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How to Personalize a Rental Unit

Custom cabinet hardware, temporary backsplashes, adhesive wallpaper, and more ways to decorate an apartment

Illustration: Ben O'Brien
Vinyl tile stickers
Vinyl tile stickers, from $50 for a 24-by-48-inch panel, quadrostyle.com
Photo: Courtesy of Quadrostyle
Keitha Brathwaite
Photo: Jeremy Witteveen

Keitha Brathwaite

Cofounder and principal of Contrast Design Group in River North

When it comes to working within renter restrictions, details count. One easy-to-execute example: Change the hardware on cabinets. MyKnobs.com has unique knobs and will let you customize anything. These are items that you can take with you to your next place. For the kitchen, Home Depot sells temporary backsplashes called Smart Tiles that look like glass. I’ve also used tile stickers from Quadrostyle that cover uneven or ugly floors for little investment and effort. If you have to keep the walls white, pump up the accessories. I have a turquoise Keurig coffeemaker, and it gives me joy every morning. Accent pillows from HomeGoods can be changed seasonally, as can affordable bedding from Wayfair. And don’t put up a boring shower curtain; Bed Bath & Beyond has many options.

 

Solid zinc sculptures
Solid zinc sculptures, $165 for a set of nine, jaysonhome.com
Photo: Courtesy of Jayson Home
Edyta Czajkowska
Photo: Marcin Wojtaszek

Edyta Czajkowska

Founder and principal of Edyta & Co. in Park Ridge

Rentals often feel cold, but you can warm them with custom elements that won’t cost a fortune and can be repurposed later. Adhesive wallpaper is a great way to add a personal feel without permanence. Even covering just one wall will add some drama. Tempaper’s Chinoiserie line has the hand-painted look of de Gournay paper, at a fraction of the cost. Another smart place to customize is the drapery. Even if you invest in quality fabric — like from Schumacher, a high-end brand whose textiles cost some $200 per yard — you can turn it into throw pillows or bedspreads once you move out. I also like to accessorize. Jayson Home’s minimalist geometric sculptures, which are solid zinc, can be displayed as a single cluster or scattered on shelves. And fresh flowers always add a sculptural element.

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