Everyone is at a different stage in life. You might be just starting the process of finding a living situation or you may have lived in various homes or apartments over several years and in different cities. But the chances are you are familiar with the renting process. You have either previously rented, are currently renting or will someday rent a place for the sake of avoiding permanence and long-term commitment in a geographical location. There are lots of benefits to renting an apartment because of this very reason; you can station yourself in an area for an unforeseen amount of time, and avoid homeowner responsibilities — both financial and logistical (such as fixing household issues).
But there are a few downsides to renting. One of course is the lack of long-term investment you are able to generate as a homeowner, as there is the potential to eventually sell your home and make a profit as the market fluctuates over time. Instead, you are paying a monthly rent fee with no return on your investment.
Another issue is the limited ability to make major changes to a rented space, like tearing down walls, changing flooring or replacing cabinets. But you may not be aware that there are several decorating solutions that have the potential to drastically transform and personalize your rented space. Some require a little bit of elbow grease (and possibly the approval of your landlord) and some are a quick and risk-free fix. Learn how to make your rented space feel more like home!
Cover a Boring Wall with a Tapestry or Removable Wallpaper
The default paint color in rented spaces tends to be white, off-white or light beige. Maybe that’s your thing, and you’re aiming for that minimalist look and enjoy the light, airy look of an all-white room. But more often than not, the blank white spaces can feel cold and boring.
To remedy this, spice things up with a large wall tapestry. The best part about tapestries is the easy installation process, which only requires you unfurling your favorite tapestry, and attaching it to the wall by its ends with nails or pushpins. That’s it!
Additionally, wallpaper is making a comeback, and Tempaper has some unique and modern designs that will completely change the way your space feels, and your presuppositions about wallpaper. You might want to ask your landlord for permission before applying this wallpaper, but keep in mind that Tempaper is completely removable and won’t leave behind marks or damage.
Bring Your Space to Life with Houseplants
Renting often means no garden space or landscaping opportunities. Don’t let that fact get you down and instead bring a lush, garden feel indoors with houseplants! They add a tremendous amount of optical life to an otherwise dull place and even have health benefits for their owners. And the best part about this decor decision is you can bring your indoor garden along with you if you find yourself on the move in the near future!
Maximize Your Small Space with the Right Furniture and Mirrors
A common limitation of rented spaces is smaller square-footage. That problem can be made worse by the addition of oversized furniture or using crowded arrangements. Be realistic about the size of your space when shopping for furniture because a gigantic couch or dresser can easily dwarf your living quarters. Aim to simplify your inventory and settle for the pieces you absolutely need. You clearly don’t need four bookcases or a side table at every turn, so stick with the necessities while piecing together your look! If you are lucky to have a large rented space, ignore this advice but glean the overall principle under discussion: buy furniture that is proportional to your apartment or home.
Another way to maximize your space and create the illusion of a larger room is to add mirrors. We realize this isn’t breaking news in the interior design world, but it’s worth mentioning nevertheless.
Cover Weird Carpet or Mask Loud Sound with Rugs
Although security deposits are set in place to inspire renters to avoid damage and neglect, accidents happen, and mystery carpet stains or wood-floor marks are often left behind from renters of the past. Don’t settle for looking at these “character-giving” quirks daily, and cover them up with a rug instead.
Another important reason to invest in a rug is to help drown out the loud sound of feet on wooden floors, especially in an apartment setting. You won’t want your neighbors below you complaining about the elephant-like noises overhead! Also, rugs are downright attractive in any setting and add an element of comfort and coziness, either on carpets or wood flooring.
Remove Vertical Blinds or Hide Them with Curtains
One of our least favorite things about rented spaces are those flappy, vertical blinds often found on sliding doors. Did you know that they can actually be removed? But make sure you don’t get too overzealous and toss those away if you want to see your security deposit at the end of your lease! You can simply store them away during your “stay” and put them back up when all is said and done.
In the meantime, you can install curtains in their place for a more attractive alternative to blocking out light and curious neighbors. If you’re not inspired to remove these unattractive blinds or don’t mind them as much, you can instead hang curtains to at least cover them up a bit! And that applies to every window in your space, as you can add curtains to completely personalize each room and add some life to the white-wall-white-blinds look.
Perfect Your Lighting
Lighting is everything for a rented space. Lighting that is too dim can be depressing and overly fluorescent lighting can be overstimulating. You want to find a balance between the two, and create a comforting and inviting atmosphere with the lighting choices you make, either by using natural or artificial lightning.
To allow the existing natural light to enter your rented space, consider opening your blinds during the day and closing them at night. Some rented spaces don’t have overhead lights in certain rooms, but you can create your own by making an exposed hanging light bulb that won’t leave a permanent mark on your ceiling or wall. Or you can simply add soothing lighting with floor or table lamps. Or maybe you’re more into displaying Christmas lights all year long in a unique fashion. This is a creative and inexpensive way to add subtle and relaxing lighting to any space!
Change Out the Hardware in the Kitchen
Another way to completely personalize a rented space is to hand-select the exact kitchen hardware you want with just a few minutes of handiwork. Simply store away the pre-existing ones and their accompanying screws, and replace them with hardware that fits your style.
Have you had your eye on those adorable knobs at Anthropologie only to find out they’re finally on sale? Are you more into the contemporary look of hardware you found at Home Depot? Perfect! Just make the switch and you’ll be surprised at how an easy fix can make a huge difference in your kitchen’s overall look.
Line Cabinet Shelves to Cover Stains and Chipped Paint
Speaking of improving your kitchen, you can further alter the feel of this high-traffic area by covering up the insides of your cabinets with shelf liners that grip to the wood surface. They are the easiest way to cover up stains of the past or chipped paint. Plus it will make that area feel cleaner, which is important since cabinets are responsible for storing dishes, cups and other dishware. Shelf liners come in various patterns and designs, but some keep things plain and simple. Whatever you do, make sure to get ultra-grippy liners so they don’t slide around or fold over.
Make it Feel Like Home with Accessories and Wall Art
You can make all of the above changes to your rented space, but if you don’t introduce your own personal touch with the addition of accessories and wall art, you won’t feel quite at home. Incorporate meaningful pieces from your travels or other memorable moments, or invest in a new inventory of accessories and wall art altogether. Whatever you do, make it your own! Need inspiration? West Elm has a large selection of pieces to gather ideas from, including wall art, mirrors, and various pillows and other accessories. Or peruse our Pinterest boards to see some of our favorite looks that we’re inspired by!
Tackle a Unique DIY Renter-Friendly Project
If you’re feeling crafty and don’t feel like going the retail route for your decor, you might tackle one of these unique DIY renter-friendly projects! They are undeniably one-of-a-kind pieces that make a statement without breaking your bank. All you need is a tiny ounce of a creative spirit and an afternoon to gather supplies and put it together. And the best part is — they are all renter-approved projects! No long-term commitment or permanency here, folks.
Talk to us!
Try one of these improvements to your rented space and let us know how it turns out or how it alters your living arrangement. The beauty of our community is the collaborative spirit it evokes.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF: Tempaper, Urban Outfitters, Apartment Therapy, Refinery 29, Top 10 Review Of, The Every Girl, Domaine Home, Buzzfeed, The Group, Inc. Real Estate, How to Decorate, Wills Casa and A Beautiful Mess