By Charlotte Safavi

Published on August 14, 2015

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Photography by RAZAN ALTIRAIFI

“It’s a rental,” says Washington DC designer and blogger Kerra Michele Huerta of the 560 sq ft one-bedroom apartment she calls home in Dupont Circle. “Everything I did had to be easily reversible, so I could put it back when it was time to move out!”

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It turns out that Kerra’s best friend is paint, and it also happens to be landlord friendly (check first). “Paint is by far the fastest, easiest, and least expensive way to transform a room,” she says, upping the rental’s once-blah paint. Greige now wraps the living room, while charcoal, with a chalk finish, defines the kitchen. The bedroom is a cocoon of black.

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Other than Kerra’s passion for graphic black-and-white furnishings, she tinkers with emerald-green (that sofa!), as well as with turquoise, aqua, and teal accents. Another key to rental rules is investing in stylish light fixtures that replace the builder-grade ones and can travel to the next home. Ditto for unique furnishings, including the vintage finds that Kerra likes to mix in.

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Throughout the rental, easy fixes make the ordinary extraordinary, like removing upper kitchen cabinet doors (store them) and painting their interior shelf-backs minty green. Kerra even added removable high-contrast wallpaper to the fridge and backsplash.

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“I camouflage the unattractive elements,” says Kerra, popping a woven basket over an ugly thermostat in her living room. “Most people walk into my rental and think it’s mine, because it’s cozy, comfortable, and has a lot of personality,” she adds.

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“In a small rental, rooms have to do double-duty. I have a round table in my entry, which becomes a dining table.”

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“People are afraid to personalize a rental. Check with your landlord first but there’s a lot you can do.”

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“Invest in pieces you can take.”

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A tiny home office packs a lot of bang with Kerra’s DIY take on a harlequin wall pattern. 

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CHAIR:  www.amazon.com

DESK IKEA: with customized gold legs

PAINT: Benjamin Moore Bahaman Sea Blue, Simply White, and Minty Green. Max White

RUG:  www.wayfair.com