Thursday, November 10, 2011

27 You Asked: Rental Decor and Organizing

I know I have a lot of readers that rent or who are military families that are not able to make major modifications to their abodes.

And you have asked,

Hi Jen!

I want to start by saying I love your blog!  It has given me so much inspiration to organize my home!  I wanted your advice about making a "rental" feel like home. We are a military family and we are about to be moving... AGAIN but that's the way it goes, right?  Anyway, we have decided to move into base housing at my husband's new duty station.  We own our home that we are in for the next couple weeks so it's going to be a change to be living in base housing where we have limited abilities as far as decorating etc.  Also, a lot of my current organization came from things we built in so we will not be able to do that in our new place.  Base housing is very basic, white walls etc. so I will need to brighten up the place and organize very creatively!!   Please help!

Thanks so much!
Tammy


SUCH a common and fantastic question!


Although I don't live in a rental, I understand the basics of the dilemma.  White walls and no built in storage opportunities.

First, let's chat about the white walls and decor.  It may surprise some of you to know that white walls can actually be extremely stunning.  And a great excuse to bring in great pops of color throughout the space in other ways {get ready to start spray painting my friends!}

Here are some examples of amazing white wall spaces:

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For me personally, perusing the internet for white wall decorating kind of makes me want to snag a gallon of white paint and get painting!  Wow, such a great reminder of how great they can really be!

Here are my thoughts:
  • Paint a piece of furniture in a fun color!  Or spray paint a great mirror or set of frames in vibrant tones!  {Remember, Command Hooks now have great picture hanging options for a no hole option, these are also great for leaving next to zero mark in a wall when hanging.}
  • Rugs are a fantastic way to bring in great color and ground the room.  And these days, everyone is buying inexpensive plain options and whipping out the paint and a stencil to make them amazing!
  • Throw pillows and throws are another way to bring in boatloads of room softening color.  Scour Etsy for pillow covers in great prints or sew some up from some inexpensive fabric {or even clothing} remnants!
  • Hang floor to ceiling patterned curtain panels.  My heart always smiles for bold curtains.  Every. Single. Time.
  • Accessorize with color.  If you can't paint the walls, bring in color though decorative storage boxes, lamp shades and artwork.  Have fun mixing and matching colors and patterns, it seems to work well in many of the rooms shown above!
  • White on white works too!  White furniture with white walls looks so clean and fresh!  And any colors you bring into the room are sure to pop off of it all!

Second.  98% of the projects I do in my home, could be taken with us and used in a rental should we ever decide to move.  The other 2% may be built ins or wallpaper/paint projects, but I believe that if you to browse my project gallery, you may be amazed at how many of the projects and ideas can be adopted anywhere in some way or another.  Even our giant bookcase "built in" is just floating against the wall and could easily be moved.


Some organizing ideas:
  • Built-ins can be "faked" and not actually affect the structure of the room/building at all.  Adding decorative trim to the storage piece itself is a great way to give inexpensive bookcases a built-in feeling.
  • Drawer liner comes in a HUGE variety of patterns and is a great and pretty way to love organizing your household drawers.  However, it just peels away when you are done with it!
  • Make your furniture do double duty.  Find pieces that can act as storage and can evolve as you move from home to home.  Dressers are so great in almost any space {media stand in the living room, hat/mitten storage in an entry, sideboard in a dining room, changing table in a nursery, etc...}.  Storage ottomans can hold linens in a bedroom or toys in a living room.  Bookcases can be shoe storage by the front door or toy storage in a playroom.  Armoires can hold entertainment pieces, office essentials or clothing!  It's all about picking items that will last and work no matter where you end up!

I believe that if you combine some of the storage ideas with the white wall color ideas above, you can make any home a happy and comfortable home!

Of course, I don't consider myself the expert on the subject since I haven't rented in over 10 years when I was just out of high school.  Not exactly understanding the decorating and organizing ropes back then...

And because I know that I have a lot of readers that currently rent or move frequently, that are in the same predicament as Tammy, it would be great for you experts out there to chime in and add some more thoughts and ideas on the subject!  I am now handing the blog over to you!

