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How to make a rental house a home

Jessica Watson is a mom to five, four in her arms and one in her heart. She lives in Michigan where her life is as unpredictable as the weather. After the loss of her infant daughter in 2007, Jessica left the corporate world behind, vowe...

How to... create a cozy space with ease

Because of the tough economy, many long-time homeowners are now finding themselves returning to the days of renting. When you are living in “someone else’s” house, it can be hard to make it feel like your own. Follow these easy steps to make your rental house feel as comfortable as your favorite reading chair.

Couple in home

Many former homeowners are deciding to rent instead, free of mortgage constraints. Even though it is nice to avoid the property taxes, interest rates and falling home values, it can be difficult to transition from owning a home you can do anything with to living in someone else's home with rules to follow. These steps will help you go from feeling like a guest to being ready to host your first get-together.

Step 1: Read the rules

Read through your entire rental agreement for guidance on what you can and cannot do to the interior and exterior of your home. If you do not see information on things like painting walls, hanging pictures or moving items that are not your own, ask for clarification. Get any and all clarification in writing.

Step 2: Work with what you have

If you are unable to paint, put holes in the walls or change the landscaping outside, start looking for creative alternatives to make the home feel more like your own. When you are unsure of whether a change will be within the guidelines of your rental agreement, check with your landlord. It never hurts to check and doublecheck -- and check again.

Step 3: Find alternatives to paint and wallpaper

There are many attractive options for decorating walls that can be easily removed. For kids' rooms, both Pottery Barn Kids and The Land of Nod have gorgeous wall decals that will make you forget you ever pined for paint. If you want to spruce up your room or add some spice to your kitchen, try sites like Etsy or Allposters.com for unique wall decor ideas.

Step 4: Hang pictures without holes

If you can't stand an empty wall or a hallway that isn't lined with photos of your family, don't despair. Many manufacturers now make products that will hang your pictures or artwork without a single nail. Try products from the 3M Command line that allow you to hang pretty much anything without ever picking up a hammer.

Step 5: Scope out stand-alone decor

Wander through the aisles of your favorite store for home supplies and you can find stand-alone options for anything, from holding your toilet paper to displaying your wine collection. There are countless ways to work with a "no hammer and nail rule" in your rental find. Even a potted plant in the corner or a lamp you love can make you feel at home again.

Step 6: Liven up your landscape

Maybe you had a gorgeous garden at your last home or loved planting flowers every spring but now you don't have the space or the privilege to rearrange the landscaping outside your house. Spend some time at your local nursery and find a hanging plant or two. If you have some must-haves when it comes to growing your own fruits and vegetables, you can always plant them in clay pots or even grow herbs on your windowsill or balcony.

Step 7: Enjoy!

Whether renting was your first choice or your only option, there are countless ways to bring your own sense of style and make it work for you. Spend a little time channeling your creative side and your rental house will be a home in no time!

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