There truly is no place like home, even if “home” is a rental apartment or house. That’s why it’s important to decorate your space with furniture and décor that speak to you and make you happy to live there. That’s often easier said than done, especially when you are renting a place and unsure of how much you are allowed to change. Luckily, there are many ways to make a space your own without permanently changing anything, and Shannon Smith and Laura Leigh from Louella Reese are here to prove just that. Laura reached out to Shannon, a designer and blogger, to help her decorate her rental apartment, and the result is stunning! They are here today to offer five reasons why you should decorate your rental apartment or house. Get ready for some major decorating motivation below!
sofa // tufted armchairs // living room rug // framed wedding portraits // print over sofa // plants // floor lamp // similar side table // similar patterned pillow // similar pink pillow // similar tassel pillow
1. Because it’s your home.
“Even though you don’t own it, per se, it is still where you live, where you relax, where you return after work, where you entertain friends and where you should feel the most comfortable. So why not put your personal touch on the space? In Laura’s space, I made sure to include really personal touches to make it feel meaningful. She had recently gotten married and had lots of beautiful photos that we framed, and I also had a custom calligraphy sign framed with lyrics from her first dance with her husband—something she’ll always remember!” – Shannon
“You may not be in this rental property long-term, but you are there now. This rental is your home. It’s where you start and finish your day. You don’t want to feel miserable walking in and out of your apartment, thinking about all of the things you dislike about the space. Instead, you should love the space and style the apartment to make you feel at home and happy!” – Laura
2. Because it’s easier than it looks.
“A lot of people are scared to paint or change too many things in their space because they are afraid to lose their security deposit or they don’t want to have to change it back to its original state. However, there are easy and simple changes you can make that are easy to put up and easy to remove. In Laura’s apartment, for example, we added a removable marble wall decal that looks incredible and peels right off of the wall when you’re ready to move out. You can also add texture and color with fabrics and accents to make it feel more cozy.” – Shannon
“Making a big impact in a rental property is incredibly easy. If you rent a property right now or have in the past, you know they’re all pretty basic. Even if you only do one or two upgrades, you’ll make a big impact on the space (for example, our marble wall). The marble wall is temporary wallpaper, easy to put up and take down. That wall is a huge statement though! Even our maintenance man was googly eyed over it. Paint is another easy way to upgrade. We ended up painting all walls in the space, but even doing just the accent wall would have completely transformed the space.” – Laura
3. Because it’s fun and it challenges you to think outside the box.
“Because you can’t renovate or make permanent changes in a rental apartment, decorating within the requirements of your lease is a really fun challenge that encourages you to think outside of the box. Often, you have to get creative with space, as well, which makes it all the more difficult and fun! Pour yourself a glass of wine and take a good look around your space. Ask yourself: Can that extra closet double as a desk space? Is there a space where you can tuck an extra pair of stools to pull out when you need more seating for friends? You’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish in a small space!” – Shannon
“Decorating a new living space is exciting. Again, this rental property is your home, your space. Why not have a little fun and truly make it your own? Hang those prints you’ve been collecting from your travels. Peruse a local antique shop, fall in love with a piece of furniture and add it to your space. Create a hat wall using all of your favorite woven and felt hats. Whatever you love, find a way to display it in your rental apartment.” – Laura
4. Because it sets you apart and you’ll learn about your personal style.
“So many people resign themselves to the boring, beige box that is typical of so many rental apartments. Don’t let #boringbeige happen to you! Take the time to spruce up your space, and your apartment will be the favorite gathering place for friends and family.” – Shannon
“If you learn all about personal style while renting, that will allow you to know what you want to invest in for your first or forever home. From this experience, I’ve learned I love artwork. Now, I will invest money and make artwork purchases a priority when my husband and I purchase our first home.” – Laura
5. Because it’s possible to combine form and function—and you can take everything with you when you leave.
“You have to unpack and set up furniture anyway, so you might as well make it something that you love!” – Shannon
“If you purchase items you truly love, you will love them in your next home as well. Investing in items now allows you to spend less later. For this space, my husband and I spent quite a bit of time choosing our credenza. We didn’t want to spend a fortune, but we also wanted a piece we both loved. The one that came home with us was a little above our budget but we knew it would be a piece we would use for years to come. Whether it stays in our living room or moves to a guest room or hallway.” – Laura
More On The Collaboration And Design Process
Laura, why did you hire Shannon? How did you find her?
“I hired Shannon because I was at a loss as to how I should decorate our space. With the living room and dining room being one big space, I wanted it to blend together while also being two ‘separate’ rooms. I also wanted the space to be a true reflection of my personal style while being cozy and comfortable. Again, I did not know how to do this. Therefore, I knew I needed help, and after following Shannon for quite some time via social media and her blog, I had all the faith that she could create my dream space. Shannon and I actually knew each other prior to working together. We worked together while in college. We continue to keep in touch through social media and our blogging connection over the years. So again, after seeing her work and having worked with her previously, I had no doubt that Shannon was the one I wanted to partner with on this project.”
Shannon, how did you work on the space together?
“I live in Washington, DC, and Laura lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, so coordinating the design for her apartment was different than you may think when you think of a typical interior design project. I offer e-design services for clients who live all over the world, and we work together to create your dream space completely via e-mail or telephone! I asked Laura to fill out a questionnaire to get a feel for her style and personal tastes, and then pulled together a design board and floor plan filled with pieces that I knew would look great in her space. We consulted and tweaked until she was 100-percent happy with the final result, and then we started filling the space with all of the fabulous pieces! Laura texted me photos and we chatted over the phone and I helped guide her with the final styling and accessorizing. We worked together so well. Laura was so helpful and receptive to my ideas and did an incredible job pulling the space together herself at the end! And the final result is SO her, which is all I can ask for in a design project.” – Shannon
Laura, what was your favorite part about working together as a team?
“Honestly, Shannon’s vision and how she challenged me to choose pieces I would have otherwise never even looked at. Working with Shannon pushed me out of my home décor comfort zone. Also, I loved Shannon’s honesty! If she loved something, she told me. If she hated something, she told me, nicely! Having someone that will be honest with you when decorating your home is extremely important. Especially when they are the designer. As mentioned above, she envisioned the space way better than I did, so if I picked something out that didn’t quite go, I was happy to have her tell me that. I love the end product and a couple of the items I had shared with her, may have ruined that. So as always, honesty is key!” – Laura
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