27 comments:

  1. My husband does Property Management and so we live onsite at the community he runs.
    I have almost finished a similar custom "built in" media center inspired by yours, and I just posted a fun way to add some "rental friendly" color/pattern to our kitchen.
    http://www.this-hollywood-life.blogspot.com/

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  2. Those are some beautiful rooms! Love your floating bookcases and the arrangement!

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  3. I love the lemon prints and the pillows in that room !

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  4. An online blog friend is an army wife. She moved last year from Ft. Benning in GA to a base in Savannah. Both base housing. She did some painting and whatnot in the Ft. Benning house, but had to paint it back to its white when they left. I especially love photos #2-7. Great inspiration!

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  5. wow -- that's great inspiration, Jenn! ....and not just for renters! Thanks for taking time to help them out (and me too)!!!!!!!1

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  6. Such lovely white spaces! I live in an apartment....the thought of painting my walls a beautiful color is a dream...It's part laziness/part I don't want to have to repaint white, whenever we decide to move. :)

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  7. I just did a post on this yesterday...my girlfriend downsized into an apartment after they moved to California:

    http://organizingmadefun.blogspot.com/2011/11/apartment-living.html

    She found really clever ways to organize her place despite the lack of space.

    The pictures you found are great inspiration! Thank you!

    Becky B.
    www.organizingmadefun.com
    Organizing Made Fun

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  8. I have searched for what exact shelves you have for your "built in" for your television, but haven't found it. Also, have you done anything else to them, or are they as is?

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  9. Hi! One thing I have found helpful in a situation like this is to live in the new space, as is, without making any changes for at least two-three months. If a person can stand it, longer is even better. This allows time for a new daily rhythm to be established in the new home. Organizing and decorating a home space is much easier when the daily rhythm is up and going. Our family's rhythm reveals the organizational needs necessary in our homes.

    Also, a decorating scheme of various shades of white can be beautiful and restful. Green plants are an inexpensive, sometimes free, accent and wood pieces add inviting warmth.

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  10. This is so funny. I was *just* thinking yesterday that I should hit you up for some organizing advice for renters. We just moved into our first rental home.

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  11. Loving all the ideas for rentals! I'm also in the military & currently living in military housing. It's very challenging to make it your own sometimes. Unfortunately I learned about command hooks way to late!! I'm slowly transferring all my wall hangings to them.
    I feel the pain of having to paint everything back to off-white, which is why I don't paint anymore =)
    TFS are great topic!

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  12. Awesome Ideas!
    We are a military family who recently moved into a rental after owning a home for 6 years. Its been quite a challenge for us not being able to paint the walls and put up anything permanent.

    To add some color and style to our dining room, I painted out table a vibrant red and the chairs a cream color.
    I also made a large headboard for the master to "act like" some color on the walls.
    We're still working on it, but it's coming along nicely!

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  13. Oh I love love love all the white wall photos. I have quite a few rooms (ok just two, we have a small place) suffering from while wall syndrome.

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  14. We rent, and are basically keeping 3M in business with the amount of command hooks/velcro we have in our home. They are brilliant. I stick them all over the inside of wardrobe doors for hanging belts, bags, scarves, jewellery, you name it. Also, most wall decals peel off without leaving any marks and can really transform a space beautifully.

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  15. We have rented for about three years now, and will be for a long time I think! Shelves are so useful, but we cant put any up! So I made my own from bed slats and attached it to my daughter's bed.

    http://myhandcraftedhome.blogspot.com/2011/09/top-secret-project.html

    I'm also thinking of putting some on the side of my son's chest of drawers. You learn to really appreciate items of furniture and use the walls simply as a base to everything else you add and not really part of the decor.

    Though I do use command hooks like crazy! Found them for 10p a packet when a shop was closing down and went a little crazy! :)

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  16. I live in a rental as well because my husband is a resident in pediatrics & will be doing a fellowship who-knows-where after this. There are TONS of things I would change about our house if we owned it, but I try to focus on the things I can change & try not to feel bad about the things I can't. It's hard sometimes. Especially since I know that if we were to buy a house we'd pay less than our rent for something much nicer :( Thanks for the inspiration!

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  17. Hey Jenn~ I heart your blog! ;) I can so relate to today's post! We deal with not only white walls in our house, but also dark paneling. I HATE the paneling because it is SO DARK (especially in my girls' room). Any suggestions on what I can do?

