How to Make a Rental Feel Like Home

19 February

“Your home should tell the story of who you are, and be a collection of what you love brought together under one roof.”

Over the past three years of Matt and I living together in our apartment, I’ve learned a lot about making a rental feel like home. I’ve moved things around, swapped things out, painted, rearranged decor– but what it all boils down to is cultivating things that make you happy. Pieces that speak to you, remind you of something, brighten your day. A home is like a little museum of things that tell a story of the people who live there. Here are a few things around our place that make us feel cozy and right at home…

Have your collections on display

I realized I have quite a lot of growing collections that give our apartment its charm and personality. The colors, textures, and story behind each make for perfect table-toppers and conversation starters throughout our space. Magazines (decade-old collection now), coffee table books, ceramics, matchbooks, glassware, coasters. Little collections and treasures that mean something to you will go a long way…

Fill in the space in unique ways

In San Francisco, you’ll find that most apartments come with something quirky in the form of a nook or a victorian built-in. I find that when I finally make the best use of these spaces, the room looks complete. Mastering the layout of a room and placing things in an effortless sense so everything just kind of flows is the goal. Think about the focal point of the room, window placements, and Tetris your furniture to try and utilize as much natural light and room as possible.

Lighting is the real Secret Sauce

Lighting is one of the best ways to bring warmth and coziness to a home. A dim-lit room with warm lighting and a few candles flickering at night… it doesn’t get much cozier than that! In my opinion, lighting may be the most important piece when talking rentals– and the warmer the better. Light fixtures are an incredibly impactful touch–our chandelier in the dining room completely makes the space sing. Also, plug-in sconces are such a good way to elevate and inject charm into a room.

Candles on candles

I love arriving home and getting a waft of recent candles I’ve been lighting. I am always striking my match around dinner time as we hang in the living room and watch our favorite shows. To me, candles are a little piece of home. I should have included them up top in my collections, I can’t get enough of them…

Invest in versatile, timeless pieces you love

Over the years, we have invested in a few things that really make our apartment feel cozy and special. I think people are afraid to invest in things that may not work in a future home, which makes sense. Totally understand that and agree you should choose investments wisely. I think a really nice lamp, coffee table, console– versatile things easily make a place feel more elevated. Buy things that you know you’ll love forever, that exude your style. Don’t just buy things to fill in the room. It is OK if you move in and it feels empty for a while. Much better to slowly collect and love everything, rather than making a World Market run and getting over things in a few months. Guilty as charged!

Hang Curtains

It amazes me how much of an impact curtains make! Hang them higher than the windowsill for dimension. I love a sleek black rod with these IKEA curtains. By far the most affordable set by the way! They rarely come in sets these days… and they look so much more expensive than they are. They add a bit of warmth and texture to the room, too. These say white, but they have a slight ivory hue to them, just FYI!

Add plants

Bringing the outdoors in just fills little pieces of our home so nicely. Our birds of paradise are so easy to care for, they have grown so much this past year and are one of my favorite features of the rooms they sit in. They bring a beautiful pop of green and life to the room. I also love picking up monstera leaves from the flower shop… I swear these things last for weeks.

Paint { if you can }

Painting is something I’ve always done with past apartments/rooms I’ve lived in. Sadly, we aren’t allowed to paint our walls (I painted our dining room and our property manager was not pleased!) so, be sure to ask if you are thinking about painting. If you can paint { lucky }, I highly suggest it. Add a fun accent wall, or wallpaper a small bathroom. These changes can completely transform a room and make it more you…


A few things we love around our apartment…

Thoughts, questions, or just want to say hi?