Our family is just finishing up our second year of renting a quaint 1400sf cottage that’s about a hundred years old, and while we have loved the location, it’s taught me quite a bit about decorating smaller spaces and how to make a rental house feel like home.
For those of you who are new here, welcome. I’m Christy and I blog along with my dear friend and former college roommate, Amy, here at 11 Magnolia Lane (read our blogging story here). We’re a military family and my husband is currently finishing up an overseas assignment while the kids and I are in the States. We’ve lived apart for almost two years but are counting the months until we’re reunited under the same roof this summer (our destination is still unknown but if you sign up for our email updates I promise you’ll be almost the first to know)!
Amy and I always love joining Marty at A Stroll Thru Life for her home tours. We take turns sharing our (current) homes and soaking up inspiration from all of the other participating bloggers. Are you visiting from Haneen’s Haven? If so, we’re glad you’re here. Haneen is one of our favorite blogging friends and she has such a fun, colorful sense of style, doesn’t she?
Because we’re a military family, I have A LOT of experience in decorating rental houses and military quarters. There are definitely a few things that I do over and over again to make our houses feel like homes. Today I’ll share a few examples in our living room and dining room while I feature our spring decor.
Ask your landlord if you can paint; it’s an easy and inexpensive way to customize your space
If we’re renting, I ask the landlord if we can paint and have them add permission to the lease (they always say yes). Many of them will reimburse for the cost of the paint, but I don’t let that stop me, because paint makes such a huge difference and it’s so inexpensive. Paint changes everything.
In our current home, the living room, dining room, and kitchen were three different colors when we moved in (see the “befores” here). They’re all the same color now and it creates a much more cohesive and open space. The color is Oatlands Subtle Taupe by Valspar; I hear they recently renamed it Villa Grey, though.
Bring your own lighting: chandeliers, lamps, and sconces
Builder-basic lighting is usually hideous. I have several chandeliers that travel with us from one home to the next. Some I found on Craigslist and eBay, and some are much more expensive, but I taught myself years ago how to wire them and hang them and it makes a huge difference.
| French cane bench | Dining room update |
If you’re not handy with electricity, don’t worry–there are still plug-in options for you, like the library sconces I installed in my kitchen and living room. You can barely see the cords!
Go neutral with your larger pieces and add color with accessories
When you move a lot, you never know what your color scheme is going to be. If you’re willing to paint you can influence that, but it’s a fact of renting that you furniture never fits exactly the same way from one house to the next. I tend to stick with neutral larger pieces and add color with throw pillows, flowers, and other decor accessories. Then I can change it out seasonally and continue to build the world’s largest throw pillow collection (#lifegoals).
| Matchbox |
Add inexpensive window treatments
Military and corporate spouses know that the “curtain box” is a part of life. Since the number and size of windows is different from one house to the next, we normally carry along a box of misfits. While my forever house will sport perfect pinch-pleat drapes, my right-now house has inexpensive panels that work on a variety of window sizes.
(White normally works best, but I went with gray this time)
Matchstick blinds can be cut to match each window and are very inexpensive:
Some windows don’t even need window treatments, unless privacy is a huge issue. I don’t really care who sees me doing dishes–let’s all suffer together– so the kitchen sink window stays open to let in the light.
I appreciate your stopping by our sweet little home; all of my sources are below. If I missed anything, just leave a comment or email me.
Now, I hope you’ll head on over to visit sweet Karianne at Thistlewood Farms and tour her beautiful farmhouse!
If you missed any of the homes this week, you won’t want to miss a single one. Here’s the complete lineup:
A Stroll Thru Life, Setting For Four, Cuckoo4Design, Pink Peppermint Design,Southern Hospitality, Nesting With Grace
Inspiration For Moms , Decor To Adore, House By Hoff , ZDesign At Home , Duke Manor Farm, Remodelando La Casa
Our Southern Home , The Chronicles Of Home, Monica Wants It, Follow The Yellow Brick Home
Hymns & Verses , Thrifty & Chic
11 Magnolia Lane , Thistlewood Farms , Clean & Scentsible, Seeking Lavender Lane, Sincerely Marie Designs, Haneens Haven
Our Fifth House, Decorating Delirium, White Arrow Homes, Life On Cedar Lane, Modern Glam, Far Above Rubies
What a beautiful spring tour! Love everything
AMANDA MARIE says
Everything is so perfectly spring! i JUST LOVE YOUR BREAKFAST NOOK, SO PRETTY!
Thank you, Amanda!
Laura Ingalls Gunn says
As a retired military wife I so appreciate what you have created. It’s a step up from the cinder block walls in base housing that I dealt with. LOL Such gorgeous touches for spring!
There are still plenty of cinder block walls around, to be sure! We had to downsize and live off-post to afford to live separately from my husband, but honestly it’s worked out well for us. Thanks for stopping by, Laura!
You always give your rental homes so much character, love it! and those are awesome tips.
Thanks, Cristina. It’s always a pleasure touring with you!
