Making a rental feel like home can be an absolute nightmare.
When my boyfriend and I moved into our first place together, we didn’t have a lot of furniture or decor. Luckily we have been able to accumulate enough furniture to fill this place out — whether it was gifted or purchased and redone. But despite the furniture, we struggled making this place look like a home.
10 months in to the lease and I can officially say that this place feels like home. Too bad we’re moving in 2 months…
But luckily, the strategies that I learned to use in this rental will also be strategies that I can use in our new rental. They’re also strategies that YOU can implement to make your rental feel like home.
The number one thing that I want you to remember though: home is where the heart is. It’s truly about who you’re sharing the space with. Whether you’re living alone, with a partner, or have a family — the rule still applies. Self love, the love of your spouse, or the love of children or pets are what truly make a house a home.
The next thing I want you to remember is pretty much the end goal: make the place look lived in. I mean really… It’s as simple as that. Now don’t make the mistake of thinking that this means you need a ton of furniture or fancy interior design elements. Because that’s not what I mean. What I mean is that you need to make this place personal and include your own touch into it to make sure that it actually looks like you live here.
The other important thing about rentals, is that you’re most likely only going to be there for a year. So don’t take your time making a rental feel like a home. My boyfriend and I weren’t really concerned about it when we moved in, and now that we have this place how we like it we’re going to just pack it all up and start over!
So I encourage you to really spend the first month in a new place adding your own personal touches. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you can make a rental feel like home this way.
This post contains affiliate links for some of my favorite home decor items, but I only recommend items that I actually love! Check out my disclosure policy.
Let’s talk about different ways that you can do this.
What better place to start than at the front door, right? Create an actual entryway! I know that in most rentals, especially small apartments, this seems tricky. But it’s really not as difficult as you might think.
I used to think that in order to create an actual entryway that you needed some type of cute table or bench. But really, you don’t need to make it that hard on yourself.
And there you go. You have an entryway.
If you have space, you might consider adding a tall, small square table by the door too for purses or wallets to go on. If you do this, you can place the shoe basket under it. But if you don’t have room, then don’t fret.
I personally noticed a HUGE difference just by adding a basket by our door for shoes. Less clutter and a decorative element at the same time. It’s a win-win.
The absolute easiest way to dress up a living room is by covering those cheap blinds that typically come in rentals. Adding curtains is super easy. And if your landlord doesn’t want holes in the wall from a curtain rod, use command hooks to hold the rod instead.
I might actually use command hooks to hold our curtain rod in our next rental simply to get away from the pain of having to actually hang the rod (or to help Tony get away from the pain of having to hang it).
The thing to consider with curtains, however, is to make sure that they are bright and allow for light to come through. If they don’t, your space will start to feel dark and cold. And that is the OPPOSITE of what we are going for. So remember, keep it light and bright.
Hang stuff on the walls:
This is one of the most difficult, but EASILY the one that shows the MOST change.
I know most rentals have rules against hanging things on the walls if you want your full deposit back. However, there are so so so many ways around this. You have options!
You can hang stuff on the wall anyways and just use cover in the holes when you move out (with toothpaste, a bar of soap, etc.), OR you can use command strips.
They make specific command strips for hanging frames or decor on the walls and they’re relatively cheap. You can hang at least 10 different things on the wall for under $10 and absolutely no fuss (but I hang more than that). Also, these things are almost half the price on Amazon than they are anywhere else.
The way these work is kind of like velcro, but more heavy duty. They come in small, medium, and large sizes + the size depends on how heavy the thing you are trying to hang weighs. 4×6 or 5×7 frames can be hung up by one small strip. Bigger decor like canvas items can be hung with 2 large strips. If you ask me, I think the medium strips are pretty pointless.
Either way, these things STICK. But if you need to take the frame off the wall to switch out the photo or take your chalkboard calendar down to fill it out every month, it is SO easy to take off and just as easy to put back on.
The directions for these recommend putting one strip on each side of the frame vertically… But if your frame is really light, which most are, you can put one strip horizontally along the top edge of the frame. Doing so pretty much doubles the amount of things you can hang with one package of the strips.
And to top it all off, I’ve never had any issues with these things not being able to hang a flat decor item or frame on the wall + I’ve never had the paint damage when I remove the sticky backing from the wall.
It really is amazing seeing such a drastic change from simply hanging stuff on the walls. And don’t forget to get creative with this!
Check Etsy for cheap prints, print out quotes you like from Pinterest, hang small frames of your favorite memories or loved ones. Thrift stores and yard sales are also great places to find cheap, unique pieces of art.
We also hung a chalkboard calendar in our kitchen and it made a huge difference in that space. It fills up an entire wall that would otherwise by a plain, empty space.
Add some life:
Potted plants or fresh flowers… the result is MAGICAL. I swear. Nothing (well, decor wise anyways) makes me happier than an actual living thing in my home.
Now, I will admit that I have been saying I wanted to go out and buy a potted plant for our living room for over a year. And I never did. Just because I would kill it. I know it.
But my mom has an intense green thumb and just gifted us a few potted plants from her yard for our patio and living room. So, here’s to hoping! Plants, please please please stay live.
Either way, my boyfriend makes sure I have fresh flowers in the house pretty often. And like I said… the result is magical. I find myself sitting on the couch staring off at my flowers more often than I’d like to admit.
Play around with textures:
This is by far my absolute favorite way to turn a rental into a home. Textures — pillows, rugs, blankets (curtains could also fall under this). I’m not one for a lot of color, but I am one for a lot of texture. The key here is mixing all of the different textures together.
In our living room we have white faux fur throw pillows (my favorite home decor items that I own!!!), knit blankets, a leather couch, a canvas slipcover on a love-seat, a thick low cut rug, ceiling to floor curtains. And this room seriously gives off the best vibe in the apartment. It’s just cozy. And I love it.
My favorite combination is the faux fur pillows against the dark leather couch. The contrast makes it.
These tricks are all so easy to implement into ANY rental. Do it now so you don’t regret not doing it sooner!
Do you have any more tricks or tips that you’ve used to make your rental a home? My home is a constant work in progress so I’m always looking for other ideas!
Don’t forget to follow me on Pinterest for more of my favorite design ideas.