making a rental feel like home.
by victoria comment

4/11/19

bohemian modern entryway with vintage white pedestal table and chairs. / sfgirlbybay

what really makes a house a home? it’s not necessarily a mortgage, is it? we’ve all rented at one point in our lives, and until recently i’ve rented my entire life. so i’ve been there — and apartment hunting can be frustrating and competitive. Finding the right apartment in this tight market can be tough enough without dealing with nightmare rental agencies, agents, and outrageous fees. i was invited to check out — a rental platform born out of frustration with the old way of renting, creating a smooth, efficient, and transparent renting process for both tenants and landlords. is the first rental marketplace where tenants can search for and rent an apartment on their end-to-end platform, designed to help landlords and renters move through the decision process in as little as 15 minutes. and once you’ve found your dream apartment, that’s when it’s time to really make it uniquely your own.

vintage oil paintings. / sfgirlbybay

you know how when you’re just starting out in an apartment, maybe decorating for the first time and you’re feeling a little cautious or limited? maybe you’ve got boring budgets to contend with, or perhaps because you’re in a rental so you don’t want to do anything too permanent. i think that’s quite alright — it’s sometimes wise to take things slowly, adding elements to our homes over time, rather than all at once. this process ensures you make far fewer decorating faux pas, and get it just right, rather than wasting your budget with snap decisions. it can also be much more gratifying and fun to go slowly as you decorate, revising plans and tweaking your ideas as your awareness for your design aesthetic becomes more clear. you kind of grow into your space!

whitewashed entryway in victoria smith's bohemian modern home in l.a. / sfgirlbybay

i thought i’d share a few things i’ve learned over the years to add a bit more style to a rental with some easy and inexpensive projects that you can do to completely change the look of a room without spending a ton of cash. and, they’re decorating ideas that are easy fixes — ensuring that if you grow tired of them, or decide you want a change it’s no big deal. things like paint, for instance, are always an easy fix if your landlord approves (i’ve very often offered to pay for the paint just to get them onboard — even if that just means a fresh coat of white paint).

mixed and matched throw pillows. / sfgirlbybay

a few easy and inexpensive fixes:

• if your landlord says yes, paint! i think i once painted a bathroom three times, so while the room may have shrunk (ha!) the mood change was always a pretty easy and affordable transition.

• fresh flowers can make a huge difference (plants, too!). i try to hit the flower mart at least a couple of times a month for inexpensive branches and flowers. or go wild, and forage the hillsides for your own.

floral arrangement in glass vase. / sfgirlbybay

vintage oil painting collection leaned on the floor. / sfgirlbybay

• if you aren’t allowed to put nails in your walls, consider 3m command strips — they remove easily and don’t leave marks on your walls. however, if you want to look tres chic and effortlessly cool, just lean your artwork against the walls or cabinets and dressers. i swear, it looks great.

low white cabinet with artwork, books and records on top. / sfgirlbybay

• use furniture that doubles as storage — like this sweet and petit table (just below) that’s also a magazine rack. perfect space saver for smaller apartments. daybeds are a good solution, too — perfect for seating but also ideal for last-minute sleepovers. ikea has got great design and loads of super affordable options. look there first for statement pieces and easy storage solutions for sure.

• accessorize! pillows and rugs can make a dull room come to life. there are so many textile options online these days, so let your keyboard do the walking. or, if you’re handy, get out your sewing machine make your own pillows. vintage fabrics found at the flea market make for beautiful, one of a kind pillows.

large frame photograph over white sofa with mix n' match throw pillows. / sfgirlbybay

ornate gold leaves mirror and wall sconces. / sfgirlbybay

• speaking of vintage flea market finds: i found these wall sconces and mirror for next to nothing.  i’ve also found dressers and chairs super cheap on craigslist. even beat up old pieces given a coat of glossy black paint can look fabulous. a very small investment for a quart of paint and a little elbow grease.

• books!!! for me, what really makes a house a home are my books. they’re like best friends i just can’t part with. arrange them by spine color for a really cohesive and good looking bookshelf. or, seek out those little nooks and crannies (especially unique in older apartments) and stack your books for a great look.

vintage black mirror and ceramic bird in white nook. / sfgirlbybay

books on white built-in bookshelves. / sfgirlbybay

so it’s exciting to finally take some chances with your design plans as you get more comfortable with your taste — after all the hard work you put in to accomplish your goals around renting your home, it’s time to start to have a little fun with your decorating — and without spending a ton of money. and remember, it’s always a work in progress! now, go find your perfect rental.

open white shelves with ceramic mugs and pitchers and wood kitchen tools. / sfgirlbybay

is available on the web, iOS, and Android and offers key search tools such as the capability to search for specific amenities, create alerts to notify you of similar listings and find specific neighborhood information such as rent prices and demographics. home sweet home is just an app away!

• This is a sponsored post in partnership with  and all words and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that help keep sfgirlbybay going with fresh content every day.

7 responses to “making a rental feel like home.”

  1. This is so great, Victoria. I am planning on selling my condominium next spring and moving to a smaller town north of Seattle. To be able to check locations and prices on Zumper is definitely helpful. Thanks so much.

    • Oh sure! The three larger pillows in back are from The Inside, and my design collaboration with them:

      The one on the left is from The Loveliest Company:

      And the pink one on the right is from Anthropologie, but I’ve had it a really long time:

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