Vol 8 No. 14 - December 26, 2007

Add pizzazz with reversible home improvements

By Louise Bolger
sun staff writer

Last week, we discussed the plight of renters who find themselves in the unfortunate position of having to move because the home or apartment they are living in is being foreclosed. This week, as we approach a new year, let’s talk about people who live in rentals, are basically happy but wish they could put more of a personal stamp on their homes.

There are several reversible ways to customize your apartment or rental house without getting tossed out or forfeiting your security deposit. Since a brand new year is just around the corner, now would be a good time to add a few of these projects to your list of New Year’s resolutions:

Most rentals will let you paint, so give rooms a shot of color. Even just an accent wall will perk up a room, or if the thought of brushes, rollers and fumes makes you nuts, try some stenciling. Portable splashes of color can also be achieved through colorful area rugs and throw pillows. And since art is in the eye of the beholder, whatever you think is art, especially if it’s colorful, put on the walls.

While we’re talking walls, cloth is a quick, easy and inexpensive way to change the look of a room. Fabric can be tacked, draped, gathered or hung from rods. When moving day comes, take it all down, fill in the nail holes and, like magic, it’s back to the uninspiring eggshell your landlord painted.

Since storage space is always scarce, especially in a rental, purchasing a few screens to conceal your stuff is an attractive and totally portable investment.

Don’t need the formal dining room in the condo you just rented? Get some three-quarter height bookcases and create another room. Studios, offices, even guest rooms can miraculously appear and disappear. While you’re at it, add a few framed mirrors to open up the smaller space you just established.

If you’re really handy and motivated, build a window seat with bookcases on either end for a nice built-in look that can go with you when you move. You’ll also get the bonus of additional storage under the seat.

Light up your life and your home. Builder’s ceiling fixtures are a serious turn off. Have them replaced if you want to spend the money (but keep the old ones), or flood your space with unique plug-in fixtures and distinctive lamps, all of which belong to you, not your landlord.

You could even change kitchen and bathroom cabinet door handles. Find something new and affordable at discount stores to use while you’re living there and then put the old nasty ones back when you move.

If you’re lucky enough to have outdoor space in your rental, you can indulge your green thumb for very little. Clay pots, barrels and hanging pots can all be planted with colorful flowers that will transform unloved yards and terraces. You can even grow herbs and some vegetables in specially-designed garden boxes. If you like lemons and limes in your drinks, grow some in a large planter on the patio.

Even if you don’t own the space you’re living in, you can still own the space by making improvements that are all reversible. Hard to believe another year has gone by. Resolve that this year your space will have a splash of color and a splash of personality. Happy New Year


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