Category Archives: Rental Remedies

Creating a Home Office in the Living Room

Living Room Home Office secretary desk closedWhen you live in an apartment, space comes at a premium and you don’t always have an entire room to dedicate to your home office. But whether you use your office to work from home full-time or just to pay your bills, having a dedicated workspace is a necessary part of keeping your small space organized.

I had the luxury of a dedicated home office in our small rental home but recently gave it up to create the baby’s nursery.  As an alternative, I tried creating an organized office space in an unused corner of our living room that didn’t sacrifice the style of this space we use for entertaining.

Living Room Office secretary desk in useI set up my vintage secretary desk against some unused wall space between my living room and dining area.

A secretary desk is one of the best pieces of furniture for creating a low-profile office in a common area of your home. These desks usually have drawers on the bottom, shelves on top and a fold-out desk top that can be closed up to conceal your computer and other electronics at the end of the day.

Living Room Office desk comparisonThe upper shelves are perfect for storing office clutter, but style also matters when the workspace is trying to blend with an area that might be used for entertaining, like the living room. I kept things stylish with the following storage tricks:

  • A decorative white file box holds folders for my paper clutter, such as bills to pay, papers to scan or file, and coupons.
  • A shoebox and lid, wrapped in solid and patterned wrapping paper, contains notes and cards received.
  • Binders are a great organization tool, but they aren’t exactly decorative, so our household binders also got wrapped in wrapping paper.
  • A cubby holds blank notecards, while another holds a stamp dispenser and a pretty tea box for dumping loose change.
  • The addition of a few decorative objects amongst the “useful” storage on the shelf finishes off a polished look that complements the living room.

Using a desk with drawers offers the added bonus of extra storage space. While the top drawer of my desk stores office supplies, the lower drawers hold kitchen and dining linens that don’t fit in kitchen cabinets.

Living Room Office double duty drawer storageIf you don’t have a secretary desk, there are many other options for creating a workspace that blends with your apartment’s style.

In a modern space, the simple Parsons table provides a sleek workspace, and a laptop can be tucked in the middle drawer when not in use. In a more traditional living room, an antique or vintage wooden desk with big drawers could do the trick. The addition of a few small wall shelves above the desk provides more decorative storage space.

A few tips on making an office space blend in your living room:

  • A simple desk can double as a table when placed behind, or next to, your sofa.
  • When storing office items in plain sight, get creative with decorative containers.
  • If your desk lacks storage, a decorative ottoman with hidden storage and a removable lid could double as file storage and a coffee table or extra seat for guests.
  • Instead of adding clutter with a desk chair, find a seat that does double duty, such as a comfortable dining chair that can be moved back and forth between the desk and the table.
  • Keep cord clutter contained with cord wraps or clips. A tangle of cords cascading down the back of a desk and onto the floor will quickly make a space look less put-together.
  • Charge your electronics out of sight. A desk drawer can provide concealed charging storage; just drill a hole in the back of the drawer to pass the charge cords through.
  • In very small living rooms, consider letting your computer monitor do double-duty as your TV.

No matter how small your apartment, the key to sneaking an office space into your living room décor is to stay organized and keep clutter to a minimum. An organized space is always a happier space!

Living Room Office chair at secretary desk

An Easy, Temporary Dog Bathing Solution for Renters

If you’re a renter and a dog owner, chances are you struggle to bathe your dogs easily in your apartment. In the summer you may have access to an outdoor space with a hose, but in the winter there’s not much you can do, short of putting your pup in the shower and climbing in with them. At least that’s what I used to do, in all of the homes I’ve rented with my dogs over the years. And let’s face it – showering with your dog is awkward for both parties involved!

Easy Pet Bath title

So, do you want a temporary, rental-friendly solution that’s not only affordable, but easy to install yourself – without compromising your security deposit? Here’s how I converted my shower so it can do double-duty as a pet bathing station.

I found an inexpensive shower conversion kit at my local big-box hardware store. I was initially going to bite the bullet and replace my landlord’s shower head with a fancy (and expensive) handheld shower head system, but a closer look at all the options found that there are inexpensive handheld shower conversion kits that work with your existing shower fixture.

Any handheld shower head will work well for bathing your pups, but some are simpler and more affordable than others. I chose the . . . continue reading at

7 DIY Rug Options for Renters Or the Noncommittal

When you’re decorating a room, rugs are a fantastic way to make a huge impact on a space – the bigger, the better.  However, the prices of large rugs can intimidate a renter who’s decorating a temporary space, or a homeowner who is on a tight budget.

