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How To Make A Rental Feel Like Home

Homeowners aren’t the only folks who deserve to live in spaces they love. I realize that doesn’t sound like a revolutionary statement, but I’ll admit I’ve felt like it wasn’t worth it to invest energy (and money) in a space that I’m just renting. However, working mostly from home, has made it crucial for me to be in a space I love.

My main obstacle, which I’m sure many of you share, is that I don't have unlimited money but I'm also constrained by the property rules. I can't remove/add walls, add outlets, switch out appliances etc. So I have been doing some digging on how I (and you) can make your rental not feel so much like a cookie-cutter rental.

Replace the lightbulbs

Swapping out the cheap fluorescent bulbs in my bathroom was quite possibly the best “design” decision I made. No longer blinded by the extremely yellow glow beaming out of my Hollywood-style bath bar light fixture, I instantly felt more relaxed. In fact, I replaced nearly every light bulb in my unit’s flush mount lights (aka boob lights). Along with the addition of floor lamps and task lighting, my home still feels cozy long after the sun goes down.

Work with the quirks

Rentals, especially those in older buildings, tend to have cool-looking-but-annoying features like radiators that take up precious square footage. You can add a marble shelf to the top of the radiator and boom—now it’s a nightstand, bookshelf, and all-around useful area. A small quantity of tile from the hardware store is an even more affordable option for creating this kind of surface.


I’m not saying you have to turn your space into a mini jungle, but even a small pothos can bring much-needed color and light into even the most dingy apartment. I love to propagate my plants so that I can have little signs of life all over my house. When I want to bring a burst of different energy into a room, an inexpensive bundle of eucalyptus from Trader Joe’s usually does the trick.

Hang a statement light fixture

Don’t hesitate to replace anonymous fixtures with lighting you love, since you can easily take these pieces with you if you move.

Fake architectural detail

If your home lacks the definition you’d typically get from moldings and trim — and you’re permitted to change the wall color — try fooling the eye with a little paint.

Inject life into all-white bathrooms

Since rental properties are often decorated to suit a variety of tastes, mostly neutral or all-white bathrooms are the norm. To add a dose of personality, pick up a boldly patterned roman blind and shower curtain (and don’t worry about matching up the prints — a little contrast will add even more energy to the space).




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