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How To: Make a Rental a Home

I’ve been a renter for the last five years and as all my fellow renters will know, it’s quite a challenge to find a space that has everything on your wish list. In fact, more often than not we end up with retro kitchen cabinets (not the good kind), laminate floors that have definitely seen better days, and seriously outdated fixtures and hardware. I can’t tell you how many hours I spend dreaming of marble counter-tops, bleached hardwood floors, bay windows, and grand fireplaces. I’ve spent years looking for ways to spruce up my rentals, and I’m here today to share them with you!

Paint the Walls

If your landlord allows you to paint, definitely go for it. Choose colors that make you feel happy and comfortable, as you always want to feel like you’re coming home when you walk through the front door. Keep in mind that landlords are a lot more open to paint color if you choose something neutral, so if you absolutely love aqua blue, try finding a subtler toned down version of it. Take the room below as an example. The subtle buttery yellow really warms up the space, and is probably landlord-friendly.

Consider Window Treatments

Deck out your windows in pretty new curtains. If your apartment already has blinds installed ask your landlord if you can temporarily take them down for the duration of your lease. If not, simply install your new curtains over top. Rentals are usually pretty standard and don’t have a lot of architectural interest, so try going for a patterned or colorful material to bring some character to the space.

Replace Light Fixtures

Those unflattering fluorescent lights have got to go! Switching out dated light fixtures will make a huge difference, and make your space just that more unique. Look for fixtures that will softly diffuse the light, and if possible, add dimmers. Keep the old fixtures in storage, and simply switch them back when you’re ready to move again.

Spruce up Cabinets

Updating kitchen cabinetry can completely transform even the most hopelessly out-of-date kitchen. Since your landlord probably won’t look kindly on you painting them or ripping them out, you can try one of the following two approaches. Unhinging cabinet doors and going for the open-storage look is a quick and easy way to modernize the space. Just keep them in storage and re-install them when you’re ready to move out. However, if you’re slightly ashamed of the mismatched dishes you’ve been hauling around since college, you may want to keep those cabinets covered. In that case, opt to purchase new cabinet hardware. It’s a quick and sure way to bring new life to a space. Again, keep the old hardware stored until you’re ready to move.

Keep it Clean

It may seem like a no-brainer, but keeping your apartment clean will make it a more comfortable and relaxing place to be. A well-made bed and tidy kitchen will do wonders. Also try using attractive storage containers that double as furniture to hide away clutter. I love the idea of using vintage trunks as a side-table/storage. The more creative the better!

These may not all be options for you, but even just implementing one or two will help! Have you rented before? Do you have any tricks for making the space your own? Let us know in a comment below!