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4 Ways to Make A Rental Feel Like Home

There are a few simple things you can do to make your rental feel like home and love where you live.

This post has been sponsored by The Duck Brand. All opinions are my own.

After living in 7 rentals over the past 15 years, I've learned some great tips for making an apartment or rental house feel like home quickly.

My husband and I have lived in seven different rental homes or apartments since we've been married. From a tiny apartment in Hollywood to a duplex by the sea to a four-bedroom 1960's home in Texas, our rentals have been diverse. But regardless of the type, condition or location of each new place, it takes a little while for it to feel like "home."

There's no getting around the fact that any new home will take some getting used to, and those those first few weeks are tough. It feels awkward cooking in a new kitchen, showering in a new shower, and navigating all sorts of new cabinets and drawers. Over the years, I've learned some tips that have made our rentals feel like home sooner rather than later. That's what I'm sharing with y'all today.

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4 Ways to Quickly Make a Rental Feel Like Home:

1) Get unpacked as fast as you can.

Most of the time, I'm an advocate for slowing down, but not when it comes to moving into a new home. I'm not saying that you should stay up for 48 straight hours to unpack, but you should definitely try to get your items out of boxes and into cabinets, closets, and drawers as quickly as you can.

I was SO tired of packing and unpacking boxes!

Waking up to a bunch of boxes every morning and having to dig through them for what you need, is not going to make you feel at home. You can always reorganize closets and cabinets later on after you're fully unpacked, but the quickest way to feel more relaxed in your new rental is to get those boxes out of there and get things put away.

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2) Decorate the walls ASAP.

While we were living in Phoenix, AZ, we rented a nice, newer home with plenty of room for the kids to run around in. As pretty as that house was, however, there was nothing that made it look like "our" home. I hesitated to put up art or photos because it would just be ONE MORE THING we'd have to take down when we moved again.

Well, we ended up staying in that home for three years, and when I look back at photos of our time in that house, I really regret not making it a little homier.

Granted, one major factor was that I had two kids under three years old at the time, so I was basically just trying to make it through each day with my sanity intact. Still, when I look at photos of that house, it just looks so "blah."

If I'd spent even one day tossing some things onto the walls — even if it was just the girls' framed artwork — it would have made it feel a lot more welcoming, and I would have felt more at home within those walls. Now, whenever we move into a new place, decorating is one of the first things I do.


In our current home, I put up this little gallery wall before we even had groceries in the fridge. Having that little bit of personality in our entrance made me feel better about the new digs. It made all of the unboxing and errands feel more tolerable when I had something pretty and personalized to look at as soon as I walked in the door.

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3) Make some inexpensive swaps and updates.

Nobody wants to sink a lot of money into improving/fixing up a rental home because you won't see any return on your investment. But spending a little bit of money on some simple updates will make you a lot more content in your new place. Here are some inexpensive things you might consider replacing or updating when you move in:

  • paint (check your lease—for less work, you can do an accent wall and paint it back if your lease allows)
  • toilet seats & lids (how about a warming toilet seat, or a soft-close seat? You can always take it with you when you move!)
  • light fixtures
  • light bulbs (update to LEDs and choose a tone you like—you can always swap them out and take them with you)
  • shower heads (add some water pressure)
  • outlet covers
  • cabinet knobs & drawer pulls
  • towel bars

Obviously you'll have to check with your landlord first to make sure these updates are allowed. But even the smallest updates can make a big difference in the overall feel of a room and make it feel more like your home.

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4) Line your shelves and cabinets.

This is one of my top suggestions, especially if you're moving into an older apartment or home. Like I mentioned earlier, our current home was built in the 1960's. There are plenty of charming features about the house, like our built-in wall-to-wall shelves and brick fireplace.

Then there are the less charming features, like the old kitchen drawers and cabinets. Let's just call them "well loved." :)


Thankfully, making the cabinets and drawers in our home feel clean and new was one of the easiest things to do.


I lined all of our drawers and cabinets with Easy Liner® with Clorox® by Duck® shelf liners. These liners include Clorox® antimicrobial protection to prevent the growth of odor-causing mold and mildew, and given the humid environment in Houston, that is KEY.

It only took me a short time to line tons of shelves and drawers throughout the house. All I had to do was measure the space I wanted to cover, cut the liner to fit, and lay it in. It has a grippy surface that stays in place without any adhesive. 


Isn't that SO much better?

You can use the liners virtually anywhere in the house, but I focused on areas where moisture can accrue, like my pantry, cabinets where we store glassware or dishes...


...and under the sink where I keep sponges and cleaning supplies. The antimicrobial additive is embedded into the shelf liner material, so it remains active as long as the product is in use – even after washing.

Even if you're buying a home instead of renting, these tips can help you get settled faster. Getting comfortable in a new space won't happen overnight, but I'm hoping that the things I've learned from so many years of renting can help others!

I'd love to hear from you in the comments. Are there any other frequent movers out there? What do you think is the hardest part about making a rental feel like home?

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G. Anderson

Tuesday 31st of August 2021

Hi, I’ve loved this.Wished I read this sooner. I don’t have enough space for my/our things. Need suggestions on how to organise with everyday things. Lockdown is hard and finances stretched. Any ideas on how to make a rental homely is so helpful. My children keep saying they feel Like they’re at a hotel for a bit when they stay with me every second week.

linda anderson

Monday 27th of January 2020

I just moved to a bigger apartement in the bachelor I had not room to pack and store boxes so was done on the fly what a mess not organized enough and helpers just put things everywhere it is aweful but at least I got help will take me at least 2 weeks to settle

Millie Hue

Tuesday 27th of November 2018

Thanks for pointing out that hanging photos or arts on the walls will make the rental property feel like home. I will definitely follow your advice since I will be renting an apartment next year to be closer to work. I just need to live near the office because I have been getting late a lot due to heavy traffic. This will make me live comfortably while being alone and away from my family.


Wednesday 1st of August 2018

Good tips. I wanted to point out, however, that you don't need to see the inexpensive updates as a sunken cost because many of these things can easily be swapped back out with the originals when you move again. You can take them with you to your new place. I have done this with the thermostat and other fixtures like showerheads.

Brenda McDearmon

Friday 17th of June 2016

This is a great post, Alyssa. We are about to embark on a new chapter of our journey by moving from our current rental to a downtown apartment. It's a little bit of a "bucket list" thing for us to do, and we hope to stay there for a few years... but will be expensive, so maybe not. In any event, we want it to feel homey in a hurry. Methinks for these tips and motivation!


Monday 20th of June 2016

I'm so glad you found it helpful! I hope your move goes smoothly. :)

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