So you live in a rental and are looking for a way to refresh your space. Stop us if you’ve heard these before: Swap out cabinet pulls. Try a removable wallpaper accent wall. Give your IKEA furniture a colorful coat of paint. And while all of those are great options, you can definitely do more—and this 10-by-12-foot bedroom is proof.
Designer and vintage shop owner Autumn Hachey designed this teeny-tiny space for her client, Anastasia, a dancer who travels so much that she never had time to use her bedroom as anything other than a utilitarian storage space. “She loves Paris—she was actually there while we were doing her renovation,” says Hachey. “So we wanted it to feel really Parisian and sophisticated.” Naturally, she harnessed her talent for vintage furniture scouting; nothing says “cool and French” like a bevy of eclectic antique scores, after all.
First, there’s the sleek white vanity, a Facebook Marketplace purchase that was originally a dingy yellow and full of chips. Then there’s the side table that arrived sans topper from a garbage pile in the basement of a thrift shop. Hachey salvaged the base, scoured the shop for a marble tabletop, and put them together to make an almost-bespoke piece. Now the room is an inspiring mix of secondhand and DIY (there’s even a story behind those gorgeous hardwood floors)—and it was all done for under $1,500. Who says a rental can’t look this chic?
We chatted with Hachey to learn how she turned this drab space into something special.
When buying vintage, shop strategically. Look for how long something’s been listed to gauge other buyers’ interest and therefore value. “For example, the vanity had already been up for two weeks, so I knew it wasn’t something I had to rush on because there wasn’t a lot of interest. I knew I could negotiate,” explains Hachey.
The same tactic holds true for the opposite end of the spectrum. “If you find something amazing that’s just been listed, jump on it immediately, [which we did for] the rattan chair by the desk,” she adds.
Stalk Your Furniture
Hachey sets alarms to check back on items on sale that she’s had her eye on. “For auctions, I’ve had it happen where no one bids for the entire week, and within the last half hour, they’ll outbid you if you’re not paying attention,” she says.
Think Outside the Rental Box
While Hachey is a fan of more traditional temporary space updates, like peel-and-stick wall decals, the crowning jewel of this bedroom renovation has to be the floors. You’d be forgiven for thinking the hardwood was original to the space, but they’re actually vinyl floorboards that Hachey’s boyfriend installed with only an X-Acto knife. “I knew that changing the floors would transform the entire space,” she says of the project, which only took about three hours. “When we started, Anastasia’s room had parquet flooring. We found loose lay-plank vinyl flooring that we simply laid on top—no glue, no adhesive, it all just popped into place. She can take it up when she leaves.”
Get the how-to for these floors on Hachey’s blog.
Maximize Your Impact With Minimal Work
“If you’re limited in budget, think about what you use the most and how you can make it more beautiful and functional at the same time,” recommends Hachey. One example of this is the gallery wall, which she created with $5 prints from Etsy in IKEA frames. “The entire wall cost under $250, which, for renters, is a great way to make your space more interesting, especially as an alternative to painting or wallpapering,” she notes.
When in Doubt, DIY
If you can’t find it, make it. Here, Hachey transformed a $30 ottoman into a velvet statement seating piece with the help of costume fringe. She looked to designers she loves for crafting inspiration (her go-tos: Emily Henderson, Sarah Sherman Samuel, and Lauren Maclean). And don’t sleep on the DIY blogging community. Hachey recommends vlogger Alexandra Gater for inspo specifically targeted toward rental makeovers.
See more rentals that inspire:
An NYC Rental That Looks Straight Out of L.A.
Inside a Cool and Customized Charleston Bachelor Pad Rental
A Colorful Rental Transformation That Will Make You Rethink Temporary Living