Helpful Hints

Rental Style: Six Ways to Make a Temporary Residence Feel Like Home

Whether they enjoy living the nomadic lifestyle or just can’t afford to buy a house yet a lot of people are renting where they live.  While there are certainly some advantages to renting, one major downside is that there are often restrictions on what you can do in terms of decorating.  If you don’t give a space your personal touch, it can be difficult for it to really feel like home.  Luckily there are some easy ways to help make a rental feel more like a permanent residence and less like a hotel.  Of course check your lease/with your landlord to see what kind of alterations are allowed before starting anything too major – we don’t want to stop you from getting back your security deposit!



Have Fun with Furniture

If you’re lucky you can paint the walls of where you’re living, though you’ll probably have to paint them back to white before leaving.  Unfortunately a lot of people renting aren’t allowed to paint.  Those who fall into the latter category don’t need to despair, you can still add color to your place by painting some of the furniture.  While you may want to keep larger, more expensive pieces of furniture like sofas and lounge chairs in neutrals so they can easily fit into new decors, you can definitely have some fun with smaller pieces of wood furniture.  Side chairs, accent tables, bookcases, even desks and dressers are all prime candidates for getting a coat of bright, bold paint.  If you look for pieces that come unfinished it’s easy to add whatever color you want.



Get Rid of Plain White Walls

Just because you can’t paint doesn’t mean you have to live with the plain walls that come with the place.  An easy and mess-free way to spruce up the walls is to use temporary wallpaper.  Super easy to apply and remove you won’t have to worry about causing any damage to the walls that you’ll need to fix before leaving.  If you’re still nervous about applying anything to the walls, or you find a regular (non-temporary) wallpaper that you love, you could also buy a large wood panel, put the wallpaper on that and (carefully) lean it up against the wall.  Obviously this works better for just one accent wall than the whole room.



Rugs to the Rescue

Even if the place you’re renting has wall-to-wall carpeting don’t rule out adding some rugs to the space.  Rugs are a great way to add a personal touch while also making the room feel cozier and more welcoming.  If you don’t like the flooring the place comes with, large area rugs are a great way to cover it up.  Even if you do like the floors, consider adding rugs or vinyl floor coverings in high traffic or potentially messy spots (like under a dining room table) to help keep the floors underneath unscathed and to not jeopardize your security deposit.  One of the best parts about rugs is that when it’s time to move on you can easily roll it up and take it to the next place.



Banish Bare Walls

You may shy away from hanging things on the walls either because you’re not allowed to use nails or just don’t want to worry about having to patch holes before moving.  But with plenty of options like easily/cleanly removable hooks and washi tape there’s no excuse to leaving the walls bare.  Hanging mirrors, your favorite works of art, and personal photographs will all help the space feel more like a home.  You don’t need to cover every inch of the wall in various wall accessories, but you should definitely consider at least a few statement pieces throughout the space.  Works of art are also another great opportunity to add some color to the walls you may not be able to paint.



Embrace Open Storage

The sad fact is that many apartments just don’t have enough closet space.  There are plenty of tricks for adding storage to smaller spaces, but one option that will help your temporary residence feel more like home is the use of open storage.  Open storage like bookcases and shelves can help you add more of a personal touch to the room since they provide not only storage but areas for display.  It also adds more opportunity to add colors and textures to the space since what’s on the shelves will be seen.  Low or open bookcases can be used to help divide up the space and make it more your own as well since they’ll help designate areas while still allowing light to pass through.



Accessorize and Personalize

Even though this tip is last, it’s really at the heart of all the tips on this list.  The best way to make a temporary space feel like home is through personalization.  While all of the previous tips also achieve this, accessories are probably the easiest and cheapest way to personalize the space.  Since most accessories are fairly small they can travel with you from place to place and once unpacked can help bring a bit of personal history to a space that’s otherwise lacking it.


How long you plan on staying in a place may determine how much effort you want to put into decorating.  But even for the shortest of stays you want to feel settled and at home.  Following all or some of these tips will certainly help you achieve that feeling.  The key ideas to remember are personalization, and to choose projects that are easily un-doable to get the apartment back to its original state when it’s time to leave.  A rolling stone gathers no moss, and a rental should gather no permanent customization.

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