Make Your Rental Feel Like Home

Gabrielle Dupree had no idea how to make her rental feel homey, so REAL SIMPLE. REAL LIFE. design expert Gia Russo came to the rescue. Here, Gia’s tips for customizing your space without forfeiting your security deposit.

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Photo by Ann Summa

CREATE AN ACCENT WALL
Choose one wall in the main living space and paint it a shade you love that’s brighter or more dramatic than the paint on the other walls. The accent wall will break up the rest of the room and make all the artwork on it feel special. It’s also easy and inexpensive to repaint before you move.


ADD A FLOATING MANTLE
No fireplace? Enjoy the benefits of a cozy hearth with an easy-to-install floating mantle. Fill it with framed photos, pieces of art, and tchotchkes. One to try: Pottery Barn’s Modern Ledge.


DRESS YOUR WINDOWS
Basic but effective. Adding drapery panels around your windows frames the view and instantly finishes the look of any room.


USE LIVE PLANTS
Nothing beats real greenery for a lived-in feel. Take good care of your plants and they’ll live to see your next place, too.


INCREASE SQUARE FOOTAGE WITH AN OPTICAL ILLUSION
If your space is cramped, display a large mirror on one wall and it will make the room seem twice the size. Since mirrors are so versatile, you can always repurpose them. Consider a floor mirror like this Horchow model, which leans against the wall―no pesky hanging required.


REPLACE LIGHTING FIXTURES
The lighting in rental homes often leaves much to be desired―at least when it comes to style. Change the covers to suit your personal taste, then swap in the old fixtures when you’re ready to move.


USE AREA RUGS
Cover up knicked hardwood floors (or that ’70s-era shag carpeting) with a smattering of area rugs. Bonus: They’re portable and patterns tend to go with many different types of décor.