Wow! Beautiful home. Thank you to your husband and family for serving our country. I can not even think about being away two years from my family. god bless.
Thanks so much, Cathy. Two years was a little longer than we bargained for, but God willing we’ll be back together come July. To say that I’m counting the minutes is an understatement!
So glad you stopped by! Christy
Your home always inspires me. You do indeed have a knack for making everything look like “HoME” but most importantly, it feels like home. Beautiful tour. Thanks so much for joining the 2019 Spring Home Tour.
That’s a lovely compliment, Marty. Thank you. I tell my husband that he’s given me plenty of opportunity to practice my decorating skills with all the moves over the years. There’s always a bright side, right? Thanks again for hosting a wonderful tour.
laura janning says
christy- rental or not your pretty home is ready to usher in spring. I am sure you are counting down the days. I could’nt imagine being gone from my hubby that long.
Yes, girl, I am for sure counting down at this point! We only thought it would be a year going in, just to get our son graduated from high school, but then this deployment popped up on the calendar and there was no sense moving out to join him when he’d be leaving. We are sure looking forward to being together again!
It’s always a pleasure to tour with you, Laura!
Jennifer Lifford says
You’ve done such a great job turning your rental property into your own! Looks beautiful all decorated for spring!
Thanks so much, Jenn. I am looking forward to being a homeowner again, but this has really been a great in-between house for us.
Heather Luckhurst says
Love all of your tips and spring pops of blue Christy! Ah Yes – THe curtain box!! So true! I have a box of curtain rods of various sizes too lol!! Love your tour!! xo Heather
Yes–curtain rods for sure! There seems to be an unwritten rule that just like the furniture never fits quite the same from one house to another, all the windows are different numbers and dimensions. I will have custom pinch-pleat panels in my forever house, just mark my words!!
shirley @Housepitality Designs says
You have made this Rental a.k.a. MCC house, a beautiful home for your family…I have always admired your courage and tenacity Christy! I can now relate living in a rental…I am surrounded by huge ceiling fans in every room…..(except the dining room…seriously!) thought about replacing them with some nice lighting but we decided against it. I am contemplating recovering some chairs in a blue velvet…did you recover that chair?….Love the Spring Tour Christy!….Have a most wonderful week!
Yes, rental living is so different. It’s nice to just call them to fix the big stuff, but it’s hard asking permission to make little improvements. Ceiling fans in every room–wow! You have done a tremendous job with your home, though.
Yes, I had the chair recovered. If I could do it over again, I’d choose a color that’s a little more teal than cobalt, but it’s nice for a pop of color in the corner.
Happy spring, Shirley!
Lynne Beattie says
Thanks to you and your family for your service to our country! Love what you have done in hour home. Great ideas for renters. Beautiful job!
Lynne Beattie says
That’s a lovely compliment, Lynne. Thank you so much!
Amber Ferguson says
What a fabulous tour! There needs to be a “pin all” button! I love all of your vintage treasures and pops of blue!
So happy to join you for the spring home tours! Have a beautiful spring!
You’re so kind, Amber–such a pleasure to tour with you this spring!
What perfect tips for spring! Love how you have added some personality to your rental home – so beautiful!
Thanks so much, Ashley. Usually I get it just the way I like it before it’s time to move again!
Christy, I love all the character in your home and all the spring details!
Thanks so much, Deb. Happy spring!
Tammy Mitchell says
So pretty Christy! I love that you take your chandeliers with you from home to home. What a great way to dress them up! 🙂
Thanks, Tammy! Every once in awhile I’ll leave them behind when we sell a house, but that’s just an excuse to start over with new lighting. 😉
Monica Benavidez says
This is so beautiful! I’d never guess it was a rental- you’ve really turned it into a beautiful home.
Thank you so much, Monica! I usually get things just the way I want them and then it’s time to move again, so I get lots of practice. 🙂
KariAnne Wood says
I would never have thought this was a rental—it’s beautiful! Love every detail—especially those dining chairs.
Happy spring friend!
Thank you so much, KariAnne! We’re really looking forward to owning again soon, but this has been a great little house for us in the meantime.
Happy spring to you!
Christy @ Our Southern Home says
Everything is so very pretty! You always amaze me with what you are able to do in a rental. You always turn it into cozy charm fit for your family to love! Happy Spring!
Thanks so much, Christy! I won’t lie, I’m looking forward to the day when we own a house again and don’t have to always ask permission to make improvements, but this has been a great little house for us in the meantime. Happy spring to you, too!
You have done such a beautiful job, and that dresser in front of the window is amazing!! I think moving around and making military housing/rentals cozy is a gift and something not everyone can do. Right after we moved off Bolling AFB in DC, they tore down all the old housing and built beautiful new houses, but I never lived in a new one anywhere so I can relate to the challenge. You’re so talented and it just looks amazing!
Thank you, Anita. The older quarters are a huge decorating challenge, aren’t they? Cinderblock walls and linoleum floors are hard to make beautiful! DC is on our short list of next assignments; I was born there so it would be fun to go “home” again after all of these years.