In the many rentals I've lived in over the years, I've never looked at any of them as permanent homes. I didn't plan on staying in any of them for more than a year or two, so there's many things I never did that could have increased my level of happiness and peace within the home.
Want to see what made the list? Quite often when we talk about the upgrades you can make to a rental apartment or home, I am the first to look at the list and balk, saying to myself that none of it is worth the effort. When the time comes to actually move out of your home, no one really wants any additional work, but with a little extra organization and coordination, I've come to realize that I could have had the home I wanted, instead of the home I was trying make feel like me without big impact ideas.
1. Paint, Paint, Paint: Everyone always talks about painting your rental and even though it seems like a great hassle to paint a space and then paint back over it, since paint can be done in a single coat these days, it seems worth your time. When the time comes to paint back over it, pay a friend or neighbor in snacks or cash to come do it for you while you're busy packing. It will keep you working as well!
2. Dealt With Sucky Lighting: There's bad lighting and then there's sucky lighting. Bad lighting means the place is dark and you obviously need a lamp. Sucky lighting is the kind that is enough light, but it's not great and even though a few extra light sources would have helped. You tell yourself you're not really home enough to worry about it, but think about how it would have improved the look of the room to add a few lamps or liven things up.
3. Put Heavy Things On The Walls: Now I'm no stranger to patching holes, but most of them are on the small side. It's easy to shy away from large artwork or heavy pieces because of the hole that they will leave. For the most part, you can patch any hole or paint over any surface with the coordinating color. Life would have been better with my amazing porthole mirror on the wall instead of sitting in the back of my closet for the day I didn't rent.
4. Bought Space Specific Items: When you live with one foot out the door, buying things that are specific for a single space can seem like money spent unwisely. Sure you want to organize that closet and make your kitchen pantry exactly what you need, but buying things that fit in those exact spaces that might be the wrong scale for somewhere else means you make due with what you have and although "making it work" can be a badge of honor, having it be right creates peace of mind.
5. Looked At What It Was Instead Of What It Wasn't: Even though there's no act of buying, repairing or decorating in this last item, it can be an easy thing to forget when you have a less than awesome, but kind of ok apartment. Sure a space might be utilitarian, boring, or even cookie cutter, but a home is a home. Focus on the goodness that you bring to it, smile and laugh and play great music. Make it your own space without worry and don't wish for something else... until it's time to move anyway.