Oct 30, 2014

Temporary Decorating Ideas for Renters - Making a Rental Property Your Own



Oh how those words ring true for those of us who jump from rental home to rental home. While not always an easy task, we gladly meet the challenge of making a rental home our own even though we're merely transient dwellers.

Where we live is our home, regardless of ownership, and it's only natural to want to make it at least look and feel like our own.  Here are some great low-cost rental home decorating ideas that I've collected and now share with you in hopes that you'll be inspired to make your rental an abode you're proud to call home.

How do you feel when you walk into an empty box of a rental like this property from Renters Pages?


There's so much potential but where do you start in making this your own?  What sort of temporary fixes can make a space like this feel like home?

I hope the rental ideas below inspire you to make a "rental sweet rental"!

1) Temporary wall treatments


I love the idea of finding beautiful sheets of wrapping paper or wallpaper, then placing the paper in large frames and hanging them on the wall.  This serves as a beautiful focal point in any space and is very affordable.  Ikea has some wonderful large frame options.  If your landlord doesn't allow the use of nails, 3M Command Hooks serve as very effective but temporary hangers.


Thanks to new wall covering technologies, there are even temporary wallpaper options for renters! The above photo shows a temporary wallpaper by Chasing Paper.  The options and patterns they offer abound.  The temporary wallpapers would be a lovely feature in an entryway, a small powder bath, or covering an accent wall in a larger room.


There are some great DIY tips available on many blogs, like Mandi's Vintage Revivals blog (see photo above), which share how to use fabric and fabric starch or corn starch to create a wallpaper-like temporary wall treatment.  The finished product looks amazing, so it's definitely a great option for renters and homeowners alike.


A final cost-effective wall treatment idea is to create a stamp with craft foam and cardboard, then use paint to repeat a pattern on a feature wall.  The above anchor motif was created by A Beautiful Mess blog.  The easy DIY instructions can be found here here.

2) Temporary Kitchen Upgrades


Can you believe it, y'all?  This is NOT a stainless steel dishwasher!!  You can purchase stainless steel contact paper at many home improvement stores and apply it to the fronts of appliances and even cabinets for a temporary upgrade.  It looks very real and completely updates a space.  Details for applying the contact paper can be found on the Coordinating Yours blog.


Just like temporary wallpaper, temporary tiles can be used to temporarily dress up a rental space.  Smart Tiles is a company that has myriad options of temporary peel and stick tiles that can be used for a kitchen or even bathroom vanity backsplash.


This DIY rolling shelf system is a fantastic kitchen storage idea for renters.  There is often extra space to the side of a refrigerator, so this utilizes that void as a clever storage solution.  It's the perfect option in a rental home that lacks pantry space.  The instructions for building your own similar storage system can be found on the Classy Clutter blog.


I'm especially partial to a blackboard paint kitchen basksplash because that's what we have in our rental home right now.  The photo above shows a great example of using a chalk pen over blackboard paint to create subway tiles for a backsplash.  The tutorial for how to do this (the right way) can be found on the Blooming Hydrangea blog.

3) Miscellaneous Around-the-House Updates


Does your rental have an unsightly light fixture that you'd love to cover?  Well if you have a semi-flush mount light fixture, here's a fantastic idea...use a drum shade to cover the existing fixture. Details on how to do this can be found on The Blissful Bee blog.  Keep in mind, some landlords allow you to actually change lighting as long as you reinstall the original fixture before you move out.  We've done this in our rental, and it's made a HUGE difference.


No mudroom, no problem!  Here's a great way to create a visually attractive and highly useful spot for shoes, umbrella, and coat storage near an entry or in a laundry room.  Use a boot tray, wooden crate or large baking pan for shoes, an umbrella stand or large vase or pitcher for umbrellas, and decorative hooks hung on the wall.  An addition of a small floating shelf would be a prime spot to drop keys and mail.


Window treatments that don't require any installation of hardware are a fantastic option for renters. The above no-sew faux Roman shade treatment featured on the Southern in the City blog is a brilliant concept.   The use of multiple tension rods, fabric, and iron-on hem tape allows for a high-end look without an expensive price tag.  There's no way to tell those aren't expensive Roman shades!

Well friends, those were just a few of my favorite ways to help make a rental your own.  What other ideas have you used to fix up your rental space to make it feel just a little more like home?  Do share!

Oct 24, 2014

Iceland or Bust!

I'm super stoked because we just booked our flight and hotel for a trip to Iceland this next Summer!!

It's a place I never dreamed of going until friends of ours went on a cruise and absolutely LOVED it (thanks Rach!).  We started to look into it and discovered it was a rather easy and considerably affordable trip from where we live in Boston.  The rest is history...Iceland or bust!!

Check out some of this scenery I found while researching what Iceland has to offer - it's more majestic than any other landscape I've ever witnessed in this grand world we live in.








After that perhaps you'll be dreaming of Iceland too!  Have you ever been?  Is it on your bucket list?  Do tell!

Oct 21, 2014

Delicious Dill Steak Kabobs (Gluten, Dairy, & Nut Free!)

Hey friends!  This is a delicious and rather simple recipe that was featured in the June 2014 Better Homes and Gardens magazine.  As always, I changed it up a bit based on what I had/didn't have...


