How do you make a furnished rental feel like home?

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What happens when fully furnished is lovely… but it's just not YOU?
What happens when fully furnished is lovely… but it’s just not YOU?
I lucked into a nursing job that provides free furnished housing. And while it’s definitely nice having free housing and not having to buy my own furniture (or schlep it from Kentucky to Florida!), I don’t feel at home here.

It’s definitely a “beachy” vibe, but I feel like I’m in a hotel. How can I make my furnished rental my own?

It is completely furnished, but I do have the ability to move furniture around if I need to, or take down pictures on the wall. Help! -Melanie

First you should totally check out our “no damage decor” archive — perfect for decorating rental spaces. Maybe the statement piece fabric headboard can do doubly duty by covering up wall art that’s not-so-much your style? Or check out this roundup of ephemeral walls to get more decorating inspiration.

Now to the Homies: How would you personalize a furnished rental?

Comments on How do you make a furnished rental feel like home?

  1. Well, I know what I would do if it was me. I hate beaches. I would take down the artwork and hide it somewhere, along with anything else “beachy.” If I didn’t like the extra stuff like the blankets or pillows, I would hide them too and buy stuff that was more me. You can always donate it when you move if you don’t want to take it with you. I probably wouldn’t decorate much because I’m not fond of it, but I would put up blackout curtains. I’m an overnighter, and if your schedule is erratic, blackout curtains would be a good idea. Use incense or a diffuser to make it smell like home. That will help a lot.

  2. That does sound like a challenge! I’ve never lived in a fully furnished space (my dorm room was the closest I’ve ever come), but here goes anyway.

    Since none of the “stuff” in a fully furnished apartment is going to be yours (or even necessarily stuff you would choose), I think the key to making it say “you” will be to cover it up, and make it look like it *could* be yours. How elaborate you want to get with this is going to depend on your budget, how long you’ll be in the same place, and what your skills (and tastes) are. For instance, if you like to sew and will be there for a while, you could make slipcovers for the couch(es) and squishy chairs (if any) — shorter-term or not-so-much into sewing, you could simply throw a nice blanket over the back and seat (although they do tend to move around and need to be straightened regularly). You could put tablecloths on the coffee tables, hang fabric art over the pictures, put up your own curtains. Fabric is relatively inexpensive in general, fairly easy to repurpose if/when you move, and easy to pack if you’re moving at all frequently. Good luck!

    • Second all of this, and just had to add pillow cases/ pillow shams.

      That way you don’t have to use storage space to store extra pillows- just cover them up!

  3. Take down the art and decor pieces and stick them under the bed or in a closet (take pictures – so you know where it all went when you leave!)

    I think adding your own accent pieces is what really gives the space it’s flavour. Hang a few personal photos of family and friends, buy bedding that is more *you*, cushions for the couch in your style. The large pieces seem pretty neutral, just change the accents and you feel much better i am sure.

  4. I’ve been living in fully furnished apartments for the last few months. Since I plan on moving internationally soon, I didn’t want to buy a lot of “stuff” that I would have to move. My suggestions for making these places feel like home is bring your favorite mug, get a comfortable blanket to wrap up in, and get a plant. These items say “comfort” and “home” to me, and can make any place feel a little more like mine.

  5. I lived in a furnished apartment once. The first thing I did was to take all their supplied dishes, etc. and box them up into the closet as I had brought my own (superior) dishware pots, etc.

    I also boxed up their provided bedding and used my own.

    Then, for me a house isn’t really a home until you get some afghans strewn all over the place! My mom and I love to knit, and I personally own 5 afghans, three of which I made, so those really help me feel more at home.

    Finally, try and change the artwork if it looks really not you. I’m still in the portion of my life where I can just get away with hanging posters that aren’t in frames, so that’s what I did when I moved in. The really awful 1980’s hotel print was taken down and I put up my firefly/serenity posters. You could also do posters, but frame them if you want a bit more class.

    • A comfy bed with the sheets and pillows and comforter all just the way I like them is the center of “home” for me. If I lived in a furnished apartment with provided bedding I’d probably box it up and replace it with my own before I even unpacked anything else.

  6. I’ve lived in a couple fully furnished apartments (yay, National Park Service), and absolutely feel free to take down art you don’t like, or move the furniture around (I second the take pictures so you remember where it goes). I picked up a free bookcase and put it where an old CRT tv was (the tv went in the closet), and I gave away the bookcase when I moved.

