5 Tips to Rent Like You Own

Orange reading chair

Hello! I’m Danielle and I’m a serial renter. I’ve rented four apartments in seven years, only to move again this spring. While many people see homeownership as both a financial milestone and personal rite-of-passage, I am philosophically linked to the many millennials that reject homeownership. In fact, a segment millennials forgo ownership completely, from cars to clothes to technology. Just check out this infographic from Goldman Sachs to see what I mean. The causes are as various as the people making the choice to perpetually rent. Many can’t afford a home. Others are pursing careers and don’t want to be tied down. Whatever the reasons, there are many people who want to buy a house and simply can’t.

Initially, I saw homeownership as a hallmark of stability. After graduating from college, I worked hard to pay off my student debt and first vehicle. Working through the #adulting checklist, I planned to collect a down payment for a house next. Although it took longer than expected (life happens), I did pull together the funds. My husband and I got pre-approved for a mortgage. We visited a few open houses. But, we never took the next step. Each time we’ve selected to rent over buy, it has been the best choice for us.

That said, renting grates everyone’s nerves at times. The plentiful drawbacks leave many renters wishing they could own.

#AllTheReasons

Home lust – it trips all of us apartment dwellers from time to time. It manifests as a feeling of comparison or a subtle discontentment. Below is a list of reasons you may (mistakenly) hate your apartment with their rebuttals.

1. It’s too small: People tend to expand and outgrow the space available. The trick to enjoying a small space is living with less stuff. It won’t feel small when there is a place for everything. Look through your extra stuff and decide if you want it more than the open and airy feeling.

2. It’s temporary: This mental obstruction keeps a lot of people from enjoying their apartment. They feel like it’s not a “forever home.” Therefore the effort to decorate it seems to be wasted. However, I find a freshness comes from moving around. It makes you really consider filling your home with things you like and will take with you, instead of just buying stuff to fill your current space.

3. It’s up stairs without a yard: While I love a yard, not having one doesn’t mean you’re sacrificing all the green. Ideas for porch and indoor gardens are becoming more mainstream.

4. It’s not custom: Just because you don’t have built-in shelving or a pallet accent wall doesn’t mean you can’t make your space reflect your personality. There are a lot of great temporary ideas to decorate apartments without losing your deposit. Personally, I like to line walls with shelves to create a little gallery.

5. It’s cheap-looking: I’ll admit that I’m not fond of the builder-grade fixtures or the white carpet. However, fixating on it doesn’t make it go away. Instead, I find ways to shift the focus away from the cheap elements and move it to the parts I like. For example, I center furniture around the windows as the focus point. This draws my eye to the view instead of the floor.

Fall in Love Again

Quote from Jane Eyre by Charlotte BronteIn general, I believe that dissatisfaction with temporary situations like renting is the idea that you can’t take ownership of the space. Although there are rules, the environment is yours month-by-month or year-by-year. Besides those four walls, everything inside the home and the decisions about how you use it are yours.

Therefore, I find that the more that I care for my apartment, the more I fall in love with it. Cleaning the windows, wiping the counters and cleaning off scuff marks is not a waste. It’s the gift to myself right now because I live there. Below are ways that I make my rental feel like home.

1. Borrow furniture that works “right now”. When a living situation is temporary, it’s not wise to buy a lot of furniture just for the space. However, many people own more furniture than they are currently using. Ask around to see if someone has an item that will work for your space. If you don’t want to buy a small table, borrow one from a friend.

2. Use art that you like. Although the best design takes the dwelling into consideration, you don’t need to decorate around a temporary living situation. If you have art that you like, hang it up- even if it isn’t in the same style as your abode. You’ll enjoy seeing something that you find beautiful.

3. Store whatever doesn’t fit. Temporary situations are more frustrating if you are tripping over misplaced objects. Consider putting extra decor and furniture aside if it doesn’t have a home in your space. This will make you feel more at peace and settled.

4. Build memories in the space. Plan something fun and take pictures of yourself in the space. It won’t feel temporary if you make it into a home. Creating memories while you are living there will mark the apartment as your home for a season of life.

5. Write a list of what you do like. Maybe the small space is easy to keep clean. Perhaps you get good sunlight through your bedroom window. Find the features that you enjoy and elevate them to celebrate them.