Ingredients:

8-12 tiny yellow or red potatoes (I used small Yukon gold potatoes)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb sirloin steak, cut into 1 1/2 in cubes
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp dill weed (original recipe calls for 1 tsp dill seeds, crushed, which would be much more flavorful)
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 medium red onion, cut into wedges

Directions:

1. A few hours ahead of time, place steak cubes in large resealable plastic bag and add following items to bag for marinade: 1 Tbsp olive oil, vinegar, dill weed/seeds, black pepper, red pepper, and a dash of salt.  Shake shake shake!  Let sit in fridge for a bit, then remove about 30 min before cooking.

(reminder: don't forget to place wooden skewers in water to soak before grilling - I used 6 total)

2. In a large pot bring salted water to boiling.  Add potatoes, return to boiling, then cover and reduce heat.  Simmer for 12 minutes or until potatoes are just tender.  Drain water then return potatoes to pot, toss in 1 Tbsp of oil and sprinkle with salt (I used an italian spice blend with salt to season mine).

3. Thread marinated steak cubes, potatoes, and onion wedges onto skewers leaving about 1/4 inch between pieces.  Grill skewers on gas or charcoal grill directly over medium heat (rotating skewers occasionally) for 10-12 minutes or until meat is to desired doneness.

Serve and enjoy!  This was a very filling meal for our little family of 3 - we had lots of left overs - so I think it would serve about 4 hungry adults.


Let me know what you think of this recipe.  It's a wonderful gluten, nut, and dairy free recipe to keep on hand if you're hosting any guests with allergies or dietary restrictions!  As long as they're not vegetarians...

Oct 17, 2014

Friday Fun House

Every once in a while I come across a really awesome just-downright-fun-looking house that I'd totally love to live in.  This house in London is one of them!


The bright white airy space, those wide plank floors, the oversized gallery shelves, and the fun color accents appeal to my adult self while that backyard rock wall and playhouse call to my inner-child!!

If you look really close, you can see that the chandelier is made of wine glasses!  I presume it was purchased at this UK retailer here.  It looks like a piece of art and serves a rather useful purpose too...especially if you have big wine parties.


Yes folks, that's a tucked-away gold-leaf bar!  These home owners are brilliant and I love how you can tell they don't take themselves too seriously.  The flourescent "boo!" art fixture is simply darling as well.


A peak into the kitchen reveals those to-die-for wide plank floors again, and a cheeky lime green glass backsplash.  Easy clean-up and such fun for the eyes!  And, check out this coffee mug installation...


I LOVE IT!!!  And, I totally agree with it...  I sort of want the family who owns this house as best friends.


There's that playhouse again and a look into the family room.  Not sure how the doors to the backyard work, but I love the plate glass windows and how the doorways seem to be wide open to the outdoors.  There's quite a bit of gray weather in the UK so it's nice to let as much light in as possible.


The bath is clean-lined, serene, and quite perfect at tempering all the fun colors throughout the rest of the home. The big "greige" subway tiles are a nice modern pick.


Yep, I saved my favorite detail for last.  Check out those adorable kid work spaces!!  I'd be fighting over the yellow closet desk space for myself.  Such fun, such brilliance.  Just close them up and voila, it's a tidy hall.

This family rocks!  They simply have to based on the house they've created to call a home.  What do you think of it?  What's your favorite feature??

Oct 15, 2014

Spanish Islands (Mallorca and Ibiza) with a Toddler

Here's a long overdue post on the island portion of our Spain travels last summer!  After a few wonderful days in Madrid, we hopped on the Disney cruise ship and headed off toward Mallorca - the largest island of the Balearic islands archipelago in Spain.  The ship docked in the capital, Palma.  And, my oh my, it was lovely!


First, we visited Bellver Castle - a 14th century fortress that overlooks the sea and the city of Palma.


The gothic architecture was so beautiful.  Fun Fact:  It's one of the few circular castles in Europe.


And, the view wasn't too shabby either...




After a little walk-about, we headed back toward town and the most spectacular Cathedral de Palma.


It happens to be the closest cathedral to the sea, which made for a pretty point of interest as the ship pulled in and out of port.


The surrounding gardens were so vibrant and lush.  I preferred the exterior architecture and beautiful gardens to the interior of the cathedral, which happened to be a little too gaudy for my tastes.  (which is funny because Gaudi just happened to design the interior renovation of the church!)




I hate to say it, but I actually prefer the look of this cathedral to the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.  It was much more detailed, more light-hearted in appearance, and grand.


The rose glass windows inside were quite spectacular.

After our visit to the cathedral, we snacked on a tasty local pastry called an Ensaimada with fresh ice cream. It was light and fluffy and sweet and HUGE.


It's made with pork lard instead of butter, which is likely why it's so delish.  Oink oink!!

Our parting shot of Palma, Mallorca looked like this...


After we departed from Mallora, the ship headed for Ibiza - the techno and night club capital of the world.



While I wasn't terribly stoked to rub shoulders with the typical glow stick swirling clientele, we figured we'd hop ship in the morning.  Most party people would still be hung over then anyways.

Who would miss a morning view of this??


 I was pleasantly surprised to find a quaint little town with lively cafes and boutique shops.


 Fish sticks anyone?  (or that's what it reminded me of...crazy American)


We had a great morning just walking around, taking a selfie here and there.



They had cool old cities walls and a fortress to visit, but we didn't make our way there because we had to get back to enjoy the cruise ship swimming pool and meet a princess or two.

Priorities, I tell ya...but I'd say it's worth a few sightseeing sacrifices when you go on a Disney cruise with an almost 4-year-old.



Some things are never worth missing! ;-)  Speaking of unmissable, the next travel post will feature our time in Barcelona...
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