Blog August 15, 2022

How To Make Your Rental Space Feel Like Home

Not everyone is ready to buy a house in the suburbs, but we all want the place we’re living to feel like our home. Your apartment or rental home shouldn’t feel like an impersonal box you only return to for sleeping and eating. Even if you’ve only lived in a rental for a week, what makes that space feel like home are all the little personal changes you make.

Many people in the US live in apartments, condos, rental homes or other multi-family renting communities. No matter where you live, you deserve a space that feels like you. Below are a few of our best tips to make your space feel comfortable and homey, even in a temporary living situation. 


Buying For Your Home

Find New Furniture –– Whether building a coffee table kit from a big box store or checking thrift shops to “build” your living room set with a worn-in lounge chair, Bustle suggests looking for nice but affordable options to make a rental feel like home. Don’t settle for cardboard boxes, folding chairs, and milk crates! 

Focus On Your Bedroom – We spend a third of our lives sleeping, so your bed and room should be the most comfortable place on the planet. Consider finding really good sheets and pillows, thick curtains if a window faces the rising sun, and perhaps a nightstand with books, reading lamps and photos. Comfort is one of the feelings most strongly tied to home, so adding comfortable things like blankets and throw pillows will help.

Fresh Paint – If your lease allows this kind of surface alteration, try painting the walls with your favorite bright colors or a splashy mural. Consider while doing so how the colors might affect you, such as bluer colors helping you feel sleepy and redder colors making you hungry. When a lease doesn’t allow painting, try larger wall decorations or see if wallpaper would be allowed.

Homey Smells – With the right air fresheners, incense bowls, oil diffusers, or scented candles, your home can smell like anything you want. Fresh cookies? Wildflowers? Rain on pavement? Whatever you choose, that smell will change the entire tone of a rental space and remain forever in your memory as the scent of home.

Mats & Rugs – There are three big benefits of placing floor pieces down, starting with the obvious one of having something softer underfoot when walking down a hallway or standing at the sink. Also, consider that rugs can be art all on their own, which helps beautify and personalize your rental, and they can help define separate spaces in a larger, open-style apartment to give a sense of cozy order.

Mirrors – Along with letting you get a look at yourself before heading out the door in the morning, reflective surfaces make a room brighter by bouncing light into more corners and onto vertical surfaces like the sides of cabinets. 

New Lighting – The right lights can transform any dull space into a bright home or an underused corner into a cozy nook. Try to have three or more lights per room, which might come from floor and table lamps, desk lights for reading, or ceiling-hanging light strings. Each one should have a purpose in the room, such as the aforementioned reading lights or a shaded lamp when you’d prefer a soft glow rather than harsh overhead lighting. Decorative lights should help create the right mood for the room, while task lights help you do something where better light is a must. Also, be sure to replace old inefficient light bulbs with newer models.

Something To Care For – A popular decision after moving into an apartment is to adopt a pet – dog, cat, fish, hampster, etc. –  for your new home. Not all apartments allow pets, but another great option is a houseplant which gives most of the same benefits and improves the air quality in your rental space.

Wall Decorations – This is your home now, so you can pick what goes on the walls. Perhaps that will be a dry erase or cork board for day planning, art created by you or your friends, framed photos of your family, paintings and posters, shelves full of sentimental items, anything you love and would enjoy seeing every day. Just try to keep the decorations in a room from clashing. Even if your apartment doesn’t allow placing hooks into walls, there are a number of adhesive options.

Window Curtains – As another way to make a room feel like yours, curtains have many of the same benefits as decorations and rugs with every possible color and pattern. But the main purpose of a curtain is to alter the light coming through windows, such as blocking the bright morning sun entirely with a thick curtain or making midday sunlight softer with sheer window hangings. Curtains give you the sense of privacy that a home provides, especially when your window looks out at other buildings.


Activities & Projects

Deep Cleaning – When the rental is still empty (or mostly empty, with moving boxes piled to one side) consider cleaning the space from top to bottom and in all the crevices. By scrubbing every surface with disinfectant and rags, you’ll remove what may have been left behind and get to know your new home.

Put Things Away – Break down your moving boxes and recycle them as soon as they are empty. You’ll find certain items take longer to find a new home, but make an effort to create a space for them as quickly as possible. When there isn’t enough space for large items because your new rental is smaller than your old house, consider also renting a small storage unit nearby.

Sort Through Your Feelings – As Apartment Guide reminds us, renting is a big achievement in life and this space is now yours to do with as you wish. Is there something about the rooms that doesn’t feel right? Within the limits of your lease, try to change what isn’t working. Make a project of improving each room or area one by one, from simple methods like adding lights to more involved processes like painting the walls or hanging art. 


Home Is Where Life Happens

Remember to celebrate every day in your rental space by inviting guests over for a housewarming party or as a weekly get-together to eat dinner and watch a movie. A housewarming party also motivates you to unpack quickly after a move and getting your kitchen in working order to make food for everyone creates emotional bonds to the space. Finding the right day and time where friends and family can visit is one more way to make your rental feel like home.