5 Ways You Can Make Your Rental Feel Like Home

Home sweet home … it’s the creative renter’s heartbeat. But what happens when your home isn’t home-y? How do you make your house feel like a home when it isn’t your dream home?

(Or in my case, when you live in an adorable but grungy rental where the landlord forgets to mow the lawn and you’re not allowed to paint?)

After living in three rentals over the last (almost) five years, I’ve learned a few tricks that have warmed and welcomed our hearts and bodies. In other words, let me show you a few ways you can turn that cold and ambiguous rental into a space you love. Because, we want to love the home we have — we want to be joyfully content in the space we’ve been given. 

Here are my 5 secrets to making your rental feel like home sweet home: 

Keep what you love — pass on what you don’t

This one can be so hard especially when you are a saver (hoarder?) like me! 😉 I’ve never struggled with keeping unused items until we had Uriah. Now, I have trouble tossing a stained onesie away! 

(Let’s all do ourselves a favor and vow to throw out the stained onesies!)

It can be challenging pairing down items because we think we’ll use them one day. But one day could be years from now and your family’s peace of mind needs space and lack of clutter in order to thrive.

Unless the items you are saving are truly treasures give yourself the freedom to say, “When one day comes I’ll replace this item. Until then, I’ll give it a good home.”

There are many ways to pass on items you don’t need. Post a Facebook ad, have a yard sale, or (if you’re busy like me) find your local Habitat for Humanity or Goodwill and pass on the items. (I especially like the first because they will pick up large items from your home! Woohoo!) 

A clean + organized home = love

This is probably the most important way to make your rental feel like a home you want to come home to. Our current home is a beautiful, charming 1940’s brick with adorable built-in china cabinets, a yellow insert oven, and a gorgeous mantle. 

But as beautiful as our home is, it was also equally dirty. Grime from prior tenants was caked in the metal pieces which separate rooms (what are those called?). My stove fan was covered in grease from others’ messy cooking. And the kitchen floor was literally discolored from improper mopping. 

Yuck. Yuck. Yuck. Yuck. 

It took me an embarrassingly long time to catch up on these projects. I hated (hate?) the idea of cleaning up someone else’s irresponsible messes. 

But the projects begged to be done and the difference once done is amazing! I try to keep the house clean but really getting into the grime really made a huge difference! Just keeping our bedroom free of clutter makes a world of difference! 

We have better things to do than cry over the “no paint” rule

I understand how frustrating a “no paint” rule can be — I’m currently living in a home which forbids me changing the colors and it used to drive me nuts! (Not to mention the giant cracks in paint!)

After a few creative meltdowns I started finding rental-friendly ways to brighten and fill my walls without breaking the contract. In our living room, I’ve created a gallery wall. And in other rooms I’ve put up baskets, instruments, and unique frames. Check out this link full of budget-friendly ways to make your walls beautiful! 

Breaking up with ugly fruit wallpaper 

Ugly wallpaper breaking your beauty-loving heart? Me too … our dining room was bordered in a hideous, dirty fruit pattern that matched nothing in our home. After a year and a half I got desperate and found contact paper cute enough to pass the test. $10 and 30 minutes later, I had brand new walls cute enough to stop me from gagging every time I looked into the dining area. 

(I know that sounds dramatic but here is a before and after as proof to the wallpaper’s hideousness. And my OCD).

I know this is a super cute picture of Uriah so peel your eyes away from his adorable grin and notice the ick behind him. 😉
That wallpaper haunted me for months until I found a cheap, temporary alternative — contact paper. 

Temporary, budget-friendly decor

I’m thinking all about colorful rugs, pillows, DIY window swags (I love my burlap!), and Ikea plants that bring joy into your space! 

For a long time I was against any large rugs in our living room … I tend to be a matchy matchy kid of girl and bold colors make me feel claustrophobic and overwhelmed. (I know … weird). 

But when I found this rug just perfect for Uriah and within my dream color scheme I had to take the jump. Since then, I’ve fallen in love with splashes of color and have bought complementary pillows. 

Add in a few budget-friendly Ikea plants and you have decor you could easily love for several years and then pack up when you move! p.s: when you do move read my 7 tips for making it less miserable! 😉

Tell me how you make your house a home? Do you have an budget-friendly, Pinterest pins you can share? Comment below — I’d love to hear your thoughts! 

Love, blessings, and coffee, 


How to Have Fun On a Vacationing Budget

Before I met and married Dalton I was a big spender.

I mean, I only made a whopping $5,000 a year but when my gas tank was full, college books purchased and I had an extra $15 bucks I forgot to save and blew my fortune on things like Dr. Pepper and Walmart flats.

Needless to say, my marrying my money-savvy Husband has been a big blessing.  

We decided long ago that we would not go in to debt — no matter the reason. So, we budget, plan and save. We have allotted amounts for everything: gas, groceries, utilities, tithe, rent, and “fun money.” Because we’ve made it a goal to stay within the budget we are able to plan for future adventures like babies, vacations and car purchases. And because my Smart Man plans ahead we’re able to enjoy the adventures without the fear of going over budget or into debt.

Recently, we went to Branson, Missouri on a three day excursion; it was a lot of fun especially since we went with D’s momma, sister and her family. We really had a great time! And without a doubt, one of the biggest blessings of the trip was knowing we could enjoy ourselves without worry since we had planned ahead and would make budget-friendly decisions throughout our stay.

Here are three tips we used to not break the bank while enjoying our vacation:

1. Book your hotel ahead of time and be okay not staying at the ritz

Originally, we planned to take this trip with a few more family members and at a different hotel. Plans changed and some decided they wouldn’t be able to make it. My mother-in-love looked into the current hotel booked … at least $400 for three days just for D and I. Whew!

She and I agreed to look around for other budget-friendly options and soon I found a $40 a night hotel (with breakfast provided!) right next to Branson’s busiest street. $120 for a three night stay looked a lot more friendly than $400.

The hotel was a welcoming place. Sure, it wasn’t near as nice as our previous arrangements but it was incredibly clean, had friendly service and a waffle maker. Yum!

(p.s. some of our family pulled an excellent money saver and brought along lunch meat, snacks for the kiddos and water. They stored this in the room’s fridge and ate one less meal out. Smart! 🙂


2. Set an established budget for fun  

Weeks before we left, D and I had been setting aside money for our vacation. We knew that we wanted to be able to have fun without wondering where the money was coming from.

We also knew that it would be best not to go hog-wild so after rounding up our saved pennies we divided the money equally and aimed to stay within the set amount We knew exactly how much money could spend each day. Our meals were split down the middle taking an equal amount from each other’s portions. The rest we spent individually on what we wanted without worrying about the bank. That’s why I was able to get my toes done with the girls and he was able to buy protein powder without blinking an eye. 😉


3. Shop around

Because several of our party were female, particularly females who live in small country towns hours away from shopping malls, we spent a good deal of our vacation browsing sales racks, outlet stores and looking for deals we couldn’t pass.

(aka we had a lot of fun.)

I was in the market for a pair of Sanuk sandles (my other shoes were three-years old and wore out) and found them at Branson’s Landing but wasn’t sure how prices compared. It was a big blessing to be able to look around at other shops, compare prices and designs before I went back and bought the original pair. And while looking around isn’t always worth the money you save it can be helpful. 


Because  we planned ahead, booked a clean but cheap room, set a vacation budget and shopped around we were able to have a wonderful, fun vacation without the stress of going into debt or over budget.

I definitely hope we do something like this again!

Question: How do you save money for your adventures?

With lots of love, blessings and coffee!