10 Ways to Customize a Rental

You don't have to own a condo or a house to make your home yours. Rentals can be challenging (unattractive flooring, standard white walls, outdated light fixtures) but there are plenty of ways to work around the problem and tailor your apartment to your own tastes.

1. Use modular furniture that you can customize to fit your space. Casey Marie's sectional sofa, for instance, splits up into chairs or a loveseat. If her next apartment doesn't have room for a full sectional, she can still use it. For other modular furniture ideas, click here.

2. Emile added lofted storage in an oddly shaped area above the kitchen. If your apartment has high ceilings, utilize the space above your kitchen cabinets to build in extra storage.

3. Rhiannon worked with a problem that many renters face: wall-to-wall carpet. By adding bright accents and layering area rugs over the floors, the carpet doesn't seem so bad.

4. If your rental comes with some surprising color choices (like the bright green cabinets in James and Emily's studio), work with it rather than against it. The green tea towels, dishes, and kitchen chairs make their kitchen seem very pulled-together and bright.

5. One of the best ways to streamline a rental apartment is to consolidate your storage and hide it behind closed doors. The chocolate brown wall in this photo from Alex's apartment is actually an IKEA-hacked wardrobe that holds all of his clothes and separates the living room from the bedroom.

6. To really make an apartment your own, hang some artwork. This cluster of pictures from B, Joe, and Rachael's apartment may leave a lot of holes in the wall, but it's nothing that can't be fixed with some spackle and touch-up paint. If your landlord is dead set against any nails going into the wall, try some picture hanging strips instead.

7. Some landlords will allow you to paint as long as you choose a neutral color (like the light gray shown above in Gingerpop's apartment). Even the slightest hint of color can transform an apartment and freshen up the walls. If you can't paint, bring color into your home through furnishings and artwork.

8. Take down those ugly plastic blinds and dress your windows with something a little nicer: roman shades, floor-length curtains, a screen-printed panel... anything that will soften up your room and complement your decor.

9. Replace outdated ceiling lights with something a little more stylish. Gregory wrote a great how-to that includes detailed instructions for switching out a ceiling shade.

10. You don't have to undertake a full-scale renovation to transform your kitchen. For inexpensive and accessible ideas, check out the Kitchn's list of improvements for renters.


Photos: Casey Marie's, Emile, Rhiannon Smith, James and Emily, Alex, Sarah Coffey, Gingerpop, Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan, Gregory Han, Kyle Freeman

Republished from a post originally published 8.10.2009 -JL

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