Nothing is more depressing than moving into a new place and not knowing how to make it express who you are. You think about painting the walls, ripping up the floor, hanging the biggest mirror you’ve ever seen in your life in a hallway….and then you remember that you’re in a rental and your landlords favorite color is beige, they love their speckled brown linoleum floor and don’t see the need for the 10 anchors it will take for that mirror. What to do?
Here are a few simple, easy, affordable, unobtrusive ways to make your rental space really feel like your home.
If you haven’t heard of them already, they are AMAZING! Originating in France in the 1400’s and moving to American colonies in the early 1700’s, floorcloths became known as crumb cloths when used under tables. But don’t think for one second that these are strictly for functional use in the kitchen and dining rooms. Oh no. Because of the bright colors in ready made cloths and DIY stencils available for the project savvy individual, you can add floor decoration to any room in your home. DesignSponge has a great online tutorial on how to really add a wow factor if you are looking to try this project for yourself.
2. ORGANIZE WITH STYLE:
Keep office supplies or other knick-knacks in a home, whether it be a vintage tray, a dedicated hall table, or antique jars. Anything with translucent color will keep an open un-cluttered feel while showing some decoration. Plus, the personal trinkets will draw any guests eye as well as make you smile every time you see them out!
3. LOVE THE WALLPAPER:
Wallpaper is making a comeback. Not necessarily on the wall, but decorating anything from dressers and shelves to window sills. Get creative! Find a wallpaper that has a subtle pattern or a bright pop of color. Either way, use double sided tape to adhere to a surface for a quick and easy project as well as a quick and easy restore once you are done with it. I recommend wallpapering any exposed shelves, table legs, and even the side of your refrigerator if it’s exposed.
4. DON’T UNDERESTIMATE WINDOW TREATMENTS:
Who likes blinds? No one, that’s who. They don’t block out the light for those late sleepers, they don’t look particularly intriguing, and if you aren’t hiring a maid (Hahahahaha!!!! Good one!) then it’s very likely you aren’t spending much time dusting the stupid things either. Cover them up by adding a bold heavy window treatment that is not only functional but can add some color where you aren’t allowed to paint. And, quick tip, use the same style rod in every room. That way, when you move, even if the number of windows change, you’ll have consistency rather than having to repurchase all over again.
5. USE YOUR OWN FIXTURES:
Let’s face it, most rentals have the basic package when it comes to lighting fixtures. Mass appeal fixtures never appeal to anyone. So use your own! Remove old fixtures and store on a top rack of a closet, garage, somewhere safe so you aren’t replacing them when you accidentally run them over with the lawnmower or knock them from hiding when you reach for the super soft blanket in the hall closet. And, when you purchase a new fixture, keep the cord length as long as possible, use an S hook to secure at the length you prefer for immediate use, and use a cord cover to hide the overlap. When you move, you can re-adjust as necessary instead of having to rewire the fixture.
6. HANG THINGS ON THE WALLS:
Don’t be afraid to hang pictures, plates, (whatever you are into) on the walls. Maybe not a mirror requiring a team of 5 and a whole package of anchors, but anything that you feel comfortable hanging yourself, DO IT! Home Depot, Lowes, Ace Hardware (pretty much every home improvement store in existence) sells ‘picture hanging kits’. They use nails instead of screws to keep the holes small and they are extremely efficient.
7. IF YOU CAN’T PAINT THE WALLS, PAINT THE FURNITURE:
If you own a lot of wood pieces and they are beginning to become one with the beige walls, paint them. Paint is the easiest most convenient way to change an entire look in minimal time. And the best news….you can repaint something if you don’t like the color. WHAT! Who would have guessed?! If you are in love with a beach theme right now, paint you dining room chairs turquoise, glue on a starfish and call it a day. Get really crazy and paint the hutch to match and hang some sea worthy wall artwork next to it.
I love plants and will happily declare myself a plant fanatic. Even though I’ve killed almost every plant I’ve every purchased, I still love them. And, eventually, they will love me too. Use plants to your advantage. Purchase according to light requirements (my most common mistake – most garden centers will have them separated into groups by light sensitivity), and then place accordingly. Either hang from an edgy geometric basin from the ceiling, or go for tall plants to bring color and dimension to a space. Tip, if you have a narrow space that you really want to decorate with plants, use a shower rod to create a hanging garden. Healthy plants make a room seem full of life and can make all the difference when you need to introduce some soft lines.
9. WALL DECALS ARE NOT JUST FOR WALLS:
Some walls are just not meant for decals. They are heavily textured and what was supposed to be “Live Life Now” instead looks like “Lost Love Cow”. So don’t put them on the walls. Adhere to the side of a dresser, the mirror for a quick inspirational quote in the morning, or a door. Decals are very functional and work just about anywhere.
10. OUTDOOR SPACE:
Where better to escape on the perfect day than your outdoor space. Don’t worry about the boring stained concrete slab or bleached wood deck, lay out your own temporary deck tiles. Most are made from teak so they are highly adapted to an outdoor lifestyle and can add a consistent high end feel where there may have been non before. When you are done, pack them up and take them with you to create another livable outdoor environment.
Decorating a rental to suite your personality is a must. No one should walk through their front door and feel like they are living in someone else’s space. Even though you may need to be a bit creative at times, the end result is one that you will be proud to show off!
Danielle MacCarthy, REALTOR