You’ve collected 76 paint swatches, have Domino Magazine stacked all over your living room floor and know the HGTV schedule by heart … but you live in a rental! Dun dun dun.
I get it — it’s hard to let your inner designer out when you have an uptight landlord to answer to. So, here’s a round-up of some of the best creative design ideas you can use to upgrade your rental, while also ensuring you get your security deposit back when it’s time to move out. (You’re welcome.)
1. Temporary wallpaper … that’s not really wallpaper at all. I’m the self-appointed president of the Wallpaper Lovers Club, so when I discovered how easy it was to turn fabric into wallpaper and hang it with starch, it was love at first sight. This “wallpaper” is easy to put up and easy to take down, so your walls stay safe and sound underneath.
2. Faux marble countertops are totally a thing. And believe it or not, you can achieve this look with contact paper! Real marble is gorgeous and wildly expensive, but if you hate the countertops in your rental, you can switch them up easily and inexpensively. You can even choose granite or other stone looks. And who says you have to stop with the countertops? Take this look all the way up the wall and make a faux backsplash if you’re feeling marble-licious.
3. Upgrade your closet doors. I’m not sure why, but closet doors in rentals seem to be universally ugly. It’s like all landlords banded together and decided to strictly enforce a “no pretty closet door” rule. But you can take matters into your own hands by trying a sliding barn door or some faux painted molding.
4. Bling up your fixtures and hardware. There are many things in a rental that you just can’t change, but there are lots of things that are fairly easy to switch up. Here’s a short list: faucets, cabinet pulls, doorknobs, light fixtures and even switch plates. You can simply keep the pieces in a container, and when it’s time to leave — voila! You can take them all with you to your new digs.
How are you customizing your rental? Share your tips and DIY ideas in the comments below.
Entrepreneurs Jennifer Blumin and James Ramsey have a classic New York story to tell: they met in 2001 at a party at Studio 54. Jennifer is the CEO and founder of Skylight, a collection of luxury event spaces, and James is the principal of design firm RAAD and creator of The Lowline. Years later, the entrepreneur pair have used their skill sets — James’ architectural and creative eye and Jennifer’s ability to spot diamonds in the rough — to together create an impressive and one-of-a-kind home.
Jennifer and James, along with their two children, Phineas and Theodore, recently moved into a landmarked building on White Street in TriBeCa and soon began a full renovation of the space. Using a warm, netural palette and a modern-eclectic design scheme, the two created a space that feels both comfortable and luxurious.
Two Living Rooms in One:
Photo courtesy of James Ramsey
The first living room is situated just off the dining room and kitchen. This luxe living space is designed with an eye toward evening use with a functional, industrial feel.
Photo courtesy of James Ramsey
The main living space features a high-tech stereo credenza created by RAAD and industrial bookshelves showcasing objects collected from the couples’ world travels.
Photo courtesy of James Ramsey
The second living room is a low-slung lounge area connected to the first living space. It has the juxtaposition of Old World Hollywood (think: palm trees, teak daybeds). Both the pendant light from Workstead and the historic sign that Jennifer salvaged from a pre-reno Brooklyn bank offer an ode to the loft’s industrial heritage.
Tour the Dining Room, Kitchen + More
After an extensive selection process involving 100+ submissions from talented designers across the US and weeks of online voting where HGTV fans cast hundreds of thousands of votes, we have a winner. Drumroll, please. Everyone join us in congratulating Caitlin McCarthy, the winner of our Fresh Faces of Design competition!
Caitlin’s genius small-space solutions and approachable high-meets-low design style wowed HGTV fans who voted her design tops in the small space category, then won over the judges who crowned her the winner overall. Here are a few photos of Caitlin’s award-winning downtown Los Angeles loft plus the judges’ POV on why she swept the competition:
Becky LaFranchi, Communications and Interior Design Manager for Ikea USA, had this to say: “When designing a small space, every detail is important, each decision impacts another, and the ability to edit is key.” Caitlin pulls together a beautifully balanced, collected-over-time look that tells a story but is well edited and doesn’t feel cluttered:
Jillian St. Charles, Vice President of HGTV.com adds, You don’t see many luxe-looking galley kitchens. This very functional space combines materials and judicious use of color in a way that’s really engaging.”
Brian Patrick Flynn, Interior Designer and Founder of FlynnsideOut Productions was impressed with Caitlin’s mastery of scale and the way she incorporated the loft’s century-old architectural elements, like the exposed brick and original hexagonal tile floor:
All the judges could agree that Caitlin’s design is approachable and deftly combines bargain finds with glamorous touches, like these Thomas O’Brien Hicks pendants that illuminate the hallway-turned-dining room:
Off the dining room is the loft’s main bedroom. Doorless white walls give the loft a cohesive feel that helps the small spaces flow one into the next:
The jewelbox of a bedroom conceals a real gem: a boutique-worthy glass-doored closet:
But that isn’t the loft’s only surprise — what looks like a built-in in the living room is actually…
a Murphy bed that cleverly tucks away when not in use. Genius!
