Making a rental feel like home can be easier than you might think! Every landlord is different, and every place is different, but here are a few tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years to make your rental feel like home!
Lighting has such a huge impact on making your rental feel like home! Depending on how bad the light fixtures in the ceiling are, I usually take down the old fixtures, put them away in storage so that when we move out we can switch them back, and replace them with something I love! Make sure you hire a professional electrician, unless you have someone who knows what they’re doing (Dylan does ours), since electrical changes need special attention.
Under cabinet lighting can also make a huge difference in the ambience of your space. I found plug-in strips at Home Depot that have sticky backs that you can place under your kitchen cabinets and easily plug them in to create softer lighting in the kitchen at night instead of having overhead lights on. You can also use this in closets if you don’t have any lights in there.
As far as table lamps, floor lamps and overhead lighting if you don’t have recessed lights, I always use Edison bulbs to create a warm glow at night, kind of like candlelight. You can also take any light fixture you love and turn it into a plug-in. The light fixtures behind our sofa were meant to be hardwired into the wall, but I took them to a lighting store where they turned them into plugins for me for $40.
This is another one that is an easy switch if you have someone who knows how to change them out! Our rental in California is the first space I’ve ever replaced the faucet (besides the house we owned and renovated in New York), because the one in our California home was cheaply made and just wasn’t functioning properly. Make sure to keep your old faucet to put back when you’re ready to move out, but switching out a faucet usually only takes 10-15 minutes and really changes the entire look of a space, whether it’s the kitchen or bathroom!
Paint + Temporary Wallpaper
This is a pretty obvious one, but little bit of white paint can go a long way! A lot of places say you can’t paint the space, or you have to paint it back at the end, and I’m more than willing to have it painted back at the end if it means I can live in a space that I love. I recently painted our 2nd bedroom that I use as an office, along with the backsplash and listed all of my top white paint colors in this post here. If you’re not allowed to paint the walls, there are some wallpaper options where you can paint the wallpaper and it easily peels off when you’re done living there and need to switch it back! You can also just buy peel and stick wallpaper that has a pattern you love and cover the walls as well
You can either paint your backsplash, or there are also options for peel and stick subway tiles that you can buy on amazon to add a little something to your kitchen! I just painted our backsplash recently and it made such a huge difference in opening up the kitchen visually and making it feel fresh and clean!
Texture on Walls
In one of our apartments in NYC, I really wanted a white-washed wood wall, so we went to Home Depot, had them cut up a really thin piece of plywood vertically, I white-washed it with paint, and we used really tiny nails to put the wood up behind the couch. It added so much texture and was a night switch from just regular paint. I’m a huge texture lover, so if I could use wood, plaster, lime wash, stone, bricks and the like on walls, every one would be covered with one of those options! You can checkout the white-washed wood walls in the post here.
Art & Special Objects
Whether it’s a vintage French cutting board, old copper pans, plants, books, or art – there are so many ways to create a space that you love and doesn’t feel like a rental! Those special pieces not only cover boring rental walls, but bring the space to life with your story – the things you love, value, and cherish.
Rugs & Curtains
Thankfully we’ve always had wood floors in our rentals, but even so, they weren’t always visually appealing. Buying large area rugs can cover ugly carpets and wood floors easily!
Curtains are another big YES for making a rental feel like home. Try to add soft pieces wherever you can – a throw blanket on the sofa, long curtains to make a space feel larger, a cozy rug, throw pillows – these all make such big differences in making it feel like your own oasis
I’m not a big fan of lighting actual candles because of the toxins found in most of them, but I love putting Luminara candles in candleholders around our home. They go on around 5:30pm on the timer, and add a beautiful glow around the house throughout the evening.
Countertop Contact Paper
There are so many ways to use contact paper, I’m sure you could spend hours scouring the Internet! I’ve never had to do this, but if you have really unsightly countertops, a lot of people have covered them with contact paper that looks like marble and have said that they’ve lasted for up to 1-2 years.
Kitchen Cabinets + Hardware
Some landlords are totally fine with you painting the kitchen cabinets a neutral color like white, if they’re old and outdated. It’s worth asking if you feel up to the task and are stuck with outdated cabinets. And if you can’t paint the cabinets (I’ve never had to do this but I have friends who’ve done it), you can also switch out the hardware on the cabinets. Anthropologie has some of my favorite options!
If you know me, you know that I will find a way to get a fireplace into whatever space we live in. Our place in Brooklyn already had a fireplace so I used to put faux candles in there to create ambience. Then in our next rental I bought a fireplace mantel that you can see in this post here that used gel fuel (I wouldn’t recommend that now knowing that it was probably sending out tons of toxins into the air we were breathing, but didn’t know that then!), then our house upstate had 3 fireplaces (I was in HEAVEN. It was honestly one of the hardest parts of leaving that house). Fireplaces create a focal point within a space, and also add a cozy feel that makes any space feel like home. Some of my favorite faux fireplaces are from Real Flame!
I hope this post was helpful in thinking of new ways to make your rental feel like home!