Skip to main content

My rule of thumb for rentals – and come to think of it, the year 2020 – is there’s a lot you can’t control, but it’s possible to accentuate the good and minimize the bad.

Let’s start big. While your situation may or may not be temporary, ensure that your furniture isn’t. Invest in the best pieces you can afford, like a stylish sofa, comfy reading chair, and a proper bedframe with a headboard. Good quality furniture has a more refined, settled-in feel that’ll make you think, “Ah, I’m home!” without a sad trombone soundtrack when you walk through the door.

Speaking of making an entrance, create a sense of arrival with a slim console table (a bar cart would look terrific, too), mirror, and runner or mat on the floor. A couple of hooks for coats and a chair for putting on shoes are also essential. If space is tight, find a cute folding chair. Bamboo folding chairs, available at Walmart and Wayfair, add warmth and texture, and look just as good when collapsed and leaning against the wall.

Stuck with cheap bi-fold closet doors in the bedroom? Consider a paint or wallpaper job to take them from basic to beautiful. New handles help, too. Existing window treatments are easy to swap out and put back again when you move. Ditch the ones that came with the place and dress up the windows with custom romans or ready-made drapes that’ll add instant softness and make the room feel enveloping.

To me, “homey” is a synonym for “personal” – you want your space to look and feel like you. That’s easier said than done when the bathroom has a dingy floor or the kitchen backsplash has seen better days. One solution that’s come a long way is, bear with me here, peel-and-stick tile. If you’re envisioning 1970s laminate and thinking, “Ugh, no thanks,” I don’t blame you, but I’d also bet good money that a quick Google search will change your mind.

The new generation of peel-and-stick tiles mimic everything from trendy terrazzo and classic Carrara marble subway tiles, to millennial pink hexagons and Moroccan mosaics. Home Depot and Wayfair are a good place to start for basics, though specialty retailers, like Quadrostyle or Mirth Studios have a wider and more crave-worthy selection of colours and patterns. Tip: A busy pattern may be more successful at hiding grout lines on the actual tile underneath.

Finally, nothing makes a place homey like setting a nice table, yes, even when it’s just for you, or those who live there with you. Light the candles, use real linen napkins, and pull out the good glasses. Doesn’t that feel better?

Need some advice about interior design and decor? Send your questions to personaldesigner@globeandmail.com.

Sign up for the weekly Style newsletter, your guide to fashion, beauty and design, and follow us on Instagram @globestyle.