Judge Becky LaFranchi summed up this petite pied a terre best, “Caitlin’s design proves that small-space living can be both stylish and comfortable. It also feels very individualized, and not at all cookie-cutter, like you might expect a tiny space to be.” Brava, Caitlin, congrats on your win!
But Caitlin isn’t our only winner, HGTV fans chose the designers listed below as a stand-out in their category. Need a little design inspiration? Be sure to check ‘em out!
Best Outdoor Space: Mike Albert, Design Workshop, Inc.
Most Serene Retreat: Angela Rasmussen, House 2 Home Design & Build
Best Use of Color: Bria Hammel, Bria Hammel Interiors
Most Family-Friendly Space: Jordan Iverson, Iverson Signature Homes
Best Space for a Party: Katie Marvin, S&K Interiors
Best Kitchen: Katy Lyons, Jamestown Designer Kitchens
Most Dramatic Transformation: Lauren Levant Bland, Lauren Levant Interior
Most Unusual Space: Angela Rasmussen, House 2 Home Design & Build
Best Use of Pattern/Texture: Sadie Sanchez Johnson, Amanda Austin Interiors
Best Small Space: Caitlin McCarthy, Caitlin & Caitlin
Living in New York has made me obsessed with space-savers. If every piece of furniture I owned was like a mini-Transformer and turned into something else useful, or disappeared into the floor at the push of a button, I would be a happy girl. This is probably why I am so jazzed over the concept of Murphy beds and Murphy tables/desks. (FYI, Resource Furniture is a great place to start if you’re in the market for this kind of thing.)
On one hand, they’ve still got a cool wow-factor, like you’re living in the apartment of a super-swinging bachelor, and on the other hand, they’re just extremely practical. Apparently they’re having a moment right now, because I saw a great Murphy dining table in this month’s issue of Dwell, and then I spotted this clever fold-away craft table from Bubblewrapp’d.
Not only is this cute little table not taking up any extra space, but when it’s folded into the wall, it’s got an inspirational saying on it with vinyl lettering! So, literally, it’s a piece of art that you can use to help you create more art. Genius!
Interior designer Doug Meyer papered the walls in his NYC rental apartment — literally. As in, he and his brother/design partner Gene installed 2,398 sheets of 8½-by-11-inch paper everywhere for a dreamy, if dizzying, effect.
Photo: Floto + Warner
I especially admire this print-motif in the bedroom, which Gene explains was their twist on wallpaper dating from the 1400s. That early wallpaper was comprised of small squares of paper that had been printed with wood blocks, but even if Warhols existed back then, I kind of doubt anyone would have thought to add one to such a rainbow riot. It’s like Marilyn is starring in a new movie here: Some Like It Colorful. You have to see the rest of the wild “wallpaper” in Meyer’s apartment on New York Magazine‘s site. I swear, you’ll never look at your kids’ construction paper the same way again!
Decking out your first apartment or dorm room—albeit in college or after graduation—is one part thrilling and all parts stressballish. While making something totally your own is one of the biggest joys in life, trying to fill a space stylishly and functionally on a ramen-noodles-and-tap-water budget can quickly take all the fun out of it. Hell, I’m living proof; my first apartment sure was purdy but since I spent every penny on making it look cool, all I could afford to do is eat in it and stare at the walls. Saltines topped with free packets of mustard scored from Burger King to be exact.
|The same goes for a teency-weency dorm room; filling a space functionally and decoratively costs a pretty penny and tons of not-so-pretty sweat equity. If it’s your first time at the rodeo of MyFirstPlaces, you’ll quickly notice how quick a run for Windex, a lampshade and new pillowcases results in a receipt with a $230 total. With students shelling out $165 for a single textbook and recent graduates dropping $400 for a decent interview outfit, the money pit gets deeper and deeper; saving is a must. Sure, we all know about the magical wonders of flea markets in reference to keeping things original and on budget; however, there are some less-known tricks out there which may make putting that first place together a bit easier. For example: How do you dress up concrete walls? How do you use 100 square feet of living space as a bedroom, living room and media area? What alternatives are there for people who love wallpaper and paint but can’t change their walls? Lucky for you, I’m out of college eight years now and have some my-first-apartment-life-experience to share with you. Unfortunately, the ramen noodle eating still goes on for a few years—but hey—there’s no reason your place shouldn’t look great while you scarf those noodles down!
