Home & Decor

Kim, Fix My House: Decorating a Rental

Q: How can I have a design-savvy space when renting a home?


Like an ugly stepsister, decorating a rental is usually less enticing than designing a purchased home. But there are lots of benefits to NOT being a homeowner! Here are a few ideas for updating your rental without losing your damage deposit.

MOONLIGHTING Sure, you might not see yourself living in your current rental for more than a couple years but that’s no reason not to upgrade your light fixtures. Lighting is usually the worst feature of a rental and many older buildings come with generic fixtures that look cheap and dated. Go bold or go home! In a bathroom, changing out a boring flush mount fixture for a chandelier adds pizzazz. Lighting is also easy to change because you can often do it yourself or ask that cute neighbour down the hall for a little help.

If you’re not able to upgrade your fixtures due to budgetary or technical reasons, don’t overlook the addition of stylish floor and table lamps. Or simply exchange an ugly old lampshade for a new one with a geometric pattern in black and white.

HARD CORE DESIGNER You don’t have to be stuck with shabby inexpensive hardware on your cabinets. Switching them out can drastically change the look of your kitchen or bathroom. This is an easy way to get rid of boring hardware and add your own personal touch. Peruse your local hardware store to see what strikes your fancy. Remember to keep the old hardware so you can replace it when it’s time to move.

TAP TO THE RHYTHM Ditch your sputtering, low-pressure showerhead and replace it with a fancy rain showerhead, an adjustable model, or even a flexible handheld. A new showerhead can literally change your life, and it’s something that’s easy to do yourself and can be transferred to your next home. Take a ho-hum space and transform it into a relaxing spa or an elegant powder room. Don’t overlook towel racks, hooks and the toilet paper holder. There are so many stylish models to choose from that you can complete the look with a few, affordable additions.

WITH A FRINGE ON TOP Lacklustre window treatments are a clear indication that your home is temporary. With their dusty, old drapes or bent vertical blinds, window coverings are another area where rentals are sorely lacking. Upgrade your space by hanging stylish curtains in a colour or pattern that pops. Installing a new rod with interesting finials can make all the difference. Even simple Roman blinds can freshen up a room, delivering a custom feel without the custom price.

FROM HEAD-TO-TOE Usually you are stuck with whatever finishes are in place once you sign the lease. Perhaps it’s dated parquet or wall-to-wall carpeting in a dull colour. Changing those features is usually not an option, or worth the money required, but you can camouflage the problem with an extra large area rug that coordinates with your other décor. Rugs help add texture and colour to a space. A truly great area rug will cover up a multitude of sins as well as helping to tie together your design vision. Remember this is an investment piece that you can bring with you whenever you move.


Text by Kim Bartley

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Kim Bartley, Principal of Kim Bartley Design, brings 25 years of business ownership and management to the table. Kim’s keen eye for design lends her rooms an edgy sophistication while remaining current and functional. Her philosophy is that your home should make you happy and reflect your lifestyle and changing needs. Focusing on unparalleled client care, Kim aims to make the design experience positive and enjoyable at each phase of the project. She works collaboratively with her clients to develop spaces that are clean and modern but still warm and approachable. Kim believes that everyone deserves to live in a beautifully designed space and focuses on truly “getting” her clients.

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