Homeownership may not be one of your milestones, now or ever. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t feel at home in your rental. In fact, you may find (like me) an inspiring freedom in leasing a space. Mentally and emotionally, I’ve truly started to enjoy making little temporary homes.

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Homeworthiness

Each object should deserve space it occupies in your dwelling. That’s a lofty goal, especially for those who embrace a minimalist lifestyle.

Everything in this collection is homeworthy.

This sets the standard for everything in my collection. Through careful and conscious craftsmanship, I offer art, furniture, and accessories in the greater Lynchburg, Virginia area. Everything you’ll find is a result of my desire to consume less and make more.

Home design

But you may be asking, where this goal comes from and why I came to pursue it.

I care about what comes into my home, and I’m sure you do too.

My journey in making actually started as a change in my consumer habits. For my first apartment, I mixed vintage, hand-me-down pieces with any cheap homegoods I could find on sale. I quickly noticed that the pressboard, cardboard, and temporary pieces looked cheaper with age. However, handmade goods, just looked better with time.

I learned to appreciate hand-made, and often, slow-made things.

So, I completely changed the way I consumed. I sought out older, better pieces to fill my home. I looked for real art from local artists to adorn my space. I learned to appreciate hand-made, and often, slow-made things.

But there were still a few gaps, a lot of room for creativity. So, I’ve started a collection of homegoods and accessories inspired by thoughtful consumption.

5 Reasons You (Mistakenly) Hate Your Apartment

cool coffee table

Four apartments in ten years have hosted my life and belongings. In each, I have experienced seasons of both comfort and frustration. Throughout my nomadic renting, I learned to focus on making the space work for my lifestyle and adjusting my lifestyle to the space. With this balance, a temporary living situation becomes a freeing and empowering experience.

My First Place

Do you ever get angry about something because you know a situation your fault? My first apartment revealed my gaps in life management. Everything was a mess, perpetuating my stress and discomfort. I couldn’t afford the necessary organizational items to corral my belongings, more so the large pieces of furniture like desks, dressers, and bookshelves. As I started to dumpster dive for furniture, I noticed an overwhelming imbalance of tiny junk and useful places to store it. Knick knacks, clothes, textbooks, and random gadgets littered all of my surfaces. However, I really needed a couch, some dishtowels, and a filing cabinet. Eventually, I piled everything into cardboard boxes by item type and started googling.

Frustratingly, most home keeping advice is focused on houses and families. I didn’t need to organize children’s toys in a playroom or create a bin system for Christmas decorations. I needed a plan to take the piles of stuff from college and childhood and make my apartment function for my single, working life. Projects quickly became clear as I began outlining my problems:

  • Furniture arrangement for sleeping, working, and entertaining
  • Clothing cycle that can be maintained
  • Meal plan and regular grocery list
  • Organization for existing belongings
  • Filing for paperwork and a process for paying bills

Although I thought I functioned well in college, my adult life needed much more management. That meant taking ownership of my space and making my apartment work for me.

#AllTheReasons

Home lust – it trips all apartment dwellers from time to time. The resentment stems from a feeling of comparison and manifests as a subtle discontentment. However, renting makes sense for a lot of people. Below is a list of reasons you may mistakenly hate your apartment.

1. It’s too small: People tend to expand and outgrow the space available. The trick to enjoying a small space is living with less stuff. It won’t feel small when there is a place for everything. Look through your extra stuff and decide if you want it more than the open and airy feeling. Then, make a plan to control how much you consume in the future.

2. It’s temporary: This mental obstruction keeps a lot of people from enjoying their apartment. They feel like it’s not a “forever home.” Therefore the effort to decorate it seems to be wasted. However, I find a freshness comes from moving around. It makes you really consider filling your home with things you like and will take with you instead of just buying stuff to fill your current space.

3. It’s up stairs or without a yard: While I love a yard, not having one doesn’t mean you’re sacrificing all the green. Ideas for porch and indoor gardens are becoming more mainstream. Also, you can spend more time outside because you have less space to maintain. Focus on the parks and green spaces around your apartment. Make those a part of your routine.

4. It’s not custom: Just because you don’t have built-in shelving or a pallet accent wall doesn’t mean you can’t make your space reflect your personality. There are a lot of great temporary ideas to decorate apartments without losing your deposit. Personally, I like to line walls with molding to create a little leaning gallery.

