Designer Tip: 4 Tips To Upgrading A Rental

Time Several Hours

Budget $ $$$

Skill Level

WORDS BY The Havenly Team

Fill 1Created with Sketch.

Published on January 18, 2016

The life of a renter is a free-wheeling one. Plumbing issue? Not your problem! Electrical issues? Not your problem! Damaged roof from the recent hail storm? Yeah, you get the point. As a renter, much of the day-to-day upkeep of your home is in the hands of your landlord. Unfortunately, much of the design details are also in the hands of your pickup-driving, overall-wearing and paint splattering landlord. Not to worry. If you’re struggling to upgrade your rental home, these designer tips from our fabulous Director Of Design – Shelby Girard – should do the trick.

Shelby is a Denver transplant and Chicago native. She worked in residential interior design before joining Havenly in 2013! Shelby has a BA from NYU and her masters in Interior Design from Harrington College of Design. She enjoys antique shopping, fancy cocktails with equally fancy names, hoarding pillows and lamps, and has redecorated her apartment one too many times! Here are Shelby’s tips and tricks for styling your rental:

1. Paint!

So many rental units come with a sad off-white/beige paint color that is used because it can hide dirt. Painting your rental a fresh coat of bright white will make the space feel larger, brighter, and cleaner! And bright white works with any style and is the perfect backdrop to art. It’s also color that your landlord will likely be okay with since it’s a neutral that won’t require you to re-paint before you move out.

[Image and design courtesy of Mary Costa and Caitlin Murray]

2. Replace plastic blinds with shades or curtains.

Stash away those cheap plastic blinds in the back of your closet until it’s time to move out. A custom roman shade or curtains that frame your windows will make your place feel much more like home.

3. Decorate your kitchen!

Rental kitchens are often out of date and in need of a major facelift. As a renter, you can’t do much in terms of remodeling work, but changing out cabinet hardware, adding art, and displaying beautiful serveware can go a long way to elevate a rental kitchen.

4. Don’t forget about the bathroom.

Like the kitchen, rental bathrooms need some love too. Opt for a more traditional rug, like a Kilim or Persian rug, in lieu of a bath mat, use decorative bowls and mugs to display q-tips, cotton balls, or for holding makeup, and don’t forget the art…I love a gallery wall in a bathroom!


Inspired? Start applying these tips to your new room designs!