April 10, 2012

Personalizing Your Rental

I simply adore our Brooklyn apartment. Now that we rent in New York after owning two homes in the Southwest, there are moments when my husband & I daydream about what we would do if we had the liberty to make interior alterations to our current space.

It can be challenging and daunting when you're first scouting for that "perfect place." Truth be told, there is an unwritten rule, especially here in New York, that there will be trade-offs no matter where you choose to sign on the dotted line. Unless the sky's the limit, most renters come with a list of demands, the most important being the monthly rent and the neighborhood. You may absolutely have to have a dishwasher, but you'll deal with the fact you're in a 4th floor walk-up. Or maybe you must live near the subway ... but the wafting fragrance of Thai food day and night is worth the 45-second commute to the F-train.

What about that amazing brownstone you're nestled in with the amazing view of the park, but that pink, brown and white tile in the bathroom ... it's not like you can rip it out and start from scratch. So what do you do?

No matter where you land, it is essential to personalize your space after you get your keys. Here are a few tips to get you started:

{ image via Small Cool 2012 at Apartment Therapy }

Color Me Lovely: Paint is the quintessential ingredient to making a colorful change in your space. There is nothing overstated about taking the paint to your walls and livening up your home. With a myriad of options out there, you can radically change your space for a small cost. Don't be afraid to use strong colors - but keep in mind that you may have intersections in your home where multiple colors are seen at once ... so when in doubt, ask for a second opinion or try sample boards first before you commit.

{ image via Small Cool 2012 at Apartment Therapy }

Curtain Up: Window treatments are a simple way to enhance your environment and personalize your space. The most you may get when you move in are vertical blinds (yikes) ... so factor in some affordable ways to dress your windows upon move in. You can do anything from blinds to curtains to sheers. You will be amazed how much your room will change with these touches.

{ image via Small Cool 2012 at Apartment Therapy }

Picture This: Art is in the eye of the beholder. Use what you have. You don't have to hit up the local gallery if it doesn't fit within your taste or your budget. Your definition of art may be to frame a beautiful scarf, or maybe a piece of sheet music. Perhaps you have a favorite photo that you love so much you wish to have displayed with prominence. Consider using a resource like ChicCanvas.com and turn your digital photo into a piece of art. Framing your child's artwork is not only a joy to look at, but also a great way to create a lasting keepsake. Whatever your pleasure, make it your own. Websites like 20x200 and Art.com have not only an array of incredible choices, but you also have the option to have your new piece matted and framed at once.

{ image via Small Cool 2012 at Apartment Therapy }

Match.com is for Dating ... Not Decorating: Blend. Think outside the box. Not everything has to be "matchy-matchy" - you can blend styles, colors, textures, patterns and eras. It's okay! Granted, I would not just put something together for the sake of putting it together - but within reason, using a mixture of pieces will give great identity to a room. Gone are the days when you buy the infamous "bed-in-the-bag" along with the matching valance, throw pillows and wall border.

{ image via Small Cool 2012 at Apartment Therapy }

Totally Floored: Rugs can be life changing! They add warmth, texture, color, dimension and comfort to name a few. No matter the size, design or color, you are sure to have an added focal point with the right rug. The size of your rug can be deceiving, so make sure you take good measurements and consider things like traffic patterns, furniture placement and ease of care.

{ image via Small Cool 2012 at Apartment Therapy }

Go Green: Plants are such a fabulous accessory! Take a walk to your local hardware store or florist and ask questions. If you have a green thumb, great. But if not, let your garden expert know about your sun exposure in your apartment. Also, if you run humidifiers or prefer a dry space, make sure to take those facts into consideration. There are plants out there that are incredibly user-friendly, not to mention incredibly vibrant and good for your air quality. They literally breathe life into your space.

Make it your own, and don't apologize for it. The most important factor about your home is you - your personality, your taste, your expression. Keep it authentic and you're sure to succeed in transforming your space into something uniquely yours ... even if you can't rip out that tile!

xo JN

Photos are all via the Small Cool 2012 Contest at Apartment Therapy - make sure to check out this year's contestants and vote for your favorites!

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