5. It’s cheap and ugly: I’ll admit that I’m not fond of the builder-grade fixtures or the white carpet. However, fixating on it doesn’t make it go away. Instead, I find ways to shift the focus away from the unsightly elements and move it to the parts I like. For example, I usually center furniture around the windows as the focus point. This draws my eye to the 3rd story view instead of the floor.

53b2729d15a7e0a9287e0a3041d56aa3Love Your Space

This month, I’m moving again and my new space is actually smaller than my last two apartments. Instead, I chose this spot based off of location because I wanted walking access to certain amenities. As I’ve begun packing my belongings, I am reminded of how much my consumption habits have changed. I keep clutter to a minimum by limiting my possessions to the amount of space I have.

The process requires a total understanding of my priorities. For many people, it will require deep research if you didn’t grow up functioning in a rental situation. I needed to consider my most basic needs and focus my living situation on what I could control. Then, I prioritized the space around that.

You will find yourself challenging norms and slowly shifting your habits. With time, you may even find that you no longer own items that were previously a standard part of your routine. Also, you will remember that as seasons of life change, so do your needs. A mindful evaluation of your stuff and your space will help you maintain an apartment that works well for you.

 

 

An Intentional Day Keeps the Clutter Away

I don’t have salt and pepper shakers. This is a shock to most people. First, they must process my presumption that I have properly seasoned your food. Then, there they consier my audacity in skipping over this mainstay of culinary tools. Why no shakers? Simply put, I haven’t found the right ones yet.

Quote from THe Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis StevensonQuestion Everything

As Tyler Durden in Fight Club explains, “You are not your job, you’re not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You are not your —– khakis.” Similarly, I started a journey several years ago to question what I own and what “owns me.” So, I refuse to bring something into my home that I don’t love or need. This is one of the quirks of careful consumption, which permeates my home. In our consumerist society, I find that waiting to get the right object is considered a little bizarre. Below are some quirks of this process.

You won’t settle for “just now”. This means you refuse to bring something into your home when you feel it doesn’t belong. For example, I’m using my kitchen chairs as part-time desk chairs. I’m not sure I truly need a desk chair or that I’ll keep my current desk. So, I’m making do with double-duty furniture.

You are willing to borrow for the short term. I know this seems cheap but, I will borrow or rent things before I buy them. Trying them out to see if they work in my life is the best way to make the decision. This really helps with tools for new hobbies or furniture in a temporary space. More than once I have assumed that I was going to need tools or supplies that I never used.

You do a lot of research — online and in person. You probably think about a purchase for months before it actually ends up in your home. You ask a lot of questions, especially for current users of the product. And when you are finally sure, you buy it.

In the meantime, your life will seem a little odd — missing a few normal pieces. But, it’s a refreshing habit in our consumer culture to be a little more deliberate about purchases.

Questions to Ask

If you’re interested in a lifestyle focused on careful consumption, you will find yourself questioning every purchase. This is a journey that I started as a young adult and it is starting to shape both my consumption and creation. Below are some of the questions I use during the buying process.

Is it in my budget? If it’s not in the budget, you probably shouldn’t buy it. Obviously, you have to start by having a budget. Then, you need to get your spending on track with the budget. This helps with impulse buys that you may regret later.

Can I borrow it? This works well for tools, instruments, and large items. Often, family and friends have stuff in storage that they prefer to see used. I’ve even had people loan me art or furniture because they would prefer someone enjoy it. As long as you’re responsible, borrowing is a good way to figure out whether you want to own one for yourself.

Can I get it secondhand? Careful consumers look for ways to use items that have already been produced. This lowers the overall amount of waste in our society. If you can save something from a landfill, that is a win. Figure out if the item is something that you can get used.

Do I already have one? While it may sound obvious, many shoppers repeatedly buy items because they lose them. It’s a common problem with clutter. To avoid this issue, make sure you organize and declutter your home before shopping again.

How long will I keep it? This question speaks to the durability and sustainability of the product. For non-consumable purchases, try to buy items that you intend to keep for a while. For consumables, give some thought to how you will dispose of wrapping and waste.

