340-Squared: 5 ways to personalize a rental (and still get your deposit back)

Many of us understand that while renting does have its benefits, one of the “cons” is that any demolition or major changes to the space are usually out of the question.  With this post I hope to embrace the rental and detail ways to add personality to your space without having to pay out of your deposit.

1. White walls are the perfect backdrop for colorful art.  Don’t be afraid to put some (small) holes in the wall to hang your art or shelving.  Fork up $3 for some spackle at your local hardware store.  This handy little white paste easily hides nail holes when it’s time to move out.

2. Make unexpected art from paper items.  Paper is inexpensive and easy to hang.  Check out the stores in areas like Chinatown or Latin American districts – stores in these areas usually sell an abundance of paper goods that can double as décor.   You could even check out your local party store for unexpected inspiration.  Because everyday is a party, right?  Suspend a flock of lanterns, or in the case of my home, paper puffs.  Monochromatic is extra powerful.  I also use postcards as a rotating mini gallery on my refrigerator. The nice thing about paper is that it is not so precious.  It opens up a lot of possibility and can even be recycled when you’re ready for the next thing.  

3. Select a few small walls to use for an accent color.  Be strategic here so that the wall has visual impact, but is small enough so that it is easy to paint white again at the time of move out.  The wall I chose to paint pink has a white piece of furniture in front of it.  This contrast helps the furniture pop against the background.  I also did the opposite to my kitchen island and painted the base a dark brown, so that it would recede from the eye.  I used the same pink to paint a third accent wall as you enter the bathroom.  Here, the small touch of the string of black (paper!) flags makes the act of entering the stark white bathroom almost ceremonious.

4. Do not underestimate the power of task lighting.  Task lighting is basically a fancy way of saying lamps.  I think it might be impossible to have too many lamps.  They add instant mood and ambiance in what might otherwise be a fluorescent-lit, crumbling apartment (I’ve lived in my fair share).  In my current, thankfully non-crumbling space, I use inexpensive rope lighting to create a backlit effect behind my console.  Since this sits against the pink wall, it has the unexpected benefit of creating dimension, fading from orange to pink when illuminated.  It’s like a sunset every night in here!

5. Plants make a big difference with air quality and all around hominess.  If you have the sunlight, by golly use it!  If you are afraid of your black thumb, start with just one easy-to-care for plant and slowly build your mini indoor jungle from there.

So while renting may have its woes, there are lots of ways you can get creative.  I hope that you can use these simple tips to have a big impact!   And please, don’t be afraid to send your decorating questions my way:

Meet Our Newest Member: Kyle Quilici

I am SO excited to introduce you all to the newest member of the New Minimalism team: Kyle Quilici.  She will be heading up the redesign portion of our services when she's not busy drinking cold-brewed coffee or hanging with her pup, Dolly.  

I hope you'll enjoy getting to know her and I highly recommend following her redesign and small-living adventures!


What 5 words would you use to describe your personal style?

Bold, playful, clean, simple & a little weird.

How would you design your "perfect space?"

That’s a tough one.  A perfect space depends on its functionality and the people who use it.  If it supports the functions of its users and reflects the values of those users, then it is darn near perfect.  Of course, there are some basic elements that help beautify a space, such as abundant lighting (natural, as well as artificial), tall ceilings, good ventilation, and sweeping views.

How did you come to learn you were passionate about design?

When I think back, I have actually been “planning” spaces since I was a young.  I used to draw layouts of my dream ____ (insert little girl fantasy here).  I recently came across a drawing I made in middle school of the perfect horse stables.  Ha! In high school I began to develop my eye in photography class.  I continued photography throughout university, and found I was attracted to the personalities of interior spaces.  

Fast-forward three years: after some serious goal coaching and soul searching I whittled my vast interests in design down to interiors.  Living in New York at the time, I enrolled in an Interior Design Intensive at Parsons.  Dissatisfied to learn that the traditional teachings of Interior Design did not speak to my values for sustainability, I re-routed and pursued my certificate in Sustainable Design.

What objects in your home do you feel like best showcase your values and personal aesthetic?

This is an important question that everyone should be able to answer with, “Everything!”  I am intentional about every object that enters and lives in my home with me.  If I do not love it, if it does not serve me well, then it does not stay.  Living with roommates means that compromises are made.  But as long as we communicate with each other, everything runs smoothly.

What are you in love with these days?

I try to avoid trends, especially in terms of interior spaces.  But I am naturally attracted to the bold statements of large graphics.  The intersection of digital media and design is a fun place to explore.  I love the wall coverings from Flavor Paper and the playful products from AREAWARE.  

What are your favorite design books/mentos/websites?

I intentionally keep my rolodex pretty simple, otherwise I find that I exacerbate the desire to accumulate more material things.  To keep abreast of the general conversation, I regularly reference DesignSponge and The Satorialist.  And of course, Béa from Zero Waste Home is also an inspiration.

How do you find inspiration in your daily life?

It’s everywhere!  I make an effort to always pay attention, try new things and meet new people.

What do you think is the greatest misunderstanding people have about space clearing?

I think that people assume it is a huge undertaking.  While simplified living is a way of life, it is not done in one fell swoop.  It is a muscle that you learn to use and you use it regularly.  I have a basket in my room for clothes to donate/sell, just like I have for laundry.

What is your favorite part of helping people clear their space?

Satisfied clients!  I love when they begin to understand the real energetic effects of their belongings and feel empowered to take control.  I also personally love the challenge of figuring out the best use of a space.  I always loved Tetris as a child.

Why do you feel space clearing is important?

When you feel at peace in your surroundings you can focus your energy on attaining greater goals in life.  I must acknowledge that having too much is a luxurious problem to have.  So, I see space clearing as my contribution to the reality of my immediate community.  I view the world as one large, dynamic ecosystem.  If some people have too much, and others have too little, why not help to redistribute some of those goods?  Of course, solid design plays a pivotal role as well – investing in durable goods that do not deplete the natural systems we depend on is also quite important.