What I Learned From Decorating a Rental

By the time we moved to Boulder, I had been a homeowner for 10 years, living for 5 years in each of two Brooklyn homes. I took decorating them very seriously (despite an utter lack of budget). When you're settling in to a place that you own, there's this idea that you need to get it just right because it is permanent. Of course, the upside is that you can do whatever you want without asking permission: Calypso Blue living room? Sure! (Did it in Park Slope when Dave moved in). Paint the vinyl tile in the kitchen? Of Course! (Did it when we moved out of Park Slope). But there is an inherent freedom in decorating a rental. It is temporary by definition. In Boulder, we knew we would be in that house for one, maybe two years before moving on from Colorado or settling down and buying a place there. While I knew that it didn't make sense to invest much in decorating a temporary place, I'm also not a person who can just live in an unfinished space, so I went to work making it feel like home using (mostly) things that I had.

And you know what? Just by easing up and playing it fast and loose (SO not my usual style), I learned some great lessons that I have brought into our new, "permanent" home. The main thing, of course, is to trust what you love and to try not to worry too much about what it is "supposed" to look like. Believe me, this was a HUGE lesson for old rule-follower me.

I started this post a month ago with so many "lessons," I got kinda overwhelmed. So lets consider this the first in a series. Who know is there will actually be a second.

Create Drama
Most rentals don't have much in the way of dramatic architecture or fabulous features. Create them! In Boulder, the girls were sharing a pretty tiny room, and to create visual interest and give a bit more separation to their sleeping spaces, I hung a $19 mosquito net from Ikea over Clio's bed. Instant drama.

While our new house has loads of light and great space and good, simple choices in fixtures and is really nothing like a rental, it is something of a clean slate: white or gray walls, pale wood, no flourishes, doo-dads or whimsy. The dining room and kitchen are one big room in the middle of the house, with somewhat awkward lines. The room, where we spend an awful lot of time, needed drama. To anchor the space, I turned to Ikea again and hung this enormous chandelier.

It's not to everyone's taste, but it's hard to deny that it offers some drama (a real conversation-starter, too!) Now, I love coming in the front door and catching a glimpse of this around the corner of the stairwell.

I love sitting underneath it's largeness. I love that Eleri calls it "Big Ball" and that Clio says it looks like snowflakes (I think so too.)

And it didn't even take all that much to convince Dave!