Tips to Transform a Rental with Paint

Tips to Transform a Rental with Paint

Mark Chamberlain
Jul 13, 2010

"What can I do with my rental apartment to give it a face lift? It looks like it was dipped in glossy paint and rolled in lint, but I don't want to spend a fortune because it is a rental…" If you're lucky enough to be able to paint, the answer, once again, is color.

Paint is cheaper than wallpaper, drapes, furniture or art, and is the first place you should go for a bang-for-your-buck upgrade. Though before and afters can't quite capture it, the paint finishes in this instance were particularly egregious, and looked like a slumlord painted the walls with his feet.

But the apartment in question is so cute! It's a duplex, two bath, slipper of a thing with a spiral staircase leading up to heaven, a deck with more heaven and all those windows.


1. Start With White For starters, any paint schedule of mine lately includes Ultra Flat Ceiling Paint in white.

2. Finishes are Important! After a flat ceiling, I like matte walls, satin trim and where possible, I'm using Bath and Spa paint from Benjamin Moore in my water areas — it has a matte finish and is water and mildew resistant.

3. Select an All-Around Color We needed an all-around color and settled on Farrow&Ball Pavillion Gray 242.

4. Add Accents of Coordinating or Contrasting Color This is really egalitarian — what follows is one paint color from each company. The office is a Frenchy blue from Benjamin Moore's Affinity line, Instinct AF-475, (you can see it through the doorway between the kitchen and sofa). The kitchen backsplash is S2060-r from Fine Paints of Europe — it's a bit more expensive but that quart is well-used for its scrubbable dense pigment.

5. Choose a Focal Point The centerpiece of our color design is that dark wall behind the stairs. At first, we were going to put Ralph Lauren Blue Leather VM147 behind the console when you enter the room, but the more I thought about it, it wanted to be in the middle of our color collage, to suck you into the room, balance out the kitchen and office and lead you up those stairs.

What lies up those stairs is the subject of next week's article.

Ultra Flat Ceiling Paint, white
Farrow&Ball, Pavillion Gray 242
Benjamin Moore Affinity, Instinct AF-475
Fine Paints of Europe, S2060-r
Ralph Lauren Blue Leather VM147

- Mark Chamberlain, interior and decorative painter

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