Easy Rental Home Decorating
It's hard to get worked up about decorating an apartment that you don't own – but it's equally as difficult to live in surroundings that don't reflect your style. "A lot of people make the mistake of thinking, 'I'm renting, so I'm not going to do anything to this space, because I'm eventually going to move.' And then they end up staying two, four, five years. Even if you stay somewhere two years, when you get home at the end of the day, if that place is to your liking, it makes such a difference in your psyche."
So what do you do if you yearn for a personal touch but have to contend with a limited budget or landlord restrictions? Plenty.
A multihued rug brings color to a room when you can’t paint your walls.
Dealing with institutional trappings
Perhaps the best thing about most apartments today is that the slate is blank – and usually neutral. Virtually anything you lay on top of this canvas will work.
"If you can't paint your walls or if you have an ugly rug, you can put color into your furnishings with a big, colorful rug or throw pillows or even accent lamps with colored or textured shades,"
Be sure to use a pad between your area rug and the apartment carpeting so the rug won't slide and the carpet won't suffer from color transfer.
While most apartments already have mini blinds on the windows, some landlords allow you to add curtains as well. Simple side panels on a decorative rod can make a dramatic difference in a room by adding a jolt of color and personality. Weave your color choices throughout the apartment with pillows, throws or accessories. A white kitchen can come alive with a colorful teapot on the stove, some attractive dish towels and zesty countertop accessories, such as flour canisters and oversize salt shakers.
Lean artwork against your mantel or walls to prevent nail holes
If you can't make nail holes in walls, a large, framed mirrors you can lean against the wall will add far more personality than one attached to the inside of a bathroom door. Lean smaller pictures against a wall atop fireplace mantels, chest-height armoires orbookcases. Pier 1 Imports offers a handsome wooden easel you can set up in a corner or behind an angled sofa to display framed artwork. Consider making changes that you can easily reverse.
Put new knobs on kitchen cabinets and new lighting fixtures in the bathroom and foyer. You then put the landlord's knobs and lights in storage, and will switch them back before moving.
If you simply must have color on the walls, try creating simple rectangular frames with 1-x-2s from the lumberyard and attaching swaths of fabric with a staple gun. Lean three or five of these against the wall with a bit of space in between. Your fabric can be a solid, print or texture. When you move, Ward advises, use hinges to turn the panels into a folding screen, or remove the fabric and use to make pillows or other decorative touches.
Small spaces require creativity. This gate leg table in the entryway...
Coping with small spaces
Choosing multifunctional furniture helps apartment dwellers utilize tight spaces with elegance. A dining table may do double-duty as a home office desk. Or a computer armoire – with doors that hide your office away when not in use – may have enough extra room to store books or blankets.
If you don't have enough room for a dining table surrounded by chairs, try creating a banquette-type setting, with a bench against the wall, the table in front, and chairs on the open side. If the bench has storage beneath the seat, all the better.
...turns into a dining table when company comes over.
Other multipurpose pieces could include a sturdy ottoman that doubles as a cocktail table or a futon chair or sofa that pulls out into a bed for overnight guests. Storage must be creative. Put a skirt around a bathroom sink to hide necessities, and even use two tension-mount shower rods – the interior one is for the waterproof liner and doubles as a towel rod after your morning shower; the exterior one holds an attractive non-waterproof shower curtain (you can easily fashion one out of nice fabric) and hides the drying towels from view.
Let a folding floor screen fill up the blank space of a corner – and stash anything you like behind it. Use attractive trunks as coffee tables or end tables and hiding blankets or magazines inside. A sofa table or console provides height for displaying accessories or pictures and leaves plenty of empty space beneath for stacks of beautiful wooden or rattan boxes or suitcases, which also can be filled with a host of belongings.
By Diane Benson Harrington