Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Making Changes to Your "Not-Forever" Home

Last week, a post on Apartment Therapy got me thinking about those of us making "home" in a temporary, rented, or decidedly "not forever" place. This apartment is not our "forever home" but it is nonetheless a space that reflects who Adam and I are at this phase in our life. We rent, which means that we are not renovating or setting out on any projects that make permanent changes to this place, even if I may want to. 

The Apartment Therapy post came about after a reader, Vickie, solicited advice on what changes to prioritize in her first home, which she just rented. She toyed with the idea of painting, purchasing a new sofa, and swapping out fixtures in the apartment. She pondered, "My main question is: where do I draw the line with home improvement?" Like Vickie, I often wonder that, too. 

Currently in my fall project queue, there are several projects that involve permanent changes to our apartment, though subtle. Here are a few examples from my list:
  • Build floating shelves in the "nook" of the den
  • Repaint bathroom (same as current paint, just a fresh coat)
  • Change towel bar in the bathroom
  • Recaulk around granite backsplash in the bathroom
So as you can see, these are permanent changes but not highly 'taste-specific'. The question is: do I spend my time and money on these things that inevitable stay behind when we eventually leave, or do I go ahead and make these small changes knowing full well that this is only a temporary, a "not forever" home for us?

Readers, please tell me, what types of changes have you made to your "not forever" spaces? 
If you rent, where do you draw the line with improvements?


  1. I've thought about this a bit too, having rented my entire adult life. I have gone the route of investing in things that will go with me when I move (furniture, art, rugs) and really not doing much of anything with light fixtures, paint or shelving. I've been lucky to have avoided things like a truly hideous bathroom or kitchen - rental nightmares!

  2. I am right there with you! I think it all depends about how long you will be in your "not forever" home. If you are planning on staying there less than a year I would say don't do the changes.

  3. ooh, this is good. I guess it depends how long you will be there. For us we are currently not in our forever home, but have done a lot of work to it since it has been our home for over 4 years now. It is slightly different though since we do own the home, but in the end when we sell we will actually loose money. Thank you housing market. I guess for me if I would prioritize money and time with how long you all are going to stay there. It is quite charming.

  4. i only do a make improvements if it is already looking so bad like when the old paint chips off or when there are stains that i can't get rid off on a place where people can obviously see them.

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  5. Great question! I'm there with you. Such a good question. I've started to think these things are worth the time and investment if it makes any place feel more like home. :)

  6. We've more than once bought or built furniture that fits perfectly somewhere we don't live anymore. The more times I move, the less I do that.

  7. I try to stick to things that will move with us, but there are exceptions--we just moved into a house with a kitchen that did not have a cabinet for putting pots and pans. (87 small drawers, but no wide deep cabinets.) I cleared it with the landlord first, and we ripped out the eat-in countertop, and bought the cheapest off-the-shelf cabinet at Home Depot. We reused the countertop. Normally I try to avoid making capital improvements to other people's property, but I just couldn't live with my pots on the floor for two years. I looked at other (moveable) options, but I couldn't put a freestanding cabinet in the space without ripping out the counter, and the landlord was not happy with us taking that out.

    I've also installed shelving on the walls, but I plan on taking them with me when we go, and patching the holes. I put in new blinds, since the previous tenant left behind utterly disgusting mini-blinds without any hardware and the ones that did have hardware fell on our heads every time we used them. But I kept the gross blinds in a box in the basement, and may take the pretty ones with me when we go.

    I think that you do what you like to make the house usable. It also depends on your budget and how long you are staying. Everything you've mentioned is fairly inexpensive but adds a lot of value to your living experience.


I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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