Where is it made? There are several questions related to this can help with ethical consumerism. This question  forces you to acknowledge the origin of the item and understand how it came into existence.

If you’re starting to think more carefully about what comes into your home, then you will find yourself asking the questions above.

Tips and Tricks

With each new month is a chance to save a little cash and look at ways to declutter our lives – like with the 30-Day Minimalism Game. After a month of conservative financial choices, most people are a burned out on frugality. So, below is a list of ways I try to feel richer without spending money.

1. Go to the library: This is one of those tired tips from frugal people that no one seems to use. Our local library is often very empty. If you feel a little deprived in the spending area, get some new media from the library. The new stories will make your world feel a little bit richer.

My tip: Start with a book of quotes. These small ideas can be digested quickly and inspire a new tone for the day.

2. Propagate a plant: Not only is it cheap, propagating a plant allows you to duplicate your possessions. The extra sprout can move to your office or make a nice future gift. Also, the process of researching and growing a new plant feels rewarding.

My tip: Work with a green-thumbed friend on this little project. They can help you make sure you maintain both plant’s health.

3. Rotate your stuff: Pack some stuff away for a few months. Whether you choose clothing, accessories, or home decor, a little free space feels good. Then, switch the items out every few months. It will make things feel fresh, like you’re shopping in your own home.

My tip: Set a personal limit on how much you’re willing to store. For example, I have limited home decor to 4 bins total, 3 for Christmas decorations and 1 for other decor. This means I have to get rid of something before I bring in a new decoration.

4. Use those supplies: Almost everyone has random leftovers from hobbies lying around their house. Pull them together and start looking for ways to use them. If they’re cooking ingredients, find a few recipes to use them. If they’re crafting supplies, create something new with them. Not only will you free up some space but, you might get something new through the creative process.

My tip: Mark Montano’s blog gives a lot of ideas for supplies that most people are trying to use up. He posts frequently so, keep your eyes on his site.

To summarize, holding back the clutter in your life starts with an intentional thought process. Each day, you will find yourself choosing between chaotic clutter and calming free space. Whether you are a creative person, Type A or super busy, you will benefit from this shift toward anti-consumerist thinking. I’d like to know, how do you get control of your environment?

How to Shrink a Collection

While most collectors talk about growing a collection, minimalists look for ways to shrink their belongings. Below are some tips on how to decide which trinkets stay as a part of your beloved collection.

As a child, I acquired a small collection of lighthouses. Most were gifts, although some were souvenirs. Although I enjoy the whimsical structures, I really only display them in the warm months. It reminds me of the beach and family vacations. As an adult, I looked over the variety of pieces and picked my three favorite lighthouses. They are all sentimental and suit my taste. The first is from my paternal grandmother and made of wood. I always dreamed of going to see it at the Outer Banks and was finally able as an adult. The second was painted by my paternal grandfather on a piece of driftwood. It’s signed and special. The third is a bank that my grandmother customized. It’s ceramic and reminds me of love.

Although I started with over a dozen light-house themed trinkets, these are the ones that made the cut. Below are some tips to help you shrink a collection.

1. They’re sentimental.

I had a few pieces that I didn’t remember getting. Since I didn’t have an attachment to them, they were really just taking up space. Consider this when you go through your own collection. Do you remember when and where you got each piece? Do you recall who gave it to you? If you don’t have a story for the trinket, it’s not sentimental.

2. They’re visually pleasing to me.

Several of the lighthouses I disposed were ugly to me. They just didn’t suit my taste. They may have been gifts but, I didn’t like them. Someone else will probably enjoy them more so, I passed them on. When you’re going through your collection, look at each piece individually. Do you find them all pleasing? Don’t simply keep them to make your collection look huge. Keep the ones that you find attractive.

3. They fit in my home.

These lighthouses are the right size for a shelf accessory. Others were very large or very small. Still others were plastic, glittery, or derivative. These three look right in my home and I can imagine incorporating them into future living spaces. When you’re going through your collection, consider whether each piece fits with your home. If you don’t have a space to display a huge collection, consider shrinking it. If you don’t like dusting, pick which pieces are easiest to clean.

These tips can help you little-by-little shrink a collection down to the few perfect pieces. A small, special collection will bring you more joy than a large, cluttered collection of meaningless trinkets.

Have you ever cut down one of your collections?