How Renting Takes Away Your Individuality - And How To Fix It

Sep 17, 2014

I'm just going to get straight to the point here - sometimes renting really stinks. Don't get me wrong, certain aspects of it are wonderful like not ever having to mow your own lawn. Or do any general home maintenance like fixing leaky pipes or a broken air conditioner. All of that stuff is very convenient and definitely a perk to renting vs owning. My main issue with living in rentals for the past 3 years - the MAJOR limitations when it comes to customizing a space to make it your own.

Everyone wants to come home to their own space that says "Welcome home (insert name here)!" Right?? It's not so fun to come home to a place and being unsure if this is really your unit or did the lady next door leave her door unlocked and you stumbled into her place by accident. I mean, they all look the same right? Same layout, same paint color, same general appliances... you get the picture. Living in a rental is an easy way to throw any home 'character' right out the window.

{Unless of course you live in a rental house in a charming woodsy setting that was built in the early 1900's and has since been remodeled with modern conveniences and window seats. In which case, I am beyond jealous and your life must be near perfect.}

So, moving on. 

Limitation #1 :

Inability to paint. Yes, yes, I know most landlords will allow you to paint the walls if you'd like but there are always stipulations.  For example: getting your paint color approved by the landlord or property manager, or having to repaint the walls back to the exact shade they were when you moved in, before you move back out. But then some places just don't have the option at all. Because painting is such a time consuming process, I would really like to be able to enjoy the color for a while (as in at least a couple of years) before having to do the whole process again. I love the look of the painted walls but hate the actual process of painting so I'd like to be able to enjoy my efforts for more than just a few short months, if possible.

How To Fix It:

First of all, contact your landlord or property manager and see what the terms are in your contract about painting walls, or simply ask them if they would be okay with it. If you get the okay then start painting! If you're not planning on staying in your rental for longer than a year and just really don't want to make too big of a commitment to a paint job then maybe start with a small bathroom, or an accent wall in the living room or bedroom. Whatever you're comfortable with, just go with it!
If you've been denied in your request to paint then try to liven the space a bit with bright colors or interesting patterns like a nice area rug or large piece of wall art. I had a huge tapestry from Urban Outfitters that took up almost an entire wall and it was a wonderful way to brighten up the space and also added a ton of personality. I've since taken it out of my bedroom and am using it in my daughters room - she loves to look at all the colors and patterns :) Also, don't forget to add personal photos to your space to make it feel more homey (just try not to over do it)!

Limitation #2 :

Built-ins are a no no. I have the cutest little nook in my kitchen that could really have so much more use if it had say, a built in bench seat to go with my table? Or some nice shelving to liven up the space and provide extra storage. Not to mention I would lovee to put a window seat in Evelyn's room. The space is most definitely there but I can't customize it (nor would I spend that kind of time on a permanent fix for a temporary home).

How To Fix It:

Ikea! Ikea seriously has so many wonderful options for bookshelves and additions (such as molding or filler) to give the appearance of built-ins without the actual commitment. Or you could always just go to Hobby Lobby and purchase some nice wall shelving and go from there!

Limitation #3 :

Crappy finishes and no way to change them. I think just about anyone who's lived in a rental home would agree with me here. The appliances leave more than a little to be desired and is it seriously too much to ask for a back-splash in the kitchen??

How To Fix It:

Okay, I can't actually vouch for this one myself as I've never tried it before but I have heard pretty great things about contact paper to cover up your ugly appliances (even the fridge!) and I seem to remember mention of a few people using it as a temporary back splash too! Plus, it's extremely affordable. This is something I'll have to try out :) 

If you've found yourself dealing with the same creative set-backs and limiting frustrations that I have in my 3 years of living in a rental home then I hope this article has helped you a little bit! And just for fun here are a few more things you can do to bring a little individuality to your space!

+ Add a wreath to your front door. Inexpensive (and fun!) to DIY and it will make such a big difference!

+ House plants. There's just something about the greenery that makes a place feel more like home. Plus, they help to keep the air in your home clean - win/win. 

+ Keep it {somewhat} organized. No one likes coming home to a messy house. - Fun patterned trays like the one below can certainly help with this!

+ Make a lot of the decor yourself! This will add a ton of personality to your home with very little effort. You'll also appreciate it more and be able to go in any direction you choose as far as colors and themes go. The possibilities are endless. (check out my DIY Pinterest board if you need a little inspiration ;))

Are there any quick fixes that you can think of to add to the list? Feel free to leave it in the comments below, I love getting new suggestions and ideas to make my space feel more like home! :)

xo Olivia

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