During our first five years living in Portland, my husband and I rented apartments. Our first place was a small 500 square feet, one bedroom, second floor apartment. We lived there for two years.
Then we moved two blocks to another one bedroom apartment. This place was bigger at 850 square feet. It included a small bonus room (which ended up housing my husband’s bicycles), a larger kitchen, and no neighbors above or below us. It felt like a little house.
While the place certainly had vintage charm, it also had the un-charming side of vintage. It was cold and had no insulation. The walls were thin and the hardware had been painted over time after time. We had to hike to the laundry room and the hot water heater was small.
Still, in all honesty, we enjoyed our time there and I spent a significant amount of time making it feel like home. It was a pretty place. I painted the walls (against the rules!), hung curtains, replaced hardware, and generally took very good care of the place. Despite the rule against painting the walls, we found out that the reason our apartment rented so quickly after we moved out was because of the walls. The new tenant specifically requested that the walls be left as-is. Therefore, we weren’t charged the re-painting fee.
Here is a tour of our old apartment:
This was the living room. One of the nicest features was the huge front window. I painted the walls a very light neutral gray.
This was the view standing in the living room, looking towards the dining nook and kitchen.
This was our small, but charming, kitchen. Modest as it is, we cooked some huge holiday meals here and often entertained groups of ten or more out of this kitchen.
These were open shelves in our kitchen, facing the small dining nook. I mixed our everyday casual white dinnerware with handmade pottery collected over the years. The birds on the bottom shelf are candle sticks and the basket held napkins.
This was our tiny bathroom. I mean, super tiny! With no built-in storage, I used the round basket you see under the sink and installed the shelves to hold toiletries.
This was our bedroom. My favorite parts were the chocolate brown walls, white furniture, and blue curtains. It was so cozy. My new bedroom is actually too big to paint this dark color, and I really miss the warmth the brown brought to the little room.
How have you made rentals feel like home? Have you broken rules by painting walls? What have you liked best about apartments you’ve lived in?