Now that I’m trying to finally decorate our basement TV room, I’m on the hunt for an inexpensive, large rug.  I’m happy to invest in a beautiful piece of furniture, but since we are renting, now is not the time to splurge on a fancy, over-sized rug.  That led me to search for DIY and budget options – and I was thrilled by the many results I found.

7 DIY Rug Options for Renters

1.  Painted Cloth Rugs – This option seems to be a popular one with DIY bloggers.  You find an inexpensive, plain rug, then either tape off a pattern or use a stencil when you paint it.  I haven’t found much info on how well a painted rug holds up to foot traffic, but it sure looks like a fun project that could yield great results if done well.

This painted rug by Sarah M Dorsey Designs is my absolute favorite:

Sarah of Diddle Dumpling painted her white Ikea rug using a DIY stencil. It looks fantastic!

2.  Painted Jute or Sisal Rugs – Jute Rugs are another great candidate for the paint treatment.  Below, Marian of Mustard Seed Interiors gave a simple jute rug a classy upgrade with a simple white border.

3.  Sharpie Sketched Rug – This is a newer twist on the painted rug concept.   Katie of Upcycled Treasures created a great West Elm knockoff for only $25 by using a sharpie to create the rug’s pattern.

4. Fabric Scrap Floorcloth – This funky rug is essentially a small quilt!  The blogger at Craftapple turned it into into a sturdy rug with a few simple supplies.  Skeptical? I was too, until I read how she did it.

5. DIY Fabric Yardage Rug – Camila of Effortless Style sewed a chevron rug out of fabric and rug backing.  I think this is a great option for renters who are stuck with dingy wall-to-wall carpet in living rooms or bedrooms.  A simple DIY rug like this would pull the room together if placed under or a bed or coffee table, and you don’t have to worry about heavy wear since it would sit over carpeting.

6. Remnant Cutout Rug – Finally, you could get an inexpensive remnant from a wall-to-wall carpet store and have it bound.  But why do that when you could cut out a fun shape instead, like they did at Offbeat Home?  A simple wavy edge could kick things up a notch.

7.  Overdyed Vintage Rug – I’ve saved my favorite DIY rug option for last.  To transform an old, unfashionable rug, you dye it a rich jewel or dark tone.  The former pattern peeks through, but the wash of bold color helps overcome the outdated pattern.  Be sure to use a natural fiber rug (cotton or wool)  to ensure it drinks up the dye evenly.

This rug at Paperblog is my inspiration – and you’ll never believe what it looked like in the “before” image!

I also love how this one by Kristen F Davis Designs turned out:

For our basement solution, I’m leaning towards that last option – overdying a vintage rug.  Now it’s time to hit the thrift store in search of an old, unloved rug!  In the mean time, you can find more rug and floor covering ideas on my Rugs & Floors Pinterest Board.

Janery Studio Makeover Part 10: Perfecting the Faux Built-Ins

The last glimpse I shared into the Janery Sewing Studio may have looked pretty decent, but there was a detail to the rental-friendly faux built-in shelving that needed to be addressed.  Since January is a quiet time for the shop, I decided to pull everything off the shelves and finally really finish the faux built-ins.


Janery Studio Faux Built In Shelves in a Rental

Here’s what was lacking: I originally had cobbled together a wide shelf with a lip to sit across my bottom IKEA cabinets.  I didn’t remove that before building the top shelving unit, but I should have.  When I finally removed it, I was left with an unfinished area between the shelves on the top and the cabinets on the bottom, which you can see here:

Janery Studo White Besta Doors-1

Here’s how I finished it off:

I joined a narrow board to the bottom of the shelving unit using my new Kreg jig, and thank goodness I had it, because it made it so easy.

Janery Stuio Shelves Process


The middle cabinet was actually a tall IKEA cabinet that we cut in half, so the top was unfinished. I cut a thin piece of trim to fit that little gap above the top drawer, and used clamps to carefully glue it in place.

Janery Stuio Shelves Process 2

Then I completed multiple rounds of sanding and painting and sealing.  When I was done, there was still a visible seam where the new board joined to the existing shelving, but I’m ok with that.

It doesn’t have to be perfect. 

Janery Studio Shelves Detail

I’m just satisfied that the shelves are truly done now.

Janery Studio Shelves

Next week: How I created my gold drawer handles to kick things up a notch.

PS: The Janery Winter Clearance sale is still going strong – save 50% on all the handmade pillows, pet beds, and accessories in my shop with the code CRAZY50.

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