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We all have a dream home. Mine is two stories and bears a striking resemblance to the Father of the Bride house. Unfortunately, Kyle and I move around quite a bit, so homeownership hasn’t been for us in the cards yet. We’ve essentially become short-term serial renters over the past few years, and I’ve picked up quite a few helpful tips for decorating a rental home in the process. Sure, if you have the time and resources, you can paint, replace knobs, switch outlet plates, and even update appliances. However, most upgrades assume you’ll also have the time and resources to undo everything when you move out. With shorter term leases, you’re more limited in the changes you can make. Since Kyle and I are now self-designated experts on house and apartment hopping, I’m sharing 5 tips for how to make a rental feel like home in today’s post.
1. Unpack ASAP.
Unpacking is the worst, especially if you move often. That being said, the single best piece of moving advice I’ve ever been given is to bite the bullet and unpack everything as soon as you can. No rental home, apartment, or dorm room will ever truly feel like home if it’s riddled with boxes and devoid of sentimentality. Plus, if you’re anything like me, the pressure of promptly unpacking will far outweigh the stress and anxiety caused by unsettledness and disorganization. So, recruit your friends, family, professional movers, or whomever and get the job done. Stat.
I should also clarify that clothing may be the one and only exception to this rule. In fact, one of my favorite packing tips is to separate clothes by season. That way, you can avoid unpacking summer clothing in the winter and winter clothing in the summer.
2. Focus on your favorite spots.
When you’re renting, especially in the short term, it’s unlikely you’ll have the time, energy, or finances to completely customize the space in such a short amount of time. So, whether it’s the balcony, porch, kitchen, or wherever you spend the majority of your time, identify your “happy spaces” and focus your artistic energy there. Make them cozy, warm, and full of character. Even if the rest of the place isn’t perfect, you’ll feel right at home when you’re relaxing in these special spots.
For me, it’s our front porch. It’s straight out of a Southern Living magazine. The pups and I spend as much time out there as we possibly can, so I’ve put 10x the effort into its decor than anywhere else. Even when the rest of the house is in complete and utter disarray, the front porch makes me happy, and that’s (usually) good enough for me.
3. Avoid cheap disposable furniture.
Living in a rental property doesn’t have to mean living with cheap disposable furniture. In fact, there’s no quicker way to make your space look like a tacky college dorm room. That being said, quality furniture is notoriously expensive… and even more notoriously expensive to move. If you’re hesitant to invest in well made furniture because you never know where your journey may take you (admittedly like us), check out CORT! They offer dozens of different furniture rental packages for students, military families, and everyone in between, and they come straight to your home to drop it off and pick it up. CORT also offer flexible leases for temporary assignments, even if you’re not sure how long your work assignment will be. It’s essentially furniture on demand, and it’s awesome.
From a woman who’s moved 6 times in the past 2 years, there’s no easier way to furnish a short-term rental. We’ve absolutely loved working with CORT and recommend them to everyone we know. You can read more about our experience with CORT Furniture Rental here.
4. Liven up your space with fresh flowers and plants.
Breathe some life into your rental home, apartment, or dorm room with fresh plants and flowers. Not only are they pretty, they also add natural textures and colors to your space, help improve air quality, and generally make people feel calmer and happier. Whether you go the potted route or the planted route, this is one of the easiest ways to add color to your space without painting walls or hanging artwork.
Also, keep in mind that if you love gardening, you can take your favorite plants, flowers, and herbs with you when you leave. Just make sure to leave the yard just a nice (if not nicer) than you found it.
5. Play hostess.
Nothing says “welcome home” like a housewarming party. After all, home isn’t necessarily a place; it’s a feeling. There’s no better way to settle into your rental than by inviting friends and family over to laugh, love, and create memories.
Even if you’re just a party of four (two humans, two fur babies), I like to think it’s cozy porch moments like this that helped coin the phrase “home sweet home.”
I hope y’all enjoyed my tips for how to make a rental feel like home. If you’ve got any questions or decorating tips for renters of your own, let me know in the comments. I’d absolutely love to hear them!