I've lived in a lot of rentals, so I've had to get good at making temporary customisations to apartments to make them feel a little more like they're mine. I know I'm not alone in needing to make a rental feel like home, so if you want to turn your place into something that welcomes you after a long day, here's what to do.
Image from girlgeek.
First off, talk to your landlord or review your lease to find out what changes you can and can't make. Next, set a goal for yourself. You have a lot of small upgrades you can make, but if you have too many changes on your list you could get overwhelmed and that's the opposite effect we're aiming for. Ask yourself these questions as a starting point to figure out what you want to change (and what you can learn to live with):
- What in your rental make you feel the most dread when you see or use it?
- How much are you willing to spend to customise your place?
- How much effort are you willing to put into changes (and reversing them when you move out)?
- What changes can you make and still retain your deposit?
- What themes or parts of your apartment do you like?
Once you have an idea of how much time, energy and money you're willing to put into transforming your space, you'll know what you should tackle. Some things that might be on your list (ordered from least extreme to most):
- Easy to remove decorations. Go for items that spark joy when you see them. From cute air-filtering plants to gallery walls featuring photos of your favourite people. You can also achieve this with throw pillows or blankets that show your personality. If you decide to add plants (which I highly recommend, it made me love my living room), make sure to buy ones that match with the level of light your apartment gets. A dead plant isn't going to make you or anyone else feel at home.
- Everything has a place. This isn't about being organised or neat, it is about feeling like your stuff belongs in the rental. Something as simple as a coat stand by the door and a dish for your keys can instantly make you feel more at home when you walk in the door.
- Simple upgrades that change how a room feels. Curtains, lighting and comfy carpets all fall into this category. They're easy to do and they can drastically change the mood of a room by introducing certain light and colours or textures.
- Larger scale upgrades for big impact. Paint, temporary wallpaper or backsplashes are more work and money, and may be harder to reverse, but will make a huge difference in how much your apartment feels like you. You can also swap out the hardware on your kitchen cabinets, closet doors and even your front door.
If you plan to live in a place for a few years, you might be able to negotiate with your landlord to make larger changes, like swapping out carpet for laminate or hardwood if you cover part of the cost. They may even agree to things like you painting the walls since if you're in a place for over a year, they're likely to have to paint anyway when you move out (to cover dings and marks that fall under normal wear and tear). Some of these changes seem big and expensive (and they are), but if you think about how much time you spend at home, they could pay off in how much they improve your happiness in the long run.