This Formerly Small Dark Rental Proves the Power of Paint and Styling in a Space You Don’t Own
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Name: Jessica-Sara Morris with my husband Glen and our three boys and one girl. We also have a cat named Zuri!
Location: Vancouver Island, British Columbia
Size: 1,300 square feet
Years Lived In: 2 years, renting
Lifestyle blogger, interior designer and mother to four Jessica-Sara Morris had what one might call a SDR: Small Dark Rental. “Since we rent, we haven’t been able to rip down walls, change cabinet colors, or really do anything structural,” she laments. “When we moved in, the entire home was a medium gray and since the home has little natural light, it felt dark and cold.” Anyone who’s ever rented likely knows this challenge well. Thankfully, painting WAS on the design menu, and that, paired with her beautiful style, was able to transform this home they don’t own. “We have slowly painted every room a creamy white (Simple White from Benjamin Moore) and added cozy textiles in each room to make it feel lived in and cozy while still feeling bright and airy.”
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Modern Coastal with a splash of Vintage Farmhouse
Inspiration: McGee and Co, Magnolia Homes, Jenna Sue Design, Tiffany Leigh Design
Favorite Element: My Gleaming Primrose Mirror. Need I say more? It’s such a statement in our living room and one I saved years for!
Biggest Challenge: Small Dark Rental. Since we rent, we haven’t been able to rip down walls, change cabinet colors or really do anything structural. When we moved in, the entire home was a medium gray, and since the home has little natural light, it felt dark and cold. We have slowly painted every room a creamy white (“Simple White” from Benjamin Moore) and added cozy textiles in each room to make it feel lived in and cozy while still feeling bright and airy.
Proudest DIY: I absolutely love my cane media stand that I DIYed last month. It adds so much character in our space and only cost us $150 as opposed to thousands!
Biggest Indulgence: I’m really lucky to be able to work with brands for a living so the majority of our high-end pieces have been gifted to us. But we did purchase our new “Frame” TV and you guys, I’m telling you, it’s a game changer. All my life I’ve hated the look of TVs and this is a fix. When not in use, it serves as a beautiful piece of art!
Best Advice: You do not need a lot of money or a huge beautiful home to create something you love. Look for inspo from your favorite designers or Pinterest and try to recreate it with paint, textiles, and lighting. I often will build, DIY, and check thrift stores for pieces I can mix with my more modern pieces in my home. Don’t be discouraged when you’re working with small and dark spaces—anything can be beautiful with a little imagination!
PAINT & COLORS
- Simple White — Benjamin Moore
- Sofa — Kavuus
- Coffee Table — Built by us, made to replicate a Restoration Hardware coffee table
- Chairs — Kavuus
- Chandelier — Anthropologie
- Chunky Lamp — Hudson Valley Lighting
- Sconces — Kichler Lighting
- Top Rug — Loloi Rugs
- Bottom Rug — Rugs USA
- Pillows — Tonic Living
- Black Side Table — Article
- Olive Tree — West Elm
- Blinds — Blindsgalore
- Table + Bench — Bed Bath and Beyond
- Chairs — Structube
- Rug — Loloi Rugs
- Basket Light — Troy Lighting
- Bed — Structube
- Side Tables — Structube (I painted black)
- Mirror — Article
- Chandelier — Troy Lighting
- Rug — Loloi Rugs
- Sconces — Hudson Valley Lighting
- Coverlet — West Elm
- Lumbar Pillow —Anthropologie
- Square Pillows — The Citizenry
- Beds — Davinci Baby
- Dresser — Babyletto (I DIY’d)
- Wallpaper — Anewall
- Rug — Rugs USA
- Chandelier — Zuo Mod
- Sconces — Mitzi
- Sectional — Article
- Hanging Chair — Canadian Tire
- Rug — Safavieh
- Fire Pit — Wayfair
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Correction: An earlier version of this post mistakenly said the coffee table was from Article. It was actually built by them and modeled after a Restoration Hardware. We’ve updated it to be more accurate—hopefully, we can blame it on Mercury retrograde.