by Xinhua writers Wang Di, Zhang Yuqi
BEIJING, Sept. 2 (Xinhua) -- Although he is not an interior designer, Feng Su has revamped nine apartments he rented in Beijing during the past decade. In one instance, he repainted a tainted wall and replaced the door handles and all the ceiling lamps.
"My parents were against the renovation and complained that I wasted money on the properties of landlords. Meanwhile, my landlords also raised their eyebrows wondering why I couldn't settle for what I got," recalled Feng, CEO of Haohaozhu, an interior design ideas sharing platform.
Feng's enthusiasm in interior renovation has found a much wider audience among Chinese youth. A rapidly increasing number of apartment revamping related content has appeared on China' social media and knowledge sharing platforms.
Chen Lu, a 26-year old scriptwriter, became overwhelmed by interior design inquiries after she shared her renovation experience on Haohaozhu.
Her kitchen cupboards looked like solid wood after she covered the surface with colored stickers. With discounts as much as 80 percent off, she purchased second-hand furniture online such as a bed and sofa. In the end, it cost her about 6,000 yuan (838 U.S. dollars) to renovate a two-bedroom apartment in Beijing.
To fastidiously revamp a rented apartment has been foreign to many Chinese. "People were more keen on buying than renting an apartment," said Liu Lu, a professor of economics at the Southwestern University of Finance and Economics.
He explained that homeownership used to be vital as it was regarded as a smart investment and was often associated with dowries and access to better schooling. Renting, therefore, was nothing more than a matter of expediency.
However, high property prices in China's big cities have forced many young people to settle down in rented apartments.
According to recent statistics from Lianjia, a major Chinese real estate agent, a Beijing apartment on average costs 61,526 yuan per square meter, which is equal to what a fresh Chinese graduate earns in a year.
According to a recent survey on China's college graduates employment conducted by Mycos, a market research organization, a Chinese university graduate earns 4,624 yuan per month on average with one year's work experience.
As renting has become more common, more young Chinese have started to express their personal aesthetic preferences in their rented apartments. "For the younger generation, housing not only means a place to sleep but also to live, which reflects their longing for a life with better quality," said Xu Hua, a sociology professor from Anhui University.
For some, it is also an economical choice to renovate an old shabby apartment rather than renting a well-equipped suite.
"It's better to rent an empty apartment and save money to purchase things like furniture and decorations," Chen said.
China's fast-developing internet industry has offered a wide range of options for interior design lovers.
"Consumers were kept in the dark when it came to home decoration in the past. Now it is easy for people to pick up some smart designs from online stores even with a tight budget," Feng said.
His internet startup Haohaozhu, which in Chinese means "to live with care," now provides links to commodities related to many interior design cases shared on its website.
"Personally, interior design has brought me great pleasure, as each apartment challenged me to solve a particular problem within a certain budget," Feng said.