When I originally published this article, it was 2016 and I was in my fourth rental space in five years. Well now – fast forward to 2019 – and I am in my seventh rental property in eight years. Ahh, big city living!
By this point, I feel confident in saying that I have a pretty darn good idea of what is and isn’t worth splurging on while renting. Aside from the “you’re throwing money down the drain while renting” argument (which I somewhat disagree with), there are certain things that are definitely a total waste of money while renting. For example, I would never opt to install sconces or update countertops or spend money doing any sort of renovation in a rental property. Believe it or not, I have seen people add molding, change lighting, etc and I just think that is a big fat waste of money. Anything that I spend money on while renting (aka paying someone else’s mortgage), I want to make sure that I can take it with me. Additionally, I want it to be something that brings me joy (#mariekondo) and that is a good investment for my future home(s).
Now, I totally get that it’s not always worth splurging on home items. With moving comes scratches, stains, broken pieces, etc. With renting comes small spaces, odd shaped rooms, and the need for specific pieces to make the room “work”. There is nothing more frustrating than spending an entire paycheck on a sofa that doesn’t even fit in your living room 5 months from now when you move. Ugh, renting woes. However; it’s equally no fun to feel like you’re living out of an IKEA catalog. Let’s find the happy medium…
high end linens are always worth splurging on!
Candles + Soaps
One of my top tips for making your bathroom feel luxurious is high end candles and soaps. Something about the delicious aroma gives a spa-like smell and a calming vibe. Well, the same goes for any space when you are renting. You probably know by now that I have my favorite candle burning year round. I can confidently say that our apartment always feels warm and welcoming. Having the scents that you enjoy can not only make your rental feel more like your home but also make you feel more relaxed and at ease. And I can confidently say that our apt always smells good. Also, I always have higher end soaps both in my kitchen and in the bathrooms. I recommending ditching the $2 plastic Target hand soap and spending a bit more on an oversized, glass pump bottle. Hint: you can often find this style soap on discount at HomeGoods.
Start Collecting Art
Over the past two years I have started to collect various art pieces that I love. I have a few oversized, framed photography pieces and a couple of abstract style pieces. Also, we have picked up a few smaller pieces from Africa and Europe while traveling the past few years. Art is totally subjective but if you find a piece that you love, I say buy it! The best collections are made over time, from various sources. I like to peruse yard sales, Craigslist, thrift stores and boutique art stores while we travel. These pieces are going to grow with you in any space and you’ll be glad you bought them. I also tend to including good quality mirrors in this “art” category since they’re so versatile – and let’s be honest, they can be just as expensive!
Find Good Quality Rugs
Rugs are the very first thing that spent money on back in the day when I first started renting out of college. I find that any rug – regardless of size – can be used in various spaces. For example, a runner can be placed in a galley kitchen or a long hallway while a larger 8×10 rug can be utilized in a bedroom or in a living space. Rugs, similar to art, are best collected over time as they are quite expensive. To me, I would rather save up and splurge on a better quality rug that I love than settle on a crappy one that I will replace in a year. For example, I bought a rug very similar to this almost 10 years ago – I have had it cleaned twice and it is still in mind condition. I’ve used it in my bedroom, living room and home office – it’s so versatile!
Purchase Higher End Fabrics
Fabrics…textiles…linens…whatever you want to call them! Apart from window treatments – which I think should be custom fit to your home….but that’s a conversation for another day – I strongly suggest splurging in fabric pieces that not only are used daily but are transferable between any space. To me, this includes blankets, pillows (both bed and decorative) and towels. These upgrades are an easy way to make your home feel more luxurious for an affordable price. I like to mimic my bathroom linens after my favorite spa – fluffy, oversized, white towels hit the mark for me here. In my bedroom and living space, I tend to lean toward higher end fabrics such as velvet, faux fur and silk. I don’t typically buy cheap pillows or blankets because I think they not only look tacky but they feel uncomfortable.
Invest in your Bed
If I had to have only one splurge in my home (rental or purchase), it would be in the bedroom. I am a firm believer – no pun intended – in having a high quality mattress and replacing it every 10 years or so. Yes, they are expensive but we spend almost 30% of our days here. Now I’m not sure about you, but to me there is nothing better than a good night’s sleep. Along with an excellent quality mattress should come excellent quality sheets, pillows and bedding. I am a huge fan of these everyday sheets (in white, of course), these winter sheets (in light gray) and this warm coverlet. I have at least two sets for each bed and I take care of them really well. We get our duvet cover and coverlets dry cleaned seasonally and this makes me feel good about my investment because our bed is so freaking comfortable, let me tell you!