8 Ways to Personalize Your Temporary Rental

Well, it’s PCS season again around here. My husband got last minute orders to a new location, so we have spent the past month going back and forth between places, trying to find a place to live and then actually moving our furniture out. This time we had the Navy move us, and the experience was quite different than our last DITY move. But that is a totally different topic, so let’s get back on point. When my husband checked in here, he found out about 95% chance we will be moving somewhere else (this time on the opposite side of the country or over seas instead of a mere 6 hour drive away) in February. So, that gives us about 7-8 months here and totally ruins my initial plans I had for this apartment.

This is just after movers unpacked all our boxes at the new place!

Our last place was on base, in a very old home. Since I grew up in a Victorian, I am well equipped to deal with old house “quirks”. You know, weird outlets, power constantly going off, creaky everything, windows that are painted shut.. oh, that last part was just the housing office being “creative”. Things I was not prepared for there: BUGS. Holy hell the palmetto bugs roaches were insane. That is the one good thing about Chicago- the bugs die every winter. In the south, and especially in an old house, the bugs grow to giants and the flow is constant- regardless of how much you clean. Anyway, this new place is the total opposite of the old house. We are in a 3rd floor apartment in the center of the nicest area in Jax and everything is gated, stainless steel appliances, granite counters, windows that open, and NO BUGS (so far, knock on wood). This place is gorgeous and almost the same square footage of our duplex at the last base. So after lumpy, glossy white walls.. I had big plans for this place. I told myself that our next place I would paint. I would hang things. I would make it mine. Well, now knowing we have all of 8 months here… my plans have slightly changed. So, how do I even make something so temporary feel like home? Is it even worth it? Well, my answer to the second part of that is yes, it is definitely worth it. Move in, unpack, make it your home no- matter how temporary. The answer to the first part I am going to lay out in a matter of 8 steps:

1. Choose Flexible Furniture Pieces It’s important to have flexibility with your furniture because you never really know what is next. Maybe instead of that huge sectional couch, you get a sofa and some arm chairs or a love seat. That way you are not stuck with some big bulky piece of furniture that doesn’t fit in your next house. wpid-wp-1404838607173.jpegwpid-wp-1404838607141.jpeg

2. Hang Art I cannot stress how important this is (for me at least). I hate bare walls and a place doesn’t really feel like it is mine until I have my pictures and paintings up on the walls. Especially since I work and live in the same space, it is so important for me to enjoy my environment and not let it feel temporary- even though it is. If you are really against hanging anything on the walls, you can always use a dresser or bookshelf as a ledge and layer some photos just leaning against the wall. You’ll probably want to use some larger photos to do this so it looks intentional and impactful, and not like you forgot to hang something.

3. 3M Strips and Hooks This sort of goes along with hanging art.. Don’t want nail holes in the wall? Invest in some 3M velcro strips that you can reuse (at least the part that’s attached to the frame every time). Our last house had impenetrable walls- we broke several nails and screws trying to hang things, so that’s when I discovered 3M. We also bought a few hooks and I even found this awesome mail holder and key holder by 3M to hang at the front door. It’s awesome to put the dog leash on and our keys, so we don’t lose them or (heaven forbid) throw them on the counter or ottoman somewhere and cause clutter. None of these things make holes in the wall and all I can continue to take with us to the next place.

curtains4. Curtains This helps get some color up on the walls without having to actually paint. This apartment only has 3 windows, so I can hang curtains here with minimal cost. This time (since I can drill into the wall) I hung the curtain rods the old fashioned way. Back at our last place I had to be super creative and figured out that I could use some large 3M hooks on the wall to hold up the curtain rods. To the right is what  I did at our last place if you are curious. wpid-wp-1404840703852.jpeg

5. Get Some Small Plants Don’t spend too much money here, as movers will not move live plants! I went to Home Depot and found 3 small plants that I can either transport myself to our next location, or leave behind. I spent about $15 total on the plants, pots, and some potting mix. Plants just sort of lighten up the room and bring a hint of freshness. Make sure you pay attention to how much light your house gets in the spot you plan to put your plants. I got all super easy maintenance low light plants and they’re perfect. wpid-wp-1404838607146.jpeg

6. Area Rugs Area rugs are a great way to customize a room to your style without changing the wall color or doing any sort of construction. They’re relatively inexpensive and can totally transform a room. They are also helpful if you have a huge open concept living space and need to break up the sections a bit. The one we currently have is not my favorite thing in the world- it’s a bit dark, especially in our already sort of dark apartment. I would love to eventually upgrade and get something lighter/brighter. Make sure you measure how large of an area rug you will need based on your room layout and size. I found my current area rug at Home Goods for $120 a few years ago. It’s a 5×7 and the rug is a great quality. We also got a cheap outdoor rug for the patio. Our patio is awesome and has french doors that when open make the whole living room feel so much bigger. It feels like you are outside, even though you are inside. The outdoor rug I purchased is from Ikea and I believe was only like $30 or so for a 5×7. It is perfect for our patio because it hides the awful stains on the concrete from the previous tenants. wpid-wp-1404840959397.jpeg

7. Pillow Covers If you have a few standard sized throw pillows, you can easily change up your look for the season or to match your home. Maybe your rental is already painted something not neutral and your decor doesn’t match. Or maybe you just tire easily of the same old decor as I do. I have found that there are plenty of online stores that have fabulous pillow covers. These just zip over your pillow forms and they are very cheap. You can totally change your look for a matter of a few dollars. Here are my favorite places to buy pillow covers: H&M, West Elm, Ikea, and Etsy.

8. Removable Wallpaper / Wall Decals Etsy is a great resource for this as well. This is a fun and relatively inexpensive way to add some color and pattern to your walls, or drawers, or wherever you decide to put it. I have navy blue arrow decals that I place behind my TV. They are super easy to install and stick very well. I originally put them up in our last home and they seemed to be sticky enough that I can reuse them here. I have not managed to put them up yet here though… I need to find where they packed my level. What I got came with a set of  40 individual arrows that I could place on the wall however I pleased. Here is a link to them on etsy: Navajo Arrows . They are awesome and give the room just a little bit more interest without having to buy more art to hang. I would love to eventually do a whole wall (or maybe even room) with wallpaper, but for now I am sticking with a few decals. I’m very happy with the way this apartment came together without even doing half of the projects I initially intended. I feel at home here, even though I know it is so temporary. I’m a firm believer in fully unpacking at each new location, no matter how short the duration. It also helps that I love the decorating/organizing process after the move is complete.

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