Some of the most frequent reader emails I get comes from folks who are in either one of two situations:
- They love to decorate and freshen up their homes, but hate heavy duty DIY (ex: painting walls, whipping out the power tools)
- Are renting or in a temporary housing situation and can’t do heavy duty DIY stuff
as someone who started this blog in 2009 while living in an apartment,
and as someone who has lived in an apartment for the last 9 months (with
3 months to go), I can safely tell you it is possible to make an impact
without power tools AND even if you’re in a rental.
I’ve done quite a few projects in this apartment that I think look phenomenal, such as my guest room, living room, and master bedroom. However, the space I am most proud of is our dining room/space. Instagram folks loved it, too, and it was featured on the IG feed of a popular interior designer. #proud
So today I’m sharing four tips on creating a stunning dining space in a rental (or any space, really).
#1 | SELECT A STATEMENT RUG
If you’re in a rental, chances are your walls are some shade of ivory, white, or beige. This is actually a good thing because you can bring in ANY color palette you’d like via a fabulous area rug. I’m using a 5×8 rug in our space, and we have seating for four.
The other great thing about an area rug is you create a defined space/room. Usually apartments/rentals tend to be small or “open concept” so defining spaces helps create a functional layout.
#2 | SET A GORGEOUS TABLE
If you’re short on kitchen storage, utilize your table as a way to “store” plates and glassware by keeping the table set. I have a set of white dinner plates (you could buy these cheap at Dollar Tree or Walmart) that I use as the foundation for most place settings, and I use salad plates as a way to inject a color or theme onto the table.
Fun napkin rings, candles, gold flatware, faux florals and glassware also help add pizazz to the table. These accessories don’t have to be expensive – you could DIY and get creative, or visit a local thrift/antique store/garage sale to score some inexpensive and unique accents.
#3 | USE YOUR WALLS WISELY
I chose to use some leftover temporary wallpaper from my laundry room project for the tiny wall in my current dining space, and it looks amazing. Overall, it was a project that took about two hours and cost $35, which is a bargain even if you live in the space for only a year.
You can also use fabric to cover a wall, or make an impact with a funky gallery or gorgeous mirror (or a combo of all the above). The point is to make sure your wall or the items on it pop to give the space some life. Remember to use Command Hooks to avoid drilling holes onto the wall.
#4 | RIGHT-SIZE YOUR FURNISHINGS
When we moved into the apartment because we sold our house, it pained me to get rid of our super gorgeous, LARGE dining table. It wasn’t worth the money to store it, and I knew it simply wouldn’t fit. It also wouldn’t fit the new house either, as it turns out, so I’m glad I sold it.
Point being… don’t try to fit super huge furniture in a small space. (If you have a large home with a dining room, you will be the exception.) We love our 41″ IKEA DOCKSTA table, paired with ghost chairs and a small bench. The good thing is retailers are taking note of small space dwellers, and there’s a plethora of stylish, affordable, small furnishings available almost anywhere. There’s also Facebook resale groups, Craigslist or garage sales to scour for gently used small tables (especially once the college students are ready to bounce for the summer).
If getting new furnishings isn’t in the budget, consider keeping a chair or two stashed away to make it roomier, or using a bench for seating that could also be used in a pinch in the living room for extra seating. Below is how we used the exact same furniture in our previous house.
My friends Kathy and Jess also have lived in rental spaces that they made all their own. Trust me, their homes are magazine worthy. Check out their dining room decor tips for renters via the links below.