Vinyl decals, have they been done to death? Yes, oh heavens yes. (So have posters tacked to walls with balls of putty. Save yourself with my post on buying art online.) Vinyl decals are an absolutely brilliant solution to dressing up a temporary space, especially those where painting is prohibited and color choices are dictated by an establishment. The key is staying away from the ones everybody’s seen two-hundred times: chandeliers, the Keep Calm And Carry On thing, and last but not least, overscale damask. SNORE. Decals like this robot from blik are fun and graphic; certain styles made for kid’s rooms are still cool enough for young adults. No DIY skills? No problem. All you need to put these babies up is a burnisher and a steady hand.
I read this article on Sunday in the Telegraph, and I can’t stop thinking about it.
For 70 years, a Parisian flat was uninhabited, the rent faithfully paid. The owner, who moved to the South of France before World War II and never returned, died recently at age 91. When her estate managers opened the apartment, one said, “Entering the untouched, cobweb-filled flat in Paris’ 9th arrondissement was like stumbling into the castle of Sleeping Beauty, where time had stood still since 1900.”
The find that’s being touted in the news is the romantic Boldini painting of the owner’s actress grandmother, which sold at auction for 2.1 million pounds.
But I have to wonder…am I the only one who’d rather have the flat? I mean, look at it:
The whole story: Parisian flat containing €2.1 million painting lay untouched for 70 years
This week’s Style Jolt is inspired by my current apartment dilemma: the long, narrow living room. My main living area desperately needs privacy from the office space. Any one of these gorgeous room dividers could solve the problem. (I especially love the idea of bookcase dividers to showcase my constantly growing book collection.)
Both images from The Digital Panda
Sex and the City 2 hits screens this Thursday, May 27th, and it’s time to catch up with our favorite four girls, New York City, beautiful clothes and as always, the incredible shoes. Of course, we’re also dying to see the set design, so we snagged a sneak peek of Carrie and Big’s new apartment.
After two years of searching all over Manhattan, I bought a home! I’m so tangled in the red tape that I haven’t had time to think about actually LIVING there. It’s an old department store that was converted into a co-op: 800 square feet with 17-foot brick barrel ceilings. The previous owner drywalled the brick ceilings and walls and painted them an awful red faux finish. There’s an ugly staircase and salmon colored marble on every surface in the kitchen.
I thought living in my new space sans aesthetic improvements would be okay for the time being but now that I’m about to move in, I’ve had a change of heart. So I’ve prioritized: 2 cheap changes with a big impact.
First: The faux finish will be covered in a clean white paint to brighten and modernize the space. My second improvement is will surprise you…I want a swing. It’ll remind me not to take this so seriously. I’ve been consumed by the stress of buying, so the swing serves as a reminder that even though this new home is a huge responsibility, it’s first and foremost, HOME. So, What kind of swing do I choose?
This swing was on Apartment Therapy:
It reminds me of the swing we had at summer camp overlooking the lake.
How about this one? It reminds me of my backyard swing from my childhood home:
Ahhh, the Bubble Chair. A pricey modern classic. I love how it doesnt block the view:
The wicker hanging chair is a common option. It comes in many shapes and styles:
I love that these chairs look like they were made out of twigs and rope:
Which hanging chair do you think I should go with or are you totally opposed to my hanging chair idea all together?
Preparing for parenthood seems like a daunting task. I’m not a parent yet, so I can only speculate, but I’ve seen kids and I know people with kids. And I feel for hopeful new parents-to-be, with all the questions that must come along. Do we have what it takes to raise a healthy, happy little person who will someday contribute meaningfully to society? What’s a great name that won’t come back to haunt us 15 years from now? Will we surrender to the chicken nuggets-for-dinner-every-night debate? But in urban areas another more pressing question comes up quickly: where will we put this new little friend? Such is the topic in the House & Home section of today’s New York Times. Case in point:
For four years [Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan and husband Maxwell] shared a 265-square-foot, one-bedroom rental on Bedford Street in the West Village, an apartment so preposterously miniature it could fit neatly inside the foyer of many apartments uptown. They made it work for the two of them in part by jettisoning clothes, a television and a home office. “It never felt too small,” said Ms. Gillingham-Ryan, 31, a food writer. “It helps to keep your life well edited.”
No amount of editing, it seemed, would create enough room for a baby. But after looking at more than a dozen apartments, and weighing the benefits of more square footage against the burden of debt, they decided to stay on Bedford Street, where they pay $780 a month for rent. And they would renovate to accomplish the seemingly impossible: accommodate a baby.
So is this conundrum limited to downtown walk-ups or is making room for baby getting trickier in general? Or is the transition to parenthood easier in other areas of the country? (And I do mean from a decorating perspective only.) Let’s hear it.
In the meantime:
Before-and-Afters: Nursery Makeovers (HGTV)
Comparison Shop for Nursery Furniture and Accessories (Shopzilla)