Interior designer, Maggie Stephens knows how to make rentals feel like “home”. When she and her husband had their first child, it was getting too hard to walk up 3 flights of stairs every day. They soon decided to move to another apartment in the area. Luckily, it was already painted in a calming off-white — a renter’s dream! — so there wasn’t any work to do there. However, she recommends asking the landlord if they are willing to paint if you hate the color. “I’ve had 50/50 luck with that – usually the big places are less likely to agree, but it’s worth a shot.”

What Maggie loved about their new home was the large open layout of the kitchen, dining, and living room areas. It gave them flexibility for furniture placement, where in the end she chose to float the sofa in the middle of the space. “The room feels so open, my son runs figure eights around the sofa and kitchen island, and I can see him from almost any vantage point in the room,” she said. Because their sofa and bookshelves are a little on the dark side, she chose light creams and neutrals to lighten up the space. One of her favorite new purchases was their vintage chair that was reupholstered in a pretty Zak + Fox fabric by Chairloom. “I think upholstery is a great place to splurge (whether it’s new or reupholstering a vintage piece) because comfort is the most important thing,” she explained.

Other tips she offers us renters is to go ahead with hanging artwork and drapes. One of her greatest budget-friendly, yet impactful pieces is an oversized print of a family vacation photo. “I got the largest frame I could find during a sale at a frame shop, and enlarged one of my own vacation photos to go in it. I think the print was only about $50!” In the end, putting up art and filling up the wall space with drapes makes a rental feel cozy. “I just patch the holes when we move out – usually they repaint anyway.”