I have now been living in rentals for 9 years (I’m not counting living in a dorm room, there are even more rules there, but you are doing the bare minimum to personalize that, at least if you don’t live in the south, there they do crazy things to dorm rooms). So I think I have learned a thing or two about living in apartments and making them my own without doing anything crazy to them. I’ve never painted, I’ve never used peel and stick wallpaper, tile, or flooring, or anything like that to decorate. I don’t have anything against any of those things, but I think that most people don’t do those things outside of the content creator side of the internet. I think that most people are too worried that it will do damage, or they aren’t interested in investing anything into a property they don’t own. I don’t love that school of thought, where you can’t or shouldn’t make changes to a place because you own it. But it does scare a lot of people away, especially in places that require a damage deposit (damage deposits are illegal in Ontario). So, after all this time, these are the things that I think are essential if you’re a renter.
I also put a poll out on my Instagram story asking for other people’s tips and I got some good ones!
Command Hanging Strips/Hanging Kit
So I definitely need way more of the hanging strips than this kit comes with, I love this kit. Before last year I never understood what the ones with the little hooks were for, you can’t hang anything on them, is what I thought. But I was wrong, they are designed for if you are hanging a frame that has hardware on the back, such as picture wire or a French cleat (the little metal spiky thing on the backs of some frames). I still mostly use the velcro hanging strips, they are excellent. I almost exclusively hang things with command strips now, the only exceptions are this one mirror I have that is quite heavy, and my tennis rackets. But if I could figure out a way to hang the tennis rackets with command hanging things I 100% would. I love not having to fill in holes when I move out of places. There is already so much work to do when you leave somewhere that it’s super nice to just eliminate any of the “un-making over” steps, as much as I love those YouTube videos.
I also kept the little container that it comes in because it’s so great for storing extras of the strips and I just bought a massive jumbo pack of the velcro hanging strips from Amazon and have so many now. I think it’s the best value for money on these, because they are expensive; and they’re on sale right now!
Related but different, listen, whoever bought 3M stock when they first came out with these Command products is probably doing quite well now. These are amazing. I have them on the wall next to my door to actually have a place to hang coats since I don’t have an entryway or any kind of hall or entryway storage, you are just in my living room when you walk in the door. And then they are in my bedroom and my bathroom for hanging towels and gym clothes that need drying before they can be tossed in the laundry basket or re-used and hanging my bathrobe. I have used them on the inside of kitchen cupboard doors to hang my measuring cups and spoons when I lived with roommates and only got one door and one cupboard. And then the best part about them is that they are removeable. I don’t know what kind of hooks the tenant before me used, but they are still on the wall. And it’s super clear that my landlord tried to remove them before I moved in and I have tried so many times, but they will not come off. And the ones that have come off have wrecked the finish on the doors that they were on.
Decorate your entryway
My friend Shay brought this one up, decorate your entryway. It is the first and last place that you see every time you go in and out of your place, it is what welcomes you home at the end of each day. It needs to be functional but also warm, welcoming, and personalized to feel like your home whenever you come in.
I don’t really have an entryway in this apartment, you are just kind of in my living room, but I really liked my entryway in my old place. When you first came in you basically just went straight up the stairs, there was a tiny landing at the bottom and I had some command hooks on the wall for coats and reusable bags, but up at the top of the stairs you kind of did a u-turn and there was a door to the roof and then a blank paneled wall before you really got into my apartment. I had my Ikea Hemnes shoe cabinet, a vintage mirror and then seasonal knickknacks on top and then on the paneled wall I had my Rifle Paper Prints that I love so much. I don’t have good pictures of it but it was so cozy.
Hang your art
This is related to the command hanging strips one, but hanging up your own photos, art, and posters is an excellent way to make a place feel like yours. Although, by 28 I feel like if you are hanging posters you should get them framed or at least buy a frame for them. There’s something about a poster tacked up on the wall or taped up that just looks like a dorm room.
Change your lightbulbs
If you can’t change your light fixtures because you’re too scared to, don’t know how, can’t afford to, or don’t have access to your fuse box to turn off the breaker (always turn off the breaker if you’re changing a light fixture or doing anything electrical), try changing your lightbulbs from bright white, verging on fluorescent bright lights and changing them to a yellow light makes everything seem so much more cozy and warm in your place.
This is related to the yellow lightbulbs, but candles add that warm, yellow light and make your place smell nice and feel cozy and comfortable. And you can pick the scents that you like and personalize not just your home’s appearance but also it’s smell.
How do you make your rental feel like home?