How to Customize a Rental Apartment

how to customize a rental apartment

Upgrade Your Rental

It can be a bit tricky when renting to create a space that is truly your own; while still ensuring the security deposit will be there when you go to leave. It’s really important for me to feel that where I live is a space for me to truly be “at home.” To me a home is a space that I’ve made my own. I’m so happy with the simple changes I’ve been gradually making to my boring basic apartment. I really feel small, personal touches make a difference in a space.

Here’s a few easy, budget-friendly, non-permanent things renters can do to make the temporary apartment feel like home sweet home (and not upset the landlord along the way).

1. Create a Welcoming Entrance

First impressions count. Visitors may come and go but you will always return home, so why not make your entry something for yourself!? The first thing I see when I enter my home are things I love. Including two unique treasures I was thrilled to find, a marble tiered shelf and a glass cloche with a golden cupcake emboss detail.  The shelf is something I love, just like everyone lately loves anything with with white marble. I found it for $18 at a local North Hills consignment shop. The cloche is something to display pretty things – with a gold cupcake on it – whats not to love!? I had to have it when I found it at Chartreuse and Co. for $12. I also have on display an upcylced painted wine bottle I made with one of my favorite flowers, colorful hydrangeas.

marble side table

2. Add a Pop of Color with Painted Wall Stencil

In most apartment buildings renters have the option to paint the walls. In my apartment there’s limited overhead lighting. Without much light, I didn’t see a full accent wall of the deep emerald paint color I’m obsessed with adding to the space. Painting a wall this deep saturated jewel tone would unfortunately darken the space even more. To create the pop of color I craved in the bland space I had a thought use a large wall stencil. I used a unique damask stencil (by Plaid Crafts) to add color, create visual interest and frame the sitting space in the living room. Before it looked like the couch was floating and randomly placed. Now there is more purposeful definition in the space.

My ottoman is from Homegoods and my couch is from Levin furniture.

3. Bring in Personal Touches with a Photo Gallery

If you couldn’t already tell, I totally have a Homegoods problem. The place gets me every time I visit, and I visit a lot. Its a shopping weakness I’ve had for over a decade. Yes, really over a decade. I started working at sister store TJ Maxx at age 15. One visit to my local Homegoods right after I moved I found these beautiful grey wood side tables from Basset Furniture. Just having moved into an empty apartment I had to have the matching tables to fill the voids of space! Now that I’m settled in I don’t really know where to put the tables, but still totally need them.

For now, I’ve decided to put them in an empty spot in the long narrow rectangular living room. To anchor the tables I started a simple picture frame gallery that I can fill out over time. Displaying  personal picture that capture moments and memories really helps to make a space feel homey.

4. Add Interest in Blank Spaces with Hanging Mirrors

It’s a common practice to add mirrors in a dark spaces to increase light. Mirrors are also regularly used in small spaces to trick the eye into thinking the space is larger. I like mirrors just cause they’re pretty. That’s it. I’ve amped up the boring spaces in my apartment by hanging unique mirrors on the walls.

This gold heart-shaped mirror is over-the-top and that’s exactly why I love it 🙂 I found it on a treasure hunt at the Old Lucketts Store. I hung this right by my front door.

 

This set of mirrors hanging in my hallway are a Homegoods find. These sets are usually stacked on the outward face section of the checkout aisle.

5. Build in Functional Storage

My motto is functional can still be beautiful. Even wine storage can make a statement. I really wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have a beautiful spot to display and store my wine in.

In the bathroom I’ve hung a unique patina hanging shelf that I found on an home decor shopping trip to the Old Lucketts Store. I also found extremely functional clear bathroom storage at Homegoods. These storage pieces can go for $20-50 at department stores or the Container Store, but Homegoods usually has them in the clearance section for $8-$15!

 

 

6. Display Things that Bring You Joy

I have been dreaming about building an open shelving area to display my treasures for months. When making this space my temporary home I made it a point to create my dream shelves with charming, curly brackets. May seem silly to some, but having these shelves and knowing I made them myself – makes me so happy! Now I have a place to display my home decor  (basically my prized possessions)! Some pieces I made myself, others were found through flea markets & vintage shopping trips.

I also recently flipped a hanging shelf piece I found for $10 at a flea market. I’m so proud of making it my own, plus it’s functional! I’ll take any display area for pretty things that I can get.

Moral of the story, display the things that make you happy! Make what brings you joy a focus of your space.

I’ve also taken this thought through in the kitchen. I’m lucky enough to have plenty of counter space in the kitchen. I’ve used this space to display some more of my treasures. I’ve obviously got a thing for white marble & copper. I found all the marble pieces, copper utensils and Rae Dunn mugs at Homegoods or Marshalls. I found the white canisters with copper tops at Chartreuse and Co.

I decided to fill the blank space above the sink with a charming serving tray I found for $18 at Homegoods.

