When you’re living in a rental like us, you kind of just have to come to terms with the fact that there are loads you won’t be able to change — especially if you live in an old house. Our lovely home is a single dwelling house that was converted into two apartments over twenty years ago. You can tell, just by looking around, that someone decided that they wanted to separate it and then just put up a couple of walls here and there to make it work. And it does! For the most part…
Obviously, we’re not able to knock out weird bulkheads or deal with the ridiculous amount of textured plaster. But there are a few changes we were able to make to help this place feel a little bit more like us.
Along the way, I’ve also learned to embrace, and for some things, absolutely love the quirky details we’ve been graced with in our little home. Here’s how you can find a balance with your own rental flat.
Replace: Outdated Paint Colours
It’s quite surprising how many landlords are okay with you painting the space as long as the colour will benefit future renters. For us, our landlord went as far as to pay for the supplies as long as we provided the labour. It took over a week to paint every single wall but I think it was well worth the effort. For my landlord, it was an investment into tenants that cared deeply about the state of the property and future tenants who prioritize a clean, (somewhat) updated apartment. We even painted the kitchen cabinet doors white!
Embrace: Turquoise Counters
Obviously, changing the countertops was never going to be an option. I know a lot of people have used contact paper to cover their countertops but I don’t trust the wear and tear. At first, the turquoise countertops really put me off. I couldn’t imagine why anyone would do such a thing! But now, the colour has really grown on me! I realized soon after we moved in that a lot of our kitchen utensils match perfectly and now there’s something about the hue that brings a smile to my face.
Replace: Rickety Kitchen Pulls & Knobs
This is a change that most people are already on board with. The kitchen pulls were made of wood that barely matched the cabinets and they were so old and rickety that it felt like the pull would come off when you opened a cabinet. When I painted the cabinet doors white, I quickly switched them out for these beautiful black square pulls that I found on Amazon for about $35 for a 10 pack. What a difference!
Embrace: Oddly placed fixtures
I mentioned this in my blog post on the gallery wall, but I thought it was worth mentioning again. There are two wall sconces set at different heights on the walls in my office and for the longest time I could not figure out how to make them work in the room. I decided to just go for it with the gallery wall and arrange my frames across the entire wall (did I mention the sconces aren’t centred?) the entire wall is full and it minimizes the impact of the lighting. It worked like a charm! I even added a few brass frames to match the brass fixtures. Now I kinda like them!
Replace: Window Coverings
There were dusty yellow plastic blinds on every single window of this apartment… And we have a lot of windows! I took one look and said ‘yeah, no’ and spend a good hour taking them down one day. It was a surprisingly cathartic process. We replaced the ugly blinds with simple, breezy white curtains from IKEA and it made such a difference to the look and feel of the space. Having floor-length curtains adds length and elegance to the space. And the blinds? They’re hanging out in the basement so we can put them up before we leave.
Embrace: Awkward windows
This place has a few weird windows… In my office, there’s a big window that stops a foot from the ceiling and a foot from the ground and a tiny window above eye height right next to it (hopefully the photo provides a better description). To minimize the awkwardness, we hung curtains across the entire front wall in my office to create the illusion that the entire wall was a window instead of two oddly shaped windows. I love the look of full-length breezy white curtains so this was the perfect solution!
All of the small changes we made really helped the home’s original, albeit quirky, decor stand out and sing. I mean, who knew that I would grow to love turquoise counters? If you live in a rental or even a house that you own, and you have weird quirks that you can’t see to get around, please send me a message and I’d be happy to offer up suggestions!