I have shared many different posts on tips and tricks for living in a rental unit. If you are a big city dweller like me, odds are that you are renting your space. Or at least you have rented in the past. With renting comes its many challenges – small spaces, awkward layouts, crazy landlords, unknown time frames, etc. There are so many things that we cannot control as renters so I want to shift our focus onto the ones we can – including decorating! As someone who has been renting for over ten years (yikes!), I can confidently say that I know what works and what doesn’t. Let me share my expertise with you.
Paint everything: When you are a renter, paint is your best friend. Most owners will have a fresh coat of paint thrown on the walls prior to your moving in, which is always needed. If not, consider painting yourself – walls, accent walls, trim, cabinets, etc. You can spend $100 and a day that will have maximum impact. Trust me when I say that a fresh coat of paint makes any space look bigger and brighter!
Hide what’s ugly: Hideous floor? Throw down an area rug. Hideous window? Hang pretty curtains. Outdated kitchen cabinets? Consider open shelving. There are so many ways to cover up ugly areas in a rental. Browse Pinterest for ideas.
Swap out hardware: Even if you aren’t allowed or able to paint cabinets, you can easily swap out the hardware to update any space. Try resources like Anthropologie, Rejuvenation and Amazon to buy affordable yet impactful hardware. The best part is that you can take the hardware with you when you leave.
Buy second hand: Given that every space is different and that the type / size of furniture needed is different, I don’t find it practical or realistic to spend a lot on furniture. Typically, I’ll spend my money on mattresses and sofas but will look for second hand pieces when it comes to side tables, chairs, etc. Remember, rentals are temporary!
Frequent local apps: Speaking of buying second hand, I love scrolling through local sites like Facebook Marketplace, Craiglist and NextDoor. Though much of it is junk, I have found some incredible finds on these. I’d recommend steering clear of upholstered furniture and stick to woods, lacquer, glass, etc.
Hire a cleaner: Hiring a cleaning service to come once-a-month is one of the best decisions that we have made in our rentals. Having our place squeaky clean is such a treat and keeps us feeling sane. I don’t know about you, but I would prefer not to have to scrub a rental bathroom. Well worth the money.
Consider scale: As I said above, every rental is different. The sofa that worked in your previous home may not work in this one. Often times I’ll have clients who can’t make a space work and it’s usually because the furniture is too big or too small! This is yet another reason why I don’t spend a lot on furniture while renting. Scale is everything in home design and this is one are that you do not want to get wrong.
Invest in decor: I know that investing in a decor pieces like art, rugs, mirror or pillows, for example, are worth the money. These are all items that can fit any rental, regardless of the size. They are also items that are versatile and can be used in different rooms. I have art that has come with me from rental to rental and I have made it work in each one.
Bring the outside in: Plants, flowers and greenery are your friend in any space – especially a rental! A trio of hanging plants can warm up a cold, empty corner while a large plant or small tree is a great space filler. Plants are also an easy way to help improve air quality in your home. I love to have fresh cut flowers on my dining table and plants all throughout my home – they bring so much joy at such a low cost!
Get creative: This one is important since designing any home can be tricky – let alone one that you have limitations in what you can do to the space. I love to watch design shows, peruse Pinterest, read other design blogs and magazines to get ideas for creative ways to spruce up my rental. It is really amazing what people can do to improve an otherwise drab space.
What are your top tips for decorating a rental?!