 

7. Find Furniture that Represents You

My style is very much french country, meets farmhouse, meets moroccan glam. I love anything ornate. I won’t go for anything simple, with straight lines or that’s lacking interesting details. I recently fell for a french country buffet sideboard piece from the Old Lucketts Store. My mother and I actually kind of fought over it 🙂 I really love the charm of the piece. I am for the moment using it as my TV stand, but one day hope to use it as true bar cart.

I’m attempting to hide all of the horrible chords and hardware that the awful Verizon cable company requires for basic service. I really don’t like cable companies, but really love this giant copper wine cooler I found at Wow Outlets in my hometown of Greensburg PA. Seriously home decor enthusiasts, go shop there, you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

 

8. Upcycle & Paint Furniture To Make it Your Own

DIY Furniture flip

I recently found a French Provincial set of dresser drawers through Craigslist.  I paid $130 cash for this secondhand piece and immediately wanted to flip it with a chalk paint! I made my own chalk paint through this DIY chalk paint recipe and transformed the piece into something unique.

I love the end product. It’s truly me. Some might not like the purple or the flourish details, but I do! This is what I love about DIY projects, making the piece your own. We can all take inspiration from what we see in Pinterest or Instagram. But I hope when it comes to the things we bring into our home, we don’t just emulate the look – we take inspiration and create our own version. I personally love the feeling of transforming something to reflect myself. I look forward to finding another piece to make my own soon!

 

9. Add Curtains and Rugs with Personality

Layering in area rugs and curtains can really bring a space to life and make it feel more complete, cozy and homey. These are items I don’t yet have, but that I’m looking forward to adding to my space in the future 🙂

The rug I’m dreaming of owning is this Jacquard Damask Rug, Turquoise from Ethan Allen

ethan allen damask turquoise rug

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Flea Market Furniture Flip

flea market furniture flip ideas

While treasure hunting at the end of the season Hannas town flea market in October, I found a charming mirrored shelf piece. I think I paid $10 for it. I of course wanted to transform it to make it my own. I love the look of mercury glass and have read a lot about how to achieve the look through DIY hacks.  So of course I was excited to have a flea market furniture flip on my hands and planned to transform the mirror, plus add some color to the wood with paint!

mirrored shelf

If you research it online, you’ll find there are many DIY hacks for taking a mirror or a piece of glass and making it look aged like mercury glass. I read a ton of DIYers advice on the process. I summed it up in my mind to layering a mixture of vinegar + water and looking glass spray paint and a darker spray paint, blotting in between layers to disperse the paint.

 

Well I think I took a bit too far. It dried too quickly before I could blot off the paint. I plan on buying another piece of mirror to have another try at attempting the DIY mercury glass look. For now the glass turned out okay for a first attempt.

 

For the paint color I decided to paint the shelf the new 2018 paint color of the year by PPG Voice of Color, Black Flame. It’s a indigo-black, charcoal hue.  I see it as a modern, moody version of my long-time favorite color purple.

I can’t wait to find a spot to hang this piece and decorate the shelves. Another piece I made my own 🙂

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Farmhouse Home Decor & Vintage Shopping Tour of Maryland & Virginia

Farmhouse & Vintage Home Décor Shopping Tour

I’ve gushed about the treasure hunt of home decor antiques available in Maryland and Northern Virginia a few times before, (Fall home decor post here + Holiday home decor post here) and I’m here to share another trip the antique lover’s capital! I was first introduced to these spots by my mother, an avid Southern Living Magazine and home decor enthusiast. Hmmm… I wonder where I get it from?! Here’s a recap of our April 22 adventure, the stops we took and treasures we spotted from modern farmhouse decor finds, to vintage antiques.

We always start the day in Buckeystown, Maryland at Chartreuse & co. This home decor enthusiasts’ dream spot consists of a few charming farm buildings filled with various antiques and upcycled home decor vendors.

On this Saturday they were also having a “Spring Market Day” with additional tag sales and local vendors set up outside. It was amazing, again definitely worth the 6am wake up call and 3 hour road trip from Pittsburgh. There was plenty of affordable finds from romantic french country inspired pieces to rustic and farmhouse styles. At Chartreuse the vendors offer a mix of newly manufactured pieces, handmade pieces, untouched antiques and upcycled pieces.

Just up the street from our first stop is Buckeystown Design Co Op.  This shop features a bit more upscale, more refined home decor pieces & furniture. Instead of upcycled pieces, here you’ll find nice, quality things purchased from suppliers and fun finds from places like High Point furniture warehouse sales. The space was fit for spring with beautiful fake spring flowers.

Next up on our home decor shopping adventure we visited Sweet Clover Barn. Sweet Clover is vintage home decor and handmade marketplace housed in a dairy barn on a horse farm in Frederick, Maryland. Again there are various farm building used to display multiple vintage home decor vendors, create another ultimate home decor lovers’ paradise. This place was upcycled kitchen hutch central. I was swooning over each unique farmhouse kitchen hutch.

