Empowering Design Lessons From a Stunning Rental Living Room (That Non-Renters Should Take to Heart Too)

published May 31, 2017
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(Image credit: Anik Polo)

Isabelle’s house tour is endlessly inspiring to me, for starters because it’s just flat out gorgeous but also because it so clearly illustrates how all of the small choices we make can add up to something wonderfully, personally beautiful. And for those of us who are renting, that is pretty damn empowering.

Ok, first thing’s first: Isabelle’s rental living room is not exactly problematic to begin with. In fact, it has supermodel-level good bones for a rental. Yet what makes it so livably beautiful is the thoughtful and personal way Isabelle has decorated it.

(Image credit: Anik Polo)

While Isabelle’s rental is a great canvas to begin with, like all rentals, it has its quirks, as she notes:

“Since the apartment is rented, I had to deal with original elements that I didn’t like, like the kitchen cabinets, the tiles, the ceiling that is not original. I focus on beautiful furniture and accessories to hide and distract the viewer.”

(Image credit: Anik Polo)

Focus on Furniture & Accessories

Isabelle maximized the room’s organic beauty through her furniture and decor choices. Some of my favorite specific design elements that can be applied pretty universally to rental living rooms:

  • Isabelle’s neutral color scheme creates a balanced, cohesive room (without looking too matchy) that works to accentuate the beauty of her extra large windows and hardwood floors. While we all aren’t on the neutral train, her execution illustrates how effective using (at least a general) color scheme can be in creating a room that looks and feels pulled together.
  • Her use of neutrals with stronger moments of black throughout works to create visual interest and a softly elegant mood.
  • Her extra fluffy Moroccan rug anchors the room from an aesthetic standpoint while also adding warmth and coziness.
  • Her simple wooden decor elements and rattan basket planter perfectly echo the room’s beautiful hardwood flooring.
  • Isabelle may keep her colors neutral but she really plays with texture: organic and modern, soft, cozy textiles and hard molded plastic and wood—all of it works to build a room that is layered and interesting.
  • Her space-saving use of two smaller tables function as a coffee table would while keeping the flow of the room open. It’s easy to see how a traditional coffee table could swallow up a lot of this room.
(Image credit: Anik Polo)

Focus on Timelessness

Isabelle’s living room is not going to look dated nor will it “go out of style” any time soon, and that’s because it’s largely decorated from a personal standpoint. Implementing trends can be fun, and adding in a few of the newest looks is a great way to freshen up a room, but when thinking about the big picture – about how you want to feel day-in, day-out in your living room over a longer period of time – you can’t beat decorating from the heart using a vision that resonates with you personally. That’s a takeaway anyone can implement, renters and non-renters alike.