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How to update your rental on a limited budget (+ a lot of elbow grease)

It's been a little over a month since my husband and I moved to a new rental here in Seattle, and it's finally starting to feel like home. As a professional organizer, I have a hard time not being a perfectionist, and have reluctantly accepted that home improvement and renovations don't happen overnight. The new space is the ground floor of a craftsman-style house, and we were excited about all the extra space and natural light. But with the new additional space came a longer list of to-dos; it's so very true that smaller spaces are easier to maintain and style!

We started by deep cleaning the kitchen and bathrooms, and after they were squeaky-clean headed to the two bedrooms to update the paint color. Clean white walls are a must-have for me, and the lime green and deep red left by the previous owner was causing anxiety so we got to work immediately. After a few coats of Benjamin Moore Simply White, we were left with a blank slate and I could finally sleep at night ($300 for paint and supplies) knowing the blood-red wall was put to rest. 

Other not-so-glamorous updates that we opted to do ourselves included removing the rental's horizontal blinds, which were dirty and clunky, and replacing them with roller blinds ($250) and IKEA curtains. We also installed additional kitchen shelving from IKEA ($20), updated the kitchen sink faucet ($30) with a spray nozzle because doing the dishes without one is no fun, and updated the fireplace with a little paint and contact paper ($15) to disguise the faux Italian villa brickwork. I also decided to update the dining room chandelier and sconces with fixtures that more my style ($200), even though these pieces might not work in future rentals.

Instead of rushing to buy new furniture we tried to make our pieces from the previous apartment work. We configured various arrangements to see what worked best, and gave ourselves a few days to see how we actually used each space. We ended up buying a few new and vintage Persian rugs that fit the space because our old ones were too small, and added extra lamps throughout for ambient light.  I sold a lot of our older pieces on craigslist and put that cash towards a few new pieces, following my favorite "one in, one out" mantra. 

Here's a peek at how it looks like so far, stay tuned for more updates as we continue to make it ours!

Before photos: