Big city living is hard. High rent, lack of parking, and pretty tight restrictions on what you can change about your rental space is enough to deter many from the hustle and bustle of the city, but for those who enjoy it, do not fear! With the help of Aileen from At Home in Love, and Kyle Schuneman via Sunset Magazine, we have concocted a list of 10 simple solutions for those who don’t mind a little DIY and creative thinking in order to make their space feel like home. Read on for these great tips on how to transform a standard space into your own.
1) Play up good bones – If your rental space is older, you may have beautiful detailing such as wainscoting or detailed molding that can be highlighted. Painting the molding white and the walls a color will create a contrast and a pop of historical interest, like Kyle did in his own home. This could also make your space appear bigger, drawing your eyes to the ceiling where the molding would be. Unfortunately, not all renters are as lucky, and some landlords refuse to let their tenants paint their walls. Never fear! You can always paint other things to incorporate pops of color, whether that be a flea market find, a vintage hand me down, or a cheap new piece of white furniture. This is an instance where your own taste and creativity can really shine!
2) Customize, customize, customize – The industrial look is in! Luckily, your local hardware store can help you create that look in your own home. A few pieces of lumber and interesting piping parts can create a customized bookshelf that is as deep or as narrow as your rental space needs. If the industrial look is not your preference, websites such as IKEA Hackers can give inspiration on how to take purchased parts and create a masterpiece of your own desire.
3) Create an illusion of space – Hanging curtains can help make your space appear taller, especially when they are hung closer to the ceiling. Not only can curtains help to create the illusion of a larger volume, they can also conceal the ugly blinds that are often standard in a rental unit.
4) Work small spaces – Paying attention to even the littlest corners makes a rental really feel lived in, specifically in places such as a narrow hallway. A small storage cabinet and interesting wall décor can draw your eye to other parts of the room, making it appear larger and more cohesive.
5) Hide those flaws – A landlord can only do so much after each tenant leaves their rental unit, and usually prefer to spend the most minimal amount of money to do so. There may be flaws in walls, flooring, baseboards, cabinetry, and countertops. Schuneman covered a dated mirror over his mantle with a printed canvas. Flaws in the walls can be covered by art, wall décor, paint, and even removable wallpaper (read on for more on that)
6) Add graphic interest that suits your personality – There are numerous things that can help bring your own personality into a rental apartment. Especially, graphics. These can come from art, paint, wall décor, patterned textiles, and the newest trend – removable wallpaper! Artwork, photos, and decorative touches can really make a house a home, even if it’s just a temporary one. Removable wallpaper is definitely a breath of fresh air for renters. There are many companies that sell it in multiple patterns and colors. They are easy to install and even easier to remove once your lease is up! Large quirky graphics from a flea market such as old maps, vintage bus signs, or even educational posters can also add plenty of interest to a fundamentally dull space.
7) Change up the hardware – So you plan on living in your rental for a few years? And, you have a really laid back landlord? Double bonus! Ask if you can change out any dated light fixtures, plumbing hardware, or cabinetry hardware, always keeping the original in a safe place for when you move out. Changing light fixtures can add a fresh modern touch, and maybe even save you on electricity costs based on their efficiency. Changing plumbing hardware may be a bit pricier, but can also reduce on water costs if they are outdated or leaky. They will also look great and add a sense of modernity and sophistication. We all know those basic rental fixtures are pretty drab, unless it’s a newly built complex. Cabinetry hardware is so common at nearly every lifestyle/hardware/home décor store. There is no doubt you may come across pieces that you want to switch out your old hardware for. Kitchen and bathroom cabinetry can look brand new just by making those simple changes.
8) RUGS – Rugs can make a huge statement in a rental unit. Beat up, faded, ugly hardwood floor? There’s a rug for that. Unsightly carpet stain from the last tenant that your landlord didn’t want to fix? There’s a rug for that too. Even simply cutting up the monotonous wall to wall carpeting that some rentals have with a brightly patterned rug can add that pop of interest that a room needs.
9) Store Stuff in Collections – Your rental may definitely be short on storage, and simultaneously pretty small. Storing stuff in the open and in collections can actually be an advantage. Unique glassware and dishes can be grouped in a kitchen to add color, and will be practical and beautiful. A collection of vases can be stored on an open console, and are ready for use whenever necessary. Books also always make a beautiful display, and are also even more useful being read than not.
10) Fresh flowers and plants – Nothing makes a space feel homier than fresh plants. They are a way for a renter to bring the outdoors in, no matter what season. Because they are not outside and do not have access to as much natural sunlight or precipitation, it is best to choose plants that are easy to keep alive, such as succulents, cacti, and African violets. Or, if you are one to remember to switch out flowers often, Trader Joes or your neighborhood florist will always have a great selection of fresh flowers to choose from.
Yes, it’s a rental, not your forever home. You’ll only be there for maybe a year or two. But, that doesn’t mean you cannot purchase that sofa you absolutely love, or that dining table you have been eyeing for 6 months. So many people put off buying quality furniture while they are renting. Of course, you may not want to get that giant sectional that will take up nearly every inch of your tiny studio, as there’s definitely a degree of practicality that needs to be considered. But, if you most likely love that furniture now, you will love it in the future and will make a place for it once you invest in a home. Or, you can always sell them!
Caisson Studios may not work in rented spaces, but as designers we understand sometimes it takes a lot of creativity and elbow grease to make a space beautiful and practical. Our portfolio shows plenty of inspiration that can be translated into a leased space, and you can even discuss ideas with any of our designers! Give us a call today!