One of the most popular topics (from a readers / numbers perspective) is helping provide inspiration and ideas for renting. Given that the vast majority of people who live in Boston are in fact renters – over 60% – it makes sense that locals especially would like this topic. I remember growing up hearing that renting was a waste of money and that the goal should be to own immediately. While that may have been true for our parents generation (and their parents generation), it isn’t always the case for those of us in our 20s and 30s.
Let’s look at the positives of renting:
– there’s no long term commitment
– you can experience multiple areas of town
– you can live in different styles homes
– there is little to no financial burden (ex. if something breaks, call the landlord)
Of course, we all know renting has its downfalls. Aside from the financial aspect, one of the biggest challenges of renting, to me, is not having the ability to make the changes needed or desired to turn this house into a home. For example, I cannot rip out the honey oak cabinets and gray speckled faux-granite. I can’t replace the blue (seriously, blue) shower door. I can’t always mount a television, commission custom built bookshelves or build a deck off the back.
My rental living room will never look like this:
My rental kitchen will never look like this:
There are, however, countless projects and updates that can be done to make your rental feel more like a home and more like you. Whether you have one hour or an entire weekend, the list is truly endless. So after must [internal] debating, I have narrowed down a list of my top 5 changes that we, as renters, can do to make our house feel as much like “ours” as we can.
1. Paint your walls: Obviously, this is #1. It’s inexpensive, it’s quick and it’s temporary. (Check out these paint tips here and here). Think outside of the box here – many apartments allow you to paint walls, doors, even cabinets! And, wow, what a difference a coat of paint makes – it can make a room look brighter, bigger or more dramatic.
2. Change the hardware: Hardware can be a total game changer. Not only will an easy switch in hardware turn a typical Ikea dresser into a unique piece, but some cabinet knobs and pulls can transform a kitchen or bathroom or vanity. Some great sources for hardware are Anthropologie (<– my go to!), Restoration Hardware, House of Antique Hardware, My Knobs dot com & Urban Archeology, to name a few.
3. Swap out your blinds: Lucky, for me, my place came with brand new windows and the thick wooden blinds. However, if you’re not as lucky, consider asking your landlord if they’ll reimburse you if you will buy and install new blinds. If not, it may be worth perusing craigslist or see if you can snag some on sale. Another way to hide ugly windows is, of course, add some treatments! A valance or roman shades or set of panels can lead the eye away & enhance your place. Bonus: window treatments can add perceived height to any room. For some helpful tips on how to best hang treatments, see this, this or this.
4. Update the faucets: This may seem like a silly one, but you can easily swap out a kitchen faucet or a shower head for a low price and a big impact. For the kitchen, a classic, stunning chrome faucet (under $200) will never tire. Also, you can take these new faucets with you should you opt to invest more in this area.
5. Lay nice rugs: There is no easier way to cover an ugly floor than by laying down a stunning area rug. I have covered hideous linoleum kitchen flooring with a vintage runner, hidden ancient bathroom tile with a neutral mat and drowned out the aged shade of hardwood with a stunning, oversized area rug. Plus, rugs are a great investment as they can be used in various rooms in various homes. I am willing to spend more on rugs that are versatile as I know that I will use them for years to come.
What’s your favorite way to transform your rental into a home?!