It has been said that a house is made with hands, while a home is made with heart. But if the place where you're living isn't yours, it can be a challenge to transform it without breaking your lease . . . or your budget.
Data from the U.S. Census reveals that 35 percent of households are renter occupied. Of these renters, a whopping 72 percent are 30-years-old or younger. If you fall into this demographic, you probably know what it's like to come up against money, time, and creativity crunchers that can dash those splendid hopes of adding a more personal touch to your un-owned abode.
Eager to make smart choices in re-imaging our own spaces, we spoke with Christiana Coop, co-founder of Hygge & West (hygge, pronounced "hooga" is Danish for cozy). She believes that, "While hygge manifests itself differently for each person, it is ultimately about living better." Whether you own or rent, investing in pieces that are clever in both form and function can help you discover new ways to achieve hygge and joyful living at home—without having to hire an interior decorator to get there.
01. Accent a wall or other flat surfaces. Apart from adding immediate interest to any room, accent walls can highlight a focal point or define a separate area within a larger space. Create bold color against neutral walls with Hygge & West's removable wallpaper tiles—easy to apply, reusable, and removable without leaving a reside. Not ready to transform an entire wall? Christiana says, "We also recommend using them on any small flat surface—like covering a small, ugly fridge or drawers. It's a fun way to deal with a not-very-attractive item in your home." DIY alternative: Add stripes or jump on the chevron trend by applying Easy Stripes from WallsNeedLove.
02. Spend a little more on functional furniture. Having a limited budget when setting up your life and space doesn't mean you have to choose price over quality with mass-produced items. Consider replacing some "temporary" pieces with higher-quality items that are handy and versatile. In 2007, Christiana and co-founder Aimee Lagos, brought Ferm Living to the United States (ferm is Danish for clever). Multifunctional home accessories like Ferm Living's wire baskets serve as a seat, side table, and storage in one. Christiana confesses, "I have five. They're so useful, well-made, and cool. I use one as a bedside table that I also store throws in."
DIY alternative: Repurpose a sturdy wire basket like World Market's Ryan Wire Basket and a sturdy cut of wood that is at least 4" broader from your local hardware store to create your own multifunctional furniture piece.
03. Consider statement shelving. "Shelving can be versatile as far as what room you want to use it in," Christiana says. "And you can choose to use it as a practical piece, storage solution, or even as a work of art." Here's your chance to think beyond the BILLY bookcase. Ferm Living's shelving units come in eye-catching shapes and sizes—from round and hexagonal to color-blocked and architectural. Bring a room to life by displaying souvenirs, memorabilia, and quirky knickknacks that make you smile.
DIY alternative: Not in the market for new shelving? Add a pop of color to one you already own by lining its inside walls in chic, patterned contact paper like Target's Shelf Liner in Pastel Blue.
04. Mix in some metal. "Bringing metal into the mix creates new dimension in a room, especially if you mix up different textures and materials." Ferm Living's hexagon pots in brass add an element of glamour in that they're geometrically shaped with a matte finish for just the perfect hint of shine. Functional items such as vases, candleholders, and frames made of copper, wrought iron, or vintage metals can add a touch of enchantment to your existing décor.
DIY alternative: Spray-paint empty cans, wine bottles, or jars in a matte metal color like Krylon's ColorMaster Brushed Metallic in Caramel Latte to transform would-be trash into interior-décor treasure.