The place you call home should feel like home, even if it's an apartment rental. That's why interior designer Blake Padgett Wilkie of Canton recommends apartment dwellers make some easy upgrades as soon as they move in. "If you surround yourself with things you love, you'll be happier," she said. "Adding your own touches makes you want to be at home."
In general, the upgrades don't have to be top of the line materials. "And they don't have to be small scale, either!" said Wilkie. "One of the best upgrades you could make, for example, are drop panels that run almost ceiling to floor. They can really pull together a wall or liven up your living space." Here are five other upgrades she suggests for personalizing any rental apartment:
1) Paint: Even if you have to pay for it yourself, you want your walls to be a color you love and enjoy. "Paint a nice neutral color, particularly if you don't have a lot of natural light," said Wilkie, who owns Magnolia Interiors. "Even a wall or two helps." She specifically recommends the currently popular shades of gray, especially Sherwin Williams' Agreeable Gray 7029.
2) Decorate with a functional wall shelf: A cubby or shelf with hooks below can help you make a space more cozy and get more organized at the same time. "Display a few of your favorite books on top or an eclectic mix of china finds," said Wilkie.
3) Splash some color around: Strategic dashes of a color that pops makes an apartment more cheerful, particularly against neutral walls or furnishings. Wilkie likes the idea of painting the backside of an inexpensive bookcase with a lively color and setting it up as a separator in a living space. "That's an easy way to punch up your decor," she said.
One good color to use is Sherwin Williams' Lagoon 6480. "It will go with khakis or grays, and you can pop pillows in to the design from the blue family or that are coral or yellow," she said.
4) Display family photos: You'll feel more at home surrounded by tastefully framed or matted family photos. Wilkie suggests hanging them on the wall, down a hallway or up a staircase. "That way you can start with a few and add to the length of the display as your schedule and budget allow." If you're concerned that a landlord would object, display the photos on an anchor piece of furniture, like a side table or chest.
5) Change up the cabinet hardware: You can personalize your kitchen simply by changing out the dull pulls and knobs that come with the standard apartment. Wilkie suggests Top Knobs as a go-to for up-to-date and fun hardware, or ferreting out vintage knobs at a flea market or antique store. The hardware you purchase doesn't have to be pricey, just something you would like to look at when you come home to fix dinner. "And the nice thing is, if you really like it, you can take it along to your next place," said Wilkie.