I’m always on the look out for how to decorate a rental property. So many people these days, especially those of us living abroad, are renting our homes for long periods of time and want to make them our own. So I was thrilled to find two rental properties featured in the June issue of House Beautiful. Both homes – one a historic Charleston house and the other a San Francisco apartment – are full of inspiration and ideas for renters.
Up first stylist Jill Sharp Weeks‘s house in Charleston, South Carolina. As I wrote recently, Southern designers are killing it at the moment, and this home is no different. If the exterior is this adorable you know the inside has to be good!
Jill started by painting the entire interior, including the trim and cabinetry, the same color – a soft gray – which unified the space and gave her a beautiful backdrop for her neutral furnishings and dramatic art. This is a great trick for creating a cohesive backdrop in a rental, especially small spaces or homes with busy architecture.
Jill chose solid, neutral upholstery and furniture, sticking with a tight palette of gray, white, black and light wood tones. As a stylist, she of course did an amazing job in accessorizing the house. This is the best way as a renter to add personality and make the space your own. The large scale art – a triptych of her jewelry collection – fills the whole wall. Hey, go big or go home! And how cool is that chandelier?!
The house is full of different textures and materials, which adds so much interest, even if the colors are minimal. Here Jill created a vanity/desk area in the master bedroom with a mix of pieces in rustic wood, metal, woven cane and ceramic. I need her to style my house!
She also added light fixtures where needed. Here in the guest bedroom, Jill hung wall sconces with the cords covered in natural rope – a perfect solution for renters who need more lighting but when there isn’t built-in wiring.
And Jill didn’t neglect the outdoor space, bringing in additional plants and furniture to create an additional living area. A simple touch – she strung up lights to make the patio useable at night and to create atmosphere.
Now on to John Mayberry’s apartment in San Fransisco. The retired designer brought in friend and fellow decorator Antonio Martins to help him transition from a large house to a high-rise building. There was lots about the apartment that John couldn’t change, including the plain white wall color, a lack of architectural interest and the bland wall-to-wall carpet, so he got creative.
In the living room, he hung his massive art collection from floor to ceiling, covering the white walls and creating the effect of wallpaper without anything permanent. If you’re renting, trying something like this is a great alternative to painting a wall. Just be sure to fill all the holes when you move out!
The neural scheme works well in this small space, and also highlights the unique mix of antique pieces and impressive art. To help tie everything together, and cover the boring carpet, John laid down sisal rugs with black binding to cover most of the floor. Layering inexpensive rugs over existing flooring works well to hide ugly tile, wood or carpet and achieves a more bespoke look.
One touch I really like is how John established a working space in the bedroom, using filing cabinets as a base for a desk for storage. But he was careful to keep the space from looking like an office, but pairing it with an open shelving unit to display sculptural pieces (no papers in sight!).
Who said you can’t make a place your own just because you rent!