    Consider going out and exploring where you live now, and bringing home a small memento, so it doesn’t feel like all your life story is in another state with your stuff.

  7. We lived in a furnished apartment during an international move, and I agree with lots of the suggestions above. Take down all the art and replace it with your stuff, and the same with the random decor pieces. Make sure you bring plenty of personal items — mementos, photos, that piggy bank you’ve had since you were three — to put your mark on an otherwise bland space. Switch out the shower curtain and towels. If you’re picky about kitchenware, box it up and find your own (or just do it with one piece, like glasses).

    For the linens, check your rental policy. In our case, the linens (pillows, sheets, duvets, duvet covers) were ours to keep even after our rental finished, because they didn’t want to deal with cleaning them again. If it’s the same for you, you can donate what you don’t like and replace the rest. Our rental had the ugliest duvet cover I’ve ever seen, and if we’d been there more than six weeks, it would have been the first thing I would have replaced! If not, cover them up and box up the linens you don’t like.

  8. If the artwork is in frames, maybe you could put your own poster or a fabric you like between the original and the frame. That way you get a free frame (you know, as long as it’s not hideous) and you don’t have one more thing to store.
    Or, if it’s unframed canvas, wrap it tightly in a fabric you like and secure at the back with stitches or staples (avoiding the original, of course).

  9. Overhere basically all rental come furnished, so that’s everywhere I’ve ever lived aside form my parents house!
    My no. 1 tip would be personal photos. I bring a load of them with me in a envelope whenever I move and just bluetack them up all over the place. And if it wasn’t for the fact I usually sharre the common areas, I’d stick some in frames out there too.
    Throws are the best, as are table-cloths and cushions. Just get cheap ones or have someone ship some of yours from home and use them to cover everything ugly. Little floor rugs are great too.
    Also handmade or sentimental items are great. I have a little book a friend made for my birthday that comes everywhere, along with a toy sloth I made myself. And I love tea so I always have one special mug, and often a bowl too. A girl I lived with last year used to stack books everywhere…just as decoration, I quite liked that to.
    Aside from that I’m with everyone else: hide the artwork (if it’s not nailed in).

  10. I’m in the same situation as the above poster, almost all rentals come fully furnished where I live.
    What I did was to remove any art/items that I could break (I wanted to ensure I got my deposit back) and moved them to under the stairs/ other storage space.
    I used the nails in the walls to hang my own photo’s and art. I used rugs, blankets and cushions to make the space feel more me!
    I really love little sentimental items so I used any available space to display these.
    I found that potted plants and my own plates/cutlery/glassware really made the place feel like I LIVED there rather than I STAYED there.

  11. I also worked as a travel nurse (I assume that’s your current job), so had three different fully furnished apartments in two cities in the year that I worked for the company. I moved across country to do this so took only what would fit in my car, along with my dog and chinchilla. I hung my own shower curtain and used my own bedding. I also brought enough dishes for two people to eat (seemed fair to assume I could make at least one friend) and had a few framed photos of family and friends. Beyond that, I never decorated for two reasons. (1) Typically, you’re only there for 8-12 weeks and I used every moment of spare time to see where I was living so the aesthetics of my apartment were less important. (2) I took the job to make money to go to grad school so spending anything on decorations wasn’t in the budget (nevermind the money I spent at local microbreweries).

    I recognize this may not answer your question, but might provide a different point of view. Enjoy your (hopefully) awesome job!

  12. One thing I would do is make the place SMELL like home. This might not be as important to other people as it is to me, though. I have a very sensitive nose and strong or unfamiliar smells bother me a lot while familiar smells are comforting. To do this I would:

    Get rid of any air fresheners scented candles, soaps etc. that came with the place (Through them out, if acceptable, if not, seal them in plastic bags and stash them somewhere). Then either replace them with your own, if you like that sort of thing or open up the doors and windows to get rid of the smell.

    Gather up any clothe things that are washable and wash them in your own laundry detergent.

    Use familiar cleaning products that you like the smell of (or the lack of smell of).

    Bring in things that smell like home: foods, plants, leather, wood, your significant other’s warn t-shirts, spray your favorite perfume around. Whatever smells make you feel relaxed and at home.

  13. Home sweet home. If we go to a place, as comfortable as our home is what we are looking for. My trick to feel like at home is by taking my own furniture.

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