Tuesday, 1 January 2013

The Rundown Rental- Reasonable Redecoration Recommendations

We moved to Israel on a whim. Well, not a whim, exactly. It was more like a four year aliyah plan that turned, over night, into four weeks. We set off with no kollel (for him), no job prospects (for me), and nowhere to live (for either of us). A wonderful family member offered us her vacant machsan apartment for exactly 2 weeks, until the new tenants were to arrive.

I set out sprightly each morning, armed with my Yisa Bracha listings, and returned each evening with a heavy heart, quickly becoming aware of the alarming reality - there were no apartments in Ramat Eshkol to be had. 

Two weeks became one, seven days became 3, and in the ninth hour (or dare I say the hundredth?), The One Who Can Do Anything, did. 

With boundless joy, we gathered all of our worldly possessions and moved into our tiny, grungy, old, run down, tastelessly decorated, rental.  I don't think there existed a happier couple in all of Ramat Eshkol. 

Thankful, unquestionably, but also a little overwhelmed by the task of turning this less-than-attractive space (I'm being very generous) into a happy, comfortable, livable home. 

Here are a few ideas that I wish I'd known back then:

  • Camouflage unattractive flooring by adding an extra large area rug and bright accents.
  • Think ahead. Use modular furniture, Ivar shelves from IKEA or Cubitec by Doron Lachish, so that you can accommodate a different space when you move to your next home.
  • Your rental apartment may come with some unique colors choices (the back splash in our kitchen was fire-engine red.) Don't fight it! Create a pulled together look by incorporating the color in accents like dish towels, artwork, or a piece of furniture.
  • Good lighting can completely transform a room and it's source doesn't have to be a hardwired ceiling fixture. Use plug-in floor lamps, scones, or under-cabinet lighting in the kitchen to brighten up a room and open up dark corners.
  • You can make bookshelves seem built-in by flanking them on either side of a room entrance or window. You can even add moldings or trimmings to increase the affect. 
  • Invest in inexpensive renovations. Even if the apartment isn't yours, you'll probably live there long enough to benefit from improvements that minimal renovations can offer.
                 -A coat of paint can instantly change the mood of a room.
                 -Change your hardware. Many apartments have plain cabinet pulls that are old                             and boring. You don't have to live with them. Replace them with  something personal and interesting. You can always reinstall the old ones before you leave (and bring yours with you).
                 -Light fixtures can easily be switched and are a quick way to personalize a space. 

  • Furniture in a rental is often a hodgepodge of pieces that you or your landlord picked up. It doesn't always look nice and it doesn't always match. Unify the  motley bunch with slipcovers for your chairs and couches.
There is no official formula for making a rental apartment attractive and more fun to be in. Take a critical look at your space, identify your needs, and shake it up. Don't hesitate to make changes like moving furniture around or replacing blinds. A little effort and creativity can make a meaningful difference. 
(And if you aren't exahusted once you've completed your redecorating efforts, just say the title of this post 5 times fast.)

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