For Baby Boomer looking to downsize or recent graduates looking for their first apartment, smaller rentals located in urban areas across the country have become a hot commodity in recent years. These units, while small, are usually within walking distance to many shops, restaurants, galleries, and other amenities in a downtown area.
As with any home, however, there are both pros and cons. While centrally located and close to everything, downtown units are often noisy, more expensive, and a little cramped. While she can’t help with the noise or the rent, Seattle designer Karra Michele Huerta does have some tips to help make that smaller rental a bit more “happy”.
Here are a few of the ideas she shared with The Washington Post:
Dump the mini-blinds: Tuck the mini-blinds away in a closet and go with ready-made fabric, woven shades, or even curtains.
Add depth to a narrow gallery kitchen: Remove cabinet doors to create a custom look and give the kitchen a personality. This will not only make your kitchen feel larger, but the space will feel cozy and inviting.
Maximize empty space: Utilize the awkward foot of space between the top of your kitchen cabinets and the ceiling by arranging a row of chunky rectangular baskets on top of the cabinets to store household supplies.
Upgrade light fixtures: Ask your landlord’s permission to swap out cheap, unattractive light fixtures with something more modern, such as pendants or a chandelier.
Don’t be afraid to paint: Have a discussion with your landlord about painting the rental in your own color scheme. Understanding landlords will be okay with this as long as the tenant is willing to repaint back to the original color. Some landlords may even agree to keep the color if they like it.
Camouflage the unflattering: Use adhesive paper to disguise eyesores such as an old, dented refrigerator. The paper is inexpensive, easy to apply, and peels off when you decide to move.
Treat the bathroom like a real room: Add some interest to your bathroom with vintage pieces such as a wooden grape grate or something unique such as a small Oriental rug instead of a bath mat.
Create the illusion of architectural interest: Dress up basic pieces such as bookcases with faux bois wrapping paper from Paper Source attached with a spray adhesive.
Speak up: If you want to make changes to your rental space, don’t be afraid to ask. The worst that can happen is your landlord says no. Offer to share the cost of upgrades or pay a bit more in rent to make improvements.