Settling into a rental property can sometimes feel counterintuitive. We want all our space to feel like home and be our sanctuary, but too much customization can be costly to restore back to normal when the lease is up. But it’s easy to cozy up an ordinary apartment without getting frustrated over fung shui or becoming an intense interior decorator. A quick trip to Ikea or a similar economical homegoods store, even a thrift shop, can have you getting comfortable in no time.
First, take the time to grab some complimentary textiles. It sounds simple but so many folks don’t go beyond furniture and essentials. I love bold throw pillows to add depth to sitting areas, and sometimes disguise dingy secondhand furniture, as well as layered across a bed to make it look much more luxe. Rugs not only do the duty of grabbing dirt and debris in entryways, they can add color and softeness in unexpected areas. Even cheap rag rugs are a great way to play with new hues and add a little snuggle.
Towels can play an important part in both comfort and decor too. A huge collection of towels is not necessary yet, start with a small coordinated collection of soft, quality towels that is enough to get you from one laundry cycle to the next. In small bathrooms, it really makes a difference to when the shower curtain and towels seems plush and go together nicely. (Matching is not essential, coordination is.)
While we’re pondering the powder room, don’t underestimate the value of looking forward to each relaxing shower in your new place. A nice showerhead does not have to be expensive (mine is awesome and came from Groupon for $18), but a nice wide spray, variable settings, and good water pressure are really priceless. Some management companies do frown upon changing the showerhead if they pay the water bill, so modify it at your own risk and be aware of the consequences. Don’t forget to save the original in a shoebox in the linen cabinet or bath cupboard so it can be reinstalled when you move.
Don’t forget to lighten up! Play with the natural light that shines in by getting rid of bland vinyl blinds and opting for something more natural, like wood or bamboo, or going with a fabric window treatment for warmth and texture. Supplement the sunshine, which can be sparce in many apartment layouts, with interesting lamps scattered throughout your livingspace to chase away the shadows. A well-placed string of white twinkle-lights or playful lanterns can cozy up a cookie cutter outdoor patio or bring a unique glow to bedroom. Just steer clear of anything too kitchy to avoid that dreaded dorm room look. Unless your decor really demands it (and if so, apply sparingly!), leave multi-colored lights or kooky novelty lamps to the coeds.
What steps have you taken to make your home your own? When you’ve noticed that a friend’s home feels empty, what’s missing that keeps it from feeling cozy? — Casandra Armour