Making a rental feel like home

I’ll just tell you straight up since you didn’t ask: I’m not thrilled about being a renter again. This was kind of an abrupt move from Chicago, so we figured we’d lease at first to get the lay of the land and then eventually buy when we settle ourselves. But wait. What I totally forgot about me is that I’m criminally impatient. I adjust quickly and move fast and now the thought of paying someone else’s mortgage for two years (TWO YEARS) makes me want to thrash around in the lawn like a toddler. Hi neighbors!

I’m determined to be chill though. Determined. Chill. Just like my surroundings. You know what I’ve noticed about Californians? They are like island people. You’ll be like, “um, there’s a foot-long dead rat in that swimming pool” and they’re like, heyyyyyy mannnnnn, we’ll fish that carcass out on ISLAND TIME.

So I’m making myself at home in someone else’s home. I can’t remodel it. I can’t blow out the kitchen to make more sense out of the pantry area. I can’t just rip things up with my hands and start sanding. No. I have to use stick-on hooks and tip toe around in ballet flats so it seems like no one has ever been here. Maybe we can all hold our breath until 2017.

Thus, here is how I have made a rental my home for the next 20% of a decade (please shoot me – we’re on island time, so I know it will take you a while to waltz over here with some cyanide):

1. Display your favorite mugs under the cabinets using sticky hooks. Maybe I didn’t mine that backsplash or handpick that hardware, but what do you even notice in this picture? Perhaps my adorably calculated mugs? Also, the little judging owl?


If my kid couldn’t read yet, I’d totally arrange these to spell something dirty.

2. Use what’s already there. Is this chandelier a tad opulent for this small room? Yes. Is it exactly my taste in chandeliers? Only 90%. But whatever. Stick up some goofishly small prints of animals doing zany things and voile. We have an absurd room that works.


I’d like to commend myself on not hating this yellow paint. Yay, me.

3. Lean all your art on the mantel instead of putting nails in other peoples’ walls they might not like. I like this look anyway. When left to my own devices, my taste has a tendency to get a little fussy so the casual feel of leaning artwork brings me down a notch. Plus, isn’t this a great white they chose? It reminds me of down feathers. I just remembered I am verrrryyyy sleepy.



4. Paint your stuff, not their stuff. My older girls shared a room in Chicago because I am a mean woman and I like to take over the guest room with my junk. Same story here. In Chicago, their room had pink walls and bright, white frames and mirrors everywhere. These rental bedroom walls come in Realtor White and while I could legally or technically-speaking paint them, my elbow grease does not stretch to cover someone else’s house. So. I painted all the white accessories pink and now we just have a flip flop. It’s Bizarro Room. (A photo of the finished product is forthcoming on Facebook. Stalk on by!)

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5. Trust me, I hate my Frozen references too, but I’m the mom of three little girls and the songs haven’t stopped in over one calendar year so I’ll just say those grating, yet oddly universal words anyway: Let it go. I’m renting. It’s a fact. I was a renter before, then a homeowner, then a landlord myself and now I’m renting again. It’s the real estate circle of life. I’m making the decision to accept it and maybe even to flip a house on the side or something. HGTV, CALL ME! Big deep breathe in. It’s still a home no matter who pays the taxes.

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As long as we have the dool houses, we’re home.

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