Turning your house into a home is all about customizing it to suit your priorities and preferences. That’s why so many of us are drawn to remodeling and design projects, TV shows, magazines, and more. But what homeowners can pull off on channels such as HGTV can sometimes feel a bit out of reach of those of us who rent our spaces.
And that includes a lot of us. More than 100 million Americans rent their homes, and that means that more than 100 million of us do not have unlimited permission to do things like knock down walls to create open-concept living spaces.
Fortunately, renting your space does not mean that you are out of options for transforming your living area. Here are a few ways to get the most out of your rented home.
Focus on wall art
You may or may not be able to paint or wallpaper the walls of your rented apartment, but you can surely hang stuff up on them. And you might be surprised to see just how completely a home can be transformed just by messing with what’s up on the walls.
Start by hanging art that makes you happy and comfortable. Customized canvas prints from companies such as Simple Canvas Prints are a great place to start, because they’ll allow you to create art-quality wall hangings that still reflect your distinctive personality and sense of style.
And using canvas gives us a jump-start on a key factor in customizing walls with art: texture. You should mix textures to give your space a more comfortable and interesting feel. Consider hanging fabrics like quilts and tapestries, and mix those textures with more traditional options like framed photographs and art. And why not add a nice glass bong to your living room? There are many beautiful varieties available today from headshops like SmokeSmith Gear, and they are both useful and artistic.
Use (affordable) furniture and rugs to redefine spaces
You may not be able to knock down and put up walls in your apartment, but you can create a similar sort of “zoning” effect by dividing spaces with smart use of furniture and area rugs. Interior designers love to talk about zones, and you’ll find that they’re not so hard to create if you have the right furniture and rugs to display.
To create a zone, just start with a rug that suits the area or divide the space with a piece of furniture, such as a sofa jutting out from the wall. At the same time, be careful not to cut off areas entirely — you want your zones to flow.
You may have to invest in some new rugs and furniture to make your zoning dreams come true, but try not to spend too much. This is a rented space, after all, and these same pieces may not be a good fit for your next home. Look for affordable modern retailers like IKEA or get items secondhand from garage sales or Craigslist.
Push the envelope — with your landlord’s (written) permission
You may not have to limit yourself to wall hangings and other temporary changes. But before you start messing with permanent structures in your apartment, call your landlord to hash things out. Get explicit permission for any home improvement projects you want to take on, and have your landlord write down the decision so that you have a paper trail to fall back on if you need to prove you had the go-ahead.
Be sure to nail down who, exactly, will be paying for all of these improvements. Some municipalities require landlords to foot the bill for things such as annual paint jobs, but you should expect to be paying for more extensive projects yourself. Unless it’s vital to your safety and comfort, there’s a good chance that your landlord is under no obligation to help you out.