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  18. To Hope Sewell,

    If I had dark paneling (especially in a place like my daughters' room) I would go to second hand stores and find some pretty quilts in colors that matched their decor. I would hang these on the walls.

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  19. Hey - We've been living in an apartment for the past 3 years while my husband finishes school so I've looked in to this a lot because we aren't allowed to paint and the walls are kind of a boring beige color, the linoleum and carpeting are industrial etc. But one thing I've hit on that is a really great way to add color is to do an accent wall with fabric stapled or thumb tacked to the wall. For the first wall we just thumb tacked it up but in the second bedroom we stapled it (with a staple gun) and it looks great. And when you move you can just take it down and reuse it in the next house or sew something with it or whatever. If you want some pictures so you can visualize it. I'm happy to oblige - I don't have a blog.

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  20. I'm suddenly not super mad that 1/2 my house is still white-walling it =) These are gorgeous inspiration rooms! + Great tips!

    Command hooks def come in handy in a rental... As a military wifey I should probably go ahead and own stock in those babies! haha! Hmmm... what else?

    ooh! GINORMOUS vases... like the kind you put on the floor and can fill with different fillers for each season to spice up decor - love those! And def having fun floor lamps with a pop of color makes the place feel more homey! Like you said - accessories in COLOR give the room a great POP and make things feel less temporary! <3

    xoXOxo
    Jenn @ Peas and Crayons

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  21. I wish my rental looked like these homes! ha ha. I have the white walls but also dated oak trim on baseboards and window trim. Not to mention, builder's grade carpet, brick fireplace with oak mantel and built in bookshelves next to the fireplace all in, you guessed it, oak. Now, if all that oak was painted white I would love it! I have never seen an inspiration photo in a magazine with dated oak everywhere I have to say. Still, I should stop complaining and work out how to make it pretty somehow.... any ideas would be helpful!

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  22. Man, I wish I had white walls in our rental. Nope instead we have beige wet sand looking walls and ack they are terrible. Everything, the trim, doors, and walls are all the same color.Oh well. Good inspiration here still despite that.:)

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  23. Thank, you so much for posting this story. We are a military family as well. We have been renting for three years in NY prior to that we owned a home in SC and it has been an adjustment trying decorate our home, but reading various blogs such as this one and watching the Nate Berkus Show has really helped me to get inspiration. It's good to know that others are in the same boat.

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  24. Now, if all that oak was painted white I would love it! I have never seen an inspiration photo in a magazine with dated oak everywhere I have to say.

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  25. I love your blog so much all the way here from the Philippines! I'm always amazed by the way you can tidy up and maximize spaces! This post is very helpful to me as I am currently looking for a new place to rent and how I can decorate it. It's going to be my first time to live away from my parents' house! Thanks for the tips! :)♥

    betweentimeandme.blogspot.com

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  26. I am a little late in finding this but I am a Marine wife living in house number 6 (6 houses in 7 years of being a marine wife) and for the most part have been able to make base housing my own. We currently live in a civilian rental (a few years ago our dog's breed was banned from base housing and while he was grandfathered into that base it became null and void when we moved to a new base) And it has truly been the hardest house. Most base housing is built with storage in mind but civilian houses are not. We tend to hold on to things because what works in one house may not work in the next but you don't want to get rid of it because it could still work in the house after than.

    This civilian house is through a property management company that does not allow tenants to use screws and anchors and only small nails. This means no curtains and no extra shelves and no large pictures/mirrors. It also has baseboard heating that really limits the placement of furniture. The only storage is the garage which is crammed full with a tiny little path way out. But its so narrow I couldn't park my van in it even if it was completely cleaned out.

    This nomadic lifestyle causes you to get very creative in terms of organization and storage. We have been at this duty station for one year so we have two more to go and I am counting down ;)

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  27. Great tips Jen! I especially loved all the ideas via the images you shared for those that cannot paint. With pattern and color, it's easy to see that paint isn't always needed. White on white with pops of color looks stunning. :) In fact, I think it forces people to be more creative. Thanks for sharing!

    Warmly,
    Karla

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