I’ve moved a total of nine times since I graduated college. Nine times! We’ve lived in spaces ranging from 550 sq. ft. to 2,400 sq. ft. and have decorated around styles that ranged from single bedroom, beige box apartments to our current Victorian with endless charm. We’ve worked around space issues such as more children than available bedrooms and how to fit a home office inside a wardrobe. No matter how far from my dream home each rental has been, I’ve found ways to really enjoy the space and make it feel like ours. Over the years I’ve learned a lot about making the most from a rental, so I thought I’d share my top 10 tips with you.
For this post we are teaming up with our friends at Rent.com, a great source for finding rentals in your area.
1. Switch out standard or unsightly light fixtures. Our last rental had granny-style glass covers over all of the antique light fixtures in the house. Thanks to the advice of a good friend, I realized it was possible to remove them and replace them with Edison bulbs for a much more industrial vibe. Even if you have to put in a little more energy than that, changing dated or dull light fixtures (and storing them until you move out) is an easy way to update your space and make it feel a little more like yours.
(Here’s what the Room Planner tool looks like from this listing in Nashville. We’re not moving with Elsie but I just wanted to show you what it looks like.)
2. Plan the layout of your rooms before you move in. It can be frustrating to move into a space only to discover that some of your furniture (that you already love) doesn’t quite fit how you had planned. To avoid this, plan the layout of your rooms before you ever start moving furniture. An easy tool to help you do this is the Room Planner feature on Rent.com. You can see a floor plan of the space and even digitally add your furniture sizes to the space to see how well they will fit. This can help take away a lot of stress on moving day.
3. Don’t be afraid of putting holes in the walls. Plan out your gallery wall, double check those measurements, and start drilling! It’s one of the layers of decorating that makes a house feel finished and will add so much more charm to a boring rental. You can always fill those holes like a pro the week before you move out.
4. Transform your walls with temporary fixes. The built-ins in my kids’ room were great for displaying special toys, but the dark wood made the room feel small and sad. I enlarged a design onto blueprint copies and trimmed them to fit inside the shelving with double-sided tape. It instantly made the room feel brighter, modern, and so much more fun. You can also opt to use temporary wallpaper or vinyl stickers to add more style to your current color.
5. Cover ugly flooring with a great rug. Our floors weren’t terrible, but there were some unsightly water stain spots in the dining room. I covered it with a rug I made and not only got to enjoy a finished project but no longer had to look at the dark spot on our light wooden floors. Layer a bold rug over beige carpets to help pull together any room and add more interest to your space.
6. Work with what you have. Our last rental included chain link fencing around the entire backyard. It offered little privacy in the winter when the bushes were in hibernation and made it feel like we were living in an empty car lot. I rigged up some fence panels that gave the illusion of a warmer and more modern fenced yard and was able to attach them to the chain link in a way that would make them easy to transport when we moved. Sometimes there is very little you can do to improve upon a specific element at your rental property but other times you just need to think outside the box.
7. Use furniture that does double duty. Decorating your rental(s) with furniture that can work in more than one room or that is multi-functional within a room will make rearranging in the next rental so much easier. Getting the same pieces to work together in more than one layout is hard enough, so using items that can solve a problem in both the living room and kids’ room or kitchen and dining room is incredibly helpful.
8. Hit the refresh button with new accessories. Inexpensive accessories and thrift store finds can refresh your space when your furniture feels tired after another move. Purchasing a few new throw pillows or fun accessories for your mantel can help bring new life into a room even when it doesn’t all fit together seamlessly.
9. Plants cover a multitude of dullness. They seem to have their own personalities and add so much color and texture to a space. Hang a few from the ceiling and place them at varying levels throughout a single room or your whole home to create an extra layer of interest. Tolerant plants or succulents are great options in case you forget to water them while you are getting settled into your new space!
10. Entertain alternative storage ideas. Solve storage problems and create interest in a plain room by repurposing a simple bookshelf into a wardrobe. I added contact paper to the back wall of this IKEA bookshelf, and then installed a simple curtain rod to display and organize my son’s wardrobe. Since older homes often lack much closet space, this allowed me to utilize what little space we did have to keep the larger, louder toys out of sight. I’ve also made a standing wardrobe from both metal pipes and PVC pipes and have used a larger wardrobe with doors to organize and store our office supplies.
What about you? Have you discovered any great tips for rentals over the years? –Rachel
Credits//Author and Photography: Rachel Denbow