Category Archives: Rental Style


Painting Your Rental: Alternatives to Builder’s Beige

Rental unit owners are frequently caught in a bind when it comes to interior paint color:  they are constantly advised that they should choose neutral shades (read “Builder’s Beige”) throughout their rental.  But what if they want to enhance the appeal of their rental with more interesting paint colors? Is beige the only safe choice?

Color Psychology:  Paint Color Can Foster Positive Emotion

One thing to consider is that the color in our environment can impact how we feel. While a renter’s furniture may have a better chance of fitting in with neutral beiges, greys, and the latest “greige”, non-neutral colors could have positive emotional impacts on a renter. When thinking about paint color, experts say you should consider the purpose of each room. Then choose a color that will encourage the emotions you want that room to foster:

  • Pale blues, greens and lavenders can have a calming effect. Consider using these colors in rooms where a renter will rest and relax, such as the bedrooms.  These colors have also become more popular in bathrooms, as a way of recreating a spa experience of rest and rejuvenation.
  • Green is also a great color for a home office—it is considered the “color of concentration” and if you’re going to be surrounded at work by one color for a while, green should be a top contender!
  • Warm tones, such as yellows, oranges, and reds are more friendly and inviting. Consider using these colors in the living room and entryway, or in rooms where family and friends gather, such as the living room, as they’re thought to stimulate conversation. Be careful with bolder shades, especially red, which has been shown to increase heart rate and blood pressure, stimulate activity and also increase appetite!
  • There is a reason why neutral colors have such broad appeal in rental units and for new homes: they can be relaxing and tranquil, but can also be warm and inviting. If pale blues and greens are too “cooling” for your tastes, consider taupe or a grey/beige, as they are also considered calming, but at the same time can inject more warmth into a room.

Photo by Iriana Shiyan

Rental property owners should consider room size when choosing paint colors.  With the right color choices, small rooms can feel more spacious and airy and large spaces can feel more intimate:

  • A small room can appear to be larger if its walls are painted a lighter color and if the ceiling is white.  Bold colors on walls tend to emphasize their proximity.
  • To make a large room feel more cozy and intimate, choose medium to dark earth tones or warmer neutral colors.  Also, consider painting the ceiling a lighter shade of the wall color.
  • Create the illusion of a higher ceiling by selecting the same light color for the walls and the ceiling.

Room Square Footage:  Size Matters (When Choosing Paint Color)

Rental property owners should consider room size when choosing paint colors.  With the right color choices, small rooms can feel more spacious and airy and large spaces can feel more intimate:

  • A small room can appear to be larger if its walls are painted a lighter color and if the ceiling is white.  Bold colors on walls tend to emphasize their proximity.
  • To make a large room feel more cozy and intimate, choose medium to dark earth tones or warmer neutral colors.  Also, consider painting the ceiling a lighter shade of the wall color.
  • Create the illusion of a higher ceiling by selecting the same light color for the walls and the ceiling.
Beautiful white, blue and beige living room

Photo by Iriana Shiyan

Using Multiple Colors to Create “Flow” (and For Minimizing Frustration!)

Choosing one paint color can be challenging.  Choosing multiple colors that work together throughout a home can be so frustrating and time-consuming that you may want to throw your hands up in the air and forget the whole painting project in the first place.   Perhaps that’s why so many rentals are “builder’s beige” throughout!

Color Wheel Basics 

The color wheel is a helpful tool to see the relationship between colors and hues. The three primary colors are red, blue, and yellow.  Primary colors combine with each other to make three secondary colors:  orange, green, and purple.  Six tertiary colors result when secondary colors are combined:  yellow-green, blue-green, blue-violet, red-violet, red-orange, and yellow-orange.

Using the Color Wheel to Select a Color Palette 

If you’re having a hard time finding colors and shades that work well together throughout the rental home or apartment, consider these four options:

  • Monochromatic colors: use different shades of the same color.
  • Complementary colors: are located opposite each other on a color wheel.  This selection can tend to give a more formal feel to a living space.  One color should be subtle and the other color should be bolder.
  • Split complementary colors: are more daring.  Choose a main color on the color wheel.  Next find the complementary color and select the colors on each side of the complementary color.
  • Related colors:  are located next to each other on the color wheel.  These color combinations tend to be more casual and informal.
color wheel

Image from Fotolia.com

Tips for Using Multiple Colors Throughout a Home

  • Select one color to use on the trim throughout the rental home or unit.  This helps create flow from room to room.
  • Consider having each room’s colors be a slight variation on those of the adjoining room’s colors, or use one primary wall color throughout the house and use accent colors on fireplaces, mantels, bookshelves and other built-ins.
  • Interior designers often suggest picking an item of furniture, or a favorite piece of art as the starting point.  As a rental property owner, you can’t do that, but you can choose your color scheme based on the carpet or floor color, as well as the wood trim color.
  • Use swatches of the colors you think you want, and then also select a swatch for each of those colors that is one shade darker and one shade lighter.  Put them on the walls you’re thinking about painting, and see how they look together and also how they vary throughout the day as the light in the room changes.
  • Don’t agonize over these choices too much!  If you’re taking too long making these decisions, or if you don’t want to make them in the first place, check out the color palettes on display at the local hardware store.  Paint companies hire color experts to put these color combinations together – and if someone else has done it for you, perhaps there’s no reason to reinvent the (color) wheel!

| July 17, 2012 More

Rent Your House Fast: Revitalize Your Kitchen for Less Than $1000

Want to have your vacant rental property snapped up almost before you can post the “for rent” ad? In a world where rental houses and apartments typically feature outdated cabinets paired with beige laminate and linoleum, an updated, trendy kitchen can set you apart from the crowd and get you a signed lease agreement faster than you can say “mosaic tile backsplash.”

Below are three stunning kitchen remodels that cost less that $1000 to complete.

1. The $967 Kitchen Remodel from This Old House:

Before and After:

kitchen remodel 1 - before

Homeowner Edwardo carefully sanded and painted existing cabinets a gorgeous shade of chocolate brown, then replaced the cabinet pulls. His major expenses included the glass tile backsplash, which cost $400,  and new laminate counter tops with a stainless steel edge, which cost $300. The rest of the budget went into inexpensive paint and updated hardware and fixtures.

2. Cabinet refresh for $350 from DIY Life:

Before and After:

If an entire kitchen overhaul doesn’t fit within your handyman/handywoman skill set or budget, consider showing the cabinets in your rental house’s kitchen some love before putting your house on the market. If your particular set of cabinets doesn’t lend itself well to a sophisticated refinish, go for fun and funky instead. DIY Life recommends using a “furniture refinisher, such as Formby’s or Miniwax, to strip off most clear finishes” before attempting a new coat of paint.

3. The $30 Kitchen Remodel from Sunset Magazine, via Design Hole

Before and After:

30 dollar kitchen - before

Yes, you read that right. $30, y’all. As you might guess, this “remodel” involves paint, paint, and more paint. These homeowners took the “remodel-via-paint” concept to a new level, though, using Kelly Moore Rust-Oleum paint to give the 1970s appliances a facelift along with the cabinets. While you may not want to choose such bold colors for a rental, the overall technique is genius. And it cost $30. Thirty dollars! Did I mention it cost $30?

Have you updated a kitchen inexpensively? What did you do?

| October 23, 2011 More