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Studio Blog

July 18th

Renting? Your Space Can Still Be Stylish!

Although this renter chose to use color in the sofa and go more neutral with her art, you can see how the multiple frames offer a simple alternative to expensive wall art.

As you’ve seen on our website and in this blog, we design a lot of amazing single-family homes. But we also work with clients in condos, apartments and even mobile homes! And those smaller spaces become even more complicated when the client is a renter, as I am. Here are some rental interior design tips from my recent experience in spicing up my lovely but neutral one-bedroom apartment.

My first suggestion actually works for any new home: Don’t force furniture or accessories from your previous place into your new one. It might seem like wasted money to replace items that are now impractical in your new space, but over the long haul you will be happier with a balanced room than one that screams otherwise. For example, my new apartment is larger so I wanted to add two upholstered chairs to my living room. I shopped online and got a great deal on the chairs, but when they arrived the scale was off when I placed them next to my existing sofa. So I had to bite the bullet and pay the shipping cost to return them, but that was better than feeling like my living room is awkward every time I walk into it. This is one area where you don’t want to compromise.

Cabinet knobs come in all shapes, sizes and colors.

Secondly – and this also works for any size home – prioritize. Most people can’t do everything within the first few weeks of moving in, or even the first few months. Decide what is most crucial to your lifestyle and attack that first. For me, entertaining is important so my top task was finding a suitable dining room set. Make a list and tackle the spaces in the order in which you use them or those that will bring you the most joy.

Rentals are most always blank slates. The challenge comes in adding color and interest without creating permanent changes that can’t be reversed when you leave. Obviously artwork is a quick way to affect that, but art doesn’t necessarily mean visiting an expensive gallery. For instance, I created a huge collage of frames in my living room that provide graphic punch, color, texture and fun. This was an affordable project too – I simply went to Ikea and bought a selection of basic white frames from oversized to tiny, then matted wallpaper samples in them. How easy is that?

This renter turned her blank slate into a punch of color through furniture and accessories she can take with her when she moves on.

Another way to add personal flair is changing out the knobs and pulls on your kitchen cabinets or bathroom vanities. Anthropologie and Cost Plus World Market offer a variety of chic and charming choices that you can quickly install for a big impact.

Some things in a rental unit are not changeable. You’re probably stuck with whatever flooring you have, although unrolling a favorite rug on a solid floor (or even on carpet) can bring in some of your personal taste. Similarly, your supplied window treatments are likely blinds, but even adding an off-the-rack drape can dress it up if the windows are standard size. Going to be in your place for a while? Consider hiring an electrician to install a few dangling overhead lights, such as a chandelier you can take with you when you move out.

As you make changes, just be sure to retain all of the rental’s original pieces so you can replace them or patch over them before you move on.

Need some help designing your apartment, condo or house? Please contact us for custom interior design services.