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Furniture Flip with DIY Chalk Paint Recipe

french provincial dresser painted

The Before…

I searched for the perfect French Provincial set of dresser drawers for months. I looked through Craigslists, LetGo, Facebook groups, and second hand stores. There are lovely pieces at the various vintage stores I love in Frederick Maryland, but honestly most are out of my price point. Plus I wanted a piece I could flip and make my own, my mother wanted to help with a project. I finally found a piece I liked through Craigslist about an hours drive from where I live. It’s not exactly what I was looking for, but my mother and I both really just wanted to get started on a project together.  I paid $130 cash for this secondhand piece.

The Paint Color…

I researched pre-mixed chalk paints a lot before deciding I wanted to mix my own. I chose this route so I could pick my own color and not be limited to the premixed Annie Sloan or Amy Howard colors.

For my furniture piece I selected a shade soft purple gray called Cotton Flannel by Olympic Paints and Stains. I have always been a purple girl. I had two different purples paint colors in my room as a young girl and in my post-college apartment 🙂 I just couldn’t pick one!

The DIY Chalk Paint Recipe…

Mixing in water and Plaster of Paris obviously dilutes the quality and changes the consistency of the paint, so its best to use a decent quality paint.

Materials:

  • Plaster of Paris
  • quality interior latex paint in a flat sheen
  • plastic mixing bowl
  • cold water
This DIY chalk-finish paint can’t be mixed and stored to reuse later. To mix enough chalk-finish paint for one coat for an average sized 6 drawer dresser, use a ratio of 1/3 cup of Plaster of Paris to 1/3 cup of cool water. Stir that combination until completely smooth. Then combine with 1 cup of latex paint and stir thoroughly. This makes only enough chalk-finish paint for one coat. Its best to dry completely and sand in before mixing another batch between coats.

 

The Furniture Flip After…

I wanted to take this piece to the next level with metallic detail. We used Rust-Oleum American Accents Champagne Gloss Metallic Latex Interior Paint to add stencil detail and border accent. We kept the hardware as is.  The drawer border stencil is Martha Stewart Crafts Laser-Cut Stencils, Flourish.

painted provincial dresser

I love the end product. It’s truly me. Some might not like the purple or the flourish details, but I do! This is what I love about DIY projects, making the piece your own. We can all take inspiration from what we see in Pinterest or Instagram. But I hope when it comes to the things we bring into our home, we don’t just emulate the look – we take inspiration and create our own version. I personally love the feeling of transforming something to reflect myself. I look forward to finding another piece to make my own soon!

 

Save Chalk Paint Recipe for Later with this Pin!

DIY Chalk Paint Recipe

 

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Projects & Progress

I’m in the middle of three (yes 3) DIY projects right now. Three that I’ve started at various times but haven’t been able to complete. I am still really excited to complete these three projects, it’s just finding the moment and energy to do so. I’m so excited about these projects, I need to share.

Kitchen Open Shelving

Through browsing on Instagram I’ve come to swoon over pictures of open display shelving. With the only open wall space in our teeny tiny kitchen, we’re going to build the most beautiful open shelving.

SIlent Storm paint color

I AM SOOO EXCITED. Seriously. I ordered the most charming and unique shelf brackets, as girly and swirly as my BF would let me go.

iron-shelf-bracket-black-powder-coat-side_1_2

I picked out beautiful pine wood board at The Home Depot. I chose to stain it a warm brown color we had leftover from earlier in our flip project. It’s a custom mixed color in a Zar interior stain, mixed to match the hue of our laminate flooring.

zar stain  zar stain

I can’t wait to hang the shelves and brackets! I just need an extra pair of hands to help me level the boards. My BF has been hard at work on his flip projects, but hopefully we’ll find a moment this weekend to get the shelves hung!

French Provincial Dresser

I searched for the perfect French Provincial set of dresser drawers for months. Through Craigslists, LetGo, Facebook groups, and second hand stores. There are lovely pieces at the various vintage stores I love in Frederick Maryland, but honestly most are out of my price point. Plus I wanted a piece I could flip and make my own.  I finally found a piece I liked through Craigslist about an hours drive from where I live. It’s not exactly what I was looking for, but I really just wanted to get started on this project.  I paid $130 cash.

French provincial dresser

I researched chalk paints a lot before deciding I wanted to mix my own. I chose this route so I could pick my own color and not be limited to the premixed Annie Sloan or Amy Howard colors. More to come on the color and recipe I used.

 

Small Mirrored Shelf

I found a charming mirrored shelf piece at the last Hannas town flea market in October. I think I paid $10 for it. I’ve started to antique the glass and will paint the wood, maybe charcoal grey? I think I might hang it in the bathroom, but am unsure it will fit the space.

mirrored shelf supplies to antique a mirror

Stay tuned for project updates…

If you can’t already tell, I really love to get hands on and make things my own. Plus I love decor pieces with soft curves and swirl aspects 🙂 I’m really hoping to wrap these projects up this weekend! Stay tuned for the details final reveals.

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