My husband and I have lived in 7 houses in 8 years. All of those were rentals, except one. To say I’ve got experience in making a rental property a home for my family of 5 is a vast understatement.
Having to balance respect for my landlord with a commitment to making our home homey is a familiar struggle. I think there are two camps of renters, that come in varying degrees. On the one hand some people do nothing to make their mark on their rental. It looks and feels just like the next white-walled apartment. On the other hand, I’ve seen people take it way too far in the other direction. They put tons of money and time into a temporary rental, and sometimes even run into problems with the landlord.
So I’m going to lay out 4 ways to welcome spring in your rental. No matter the restrictions your lease puts on you, there are creative ways to turn a bland cookie-cutter space or a house full of not-your-taste-of-bold-and-colorful-walls into a place that reflects your taste and vision.
At the outset, let me say that whatever changes you make, be sure to get written permission from your landlord. This will save you a lot headache in the end.
Dress Up The Walls
Depending on the flexibility that your landlord has given you, there are going to be non-negotiables: those things you cannot touch.
In the house we’re renting right now, the focal wall in our livingroom is a bold, blue color. One that I would never, ever in a million years choose. I asked my landlord if I could paint it the cream color of the other walls in the room, and the answer was “No”. In this case, I’ve had to work around the blue wall. I’ve had to bring neutral colors into the room, so as not to clash with the blue wall or draw unnecessary (or unwanted) attention to it. You’ve got to work with the stuff you can’t change, not against it.
I used the blue wall to house a gallery of family photos, and that diminishes the harsh feel of the color. Adding visual interest to the walls with mirrors, photos, paintings, and curtains all work wonders, even on a room with a bright blue “focal” wall.
Elbow Grease and Upgrades
Oftentimes landlords are open to allowing you to make upgrades on a rental if you foot the cost. Check with your landlord first, but if you have the greenlight, here’s one change I’d consider making.
Even the house is not updated, a fresh coat of paint will make a big difference. Painting the walls makes a big difference, at a low cost. I’d say consider painting particularly obnoxious rooms if you’re going to be in a home for over a year.
Choose colors that reflect the sun and warmth that come with the spring. Bring the outdoors in. Warm yellows, grays, greens, and neutral tones will all bring a soothing tone to your home.
One way to welcome the spring is to incorporate plant-life into your design, outdoors and in. There are inexpensive houseplants that are virtually impossible to kill (trust me, I have the most non-green thumb ever). A little pop of green makes a big difference.
Warm weather means you can get outdoors more often. I have found many landlords are open to renters improving the landscaping. Again, be prepared for these expenses to come out of your wallet.
If you’re planning on sticking around a rental for a little while, improving the landscaping around the front of the house may be worth your while. Find affordable bushes and shrubs that will flower and add a big aesthetic punch to the facade of the house.
Accessories, Accessories, Accessories
There are a lot of things you can’t control in a rental, but some you can. Fill the house with storage and shelves to display your stuff. Bring decorative pieces and textures into your design. This will have a big effect on the vibe of your room.
Most rentals have harsh lighting. I go a little lamp crazy, in this case. I rarely use ceiling light fixtures, but litter each room with multiple, dim lamps at varying heights.
Hopefully what I’ve learned in my 7 moves can help you, as you adjust to life in a rental. Perhaps, like me you love design but are restricted by your lease. With these tips you’ll find you can make any house your home this spring, no matter how temporary your stay.
How about you? How do you like to spruce up your rental in the spring?