been slept on for too long in the same place. But generally, I've found that keeping my mattress clean is a great way to make my sleep setting feel fresh.

I don't have a handheld vacuum, but using the upholstery tool on a cordless vacuum will plush up the surface whilst removing any debris too. FYI: This attachment should come with the majority of vacuums, otherwise, you can also do this with a handheld vacuum but it might take a little longer.

You can also use a fabric refresher or an air freshener to spray your mattress and give it a little TLC.

Louise Oliphant
Ecommerce Editor

Louise is the Ecommerce Editor at Real Homes, specialising in sleep content so you can wind-down well. With prior PR experience working for a luxury bedding brand, Louise knows the importance of getting a great night’s sleep. Joining the other side of the desk as a full-time journo, Louise brings her bedding expertise to writing sleep buying guides, reviews, and news for Real Homes. Aside from helping readers get essential shut eye, Louise also writes shopping content for homeware items that’ll add a decorative edge to your space. With an eye for design that won’t snooze on style, but a budget that won’t quite stretch, Louise loves nothing more than a modern designer dupe. From coloured glassware to contemporary storage, anything to upgrade the bare space of her rented East London flat.