Wednesday, July 23, 2014

DIY Faux Granite Countertops - Content to Rent Idea #23

Happy Wednesday! It's time for the next idea in my Content to Rent series! This series is a weekly post I'm doing that shows decorating tips for renters. In this series I explore decorating ideas that are stylish, affordable and easily removable.

Today's post is about DIY faux granite countertops. One of the most common gripes for renters is their outdated kitchens. One of the biggest reasons we're renting our current home is that the kitchen had just been updated, but this is the only rental I've ever lived in with a nice kitchen. I was browsing through Apartment Therapy's site and came across this idea of covering your old ugly countertops with a vinyl adhesive sheet to mimic the look of high-end granite for a fraction of the price.
This particular product was featured on the Rachael Ray show (video here), and looks pretty simple to use. It comes on a roll, and you just have to unroll it onto the surface of your counter. The best part is that it's a non-permanent solution, so when you move you just peel up a corner and take it off! Doesn't it look real?

The faux granite comes in a few different colors and sizes, and looks to cost about $35 - $90 depending on how large the piece is. 


I found a review of this product featured on Houselogic. The reviewer was skeptical too, but look at the results!

What a great way to give a facelift to your kitchen or bathroom counter! Thanks for stopping by to check out the most recent post in my Content to Rent series. I hope this post has given you some ideas about how to add color and personality to your rental! You can drop by again next Wednesday for another affordable decorating idea for renters (or those who prefer to change their decor frequently!).

For more inspiration, look at the other posts in this series:



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Saturday, July 19, 2014

How to Get Along with Your Landlord

If you've ever rented an apartment or house, then you know how important it is to have a good working relationship with your landlord. You never know when the air conditioning is going to go out, or when the oven stops working. Usually these things happen at the most inconvenient times! Today I'm posting with some of my best tips for getting along with your landlord.
Having your landlord promptly address any problems can save you a lot of hassle. That's supposed to be one of the biggest benefits of renting, right? Unfortunately if you don't get along with your landlord, you may run in to issues with having things fixed in a timely manner (especially if it happens on a weekend or evening), and I always worry that I will get charged for things that break. Plus if you rent long-term, you want to be able to negotiate a fair price for rent and other amenities. So here are 7 ways that you can cultivate a strong relationship with your landlord!
Okay, this one seems obvious, right? Paying your rent on time is absolutely the easiest way to establish a positive rapport with your landlord, and an opportunity every month to remind the landlord of how responsible you are. Many landlords will allow a short grace period if you can't pay by the first of the month, but I would advise that you try to get your rent in before that. Anything you can do to make the landlord think you are responsible with your finances will go a long way. Plus they will appreciate not having to wait on getting the payment or tracking you down to get the rent.
You should clean your rental like it's your own. After all, you're living there! I will admit that I have been guilty of not always following this one. I can remember in college when we knew we were only living there for a year, so why bother doing any significant cleaning? Okay, who really cleans much in college anyway??

Having a clean rental is nice while you're living there, and it shows the landlord that you care about where you're living. I always feel good when the landlord has had to come over to fix something and they comment that the house looks nice. I believe it makes them more likely to help me out when I need something if they see I am maintaining their investment by keeping the home clean.
It's best to let your landlord know as soon as possible when something breaks or isn't working right in the rental. I am from the Midwest, and I really hate it when I feel like I'm inconveniencing someone, so I do hate it when I have to call the landlord to let him know that the microwave stopped working (or the a/c, whatever). But it's my responsibility to let the landlord know so that he can fix the problem and maintain the house at the level that I rented it at.

My friend Paula had a situation in which her renters just neglected to tell her about a small leak. Eventually it became a major problem, costing her thousands of dollars instead of just a few hundred to fix the initial leak. So I try to keep in mind that the landlord will want to fix any concerns because they would rather spend a little upfront than a lot once you move out.
If there are ways you can help out the landlord, and you have the availability to do so, offer to help. I once rented an apartment from a landlord who lived out of town. When we had an issue with the air conditioner, the landlord hired someone to come look at it. At the time I worked a flexible schedule, so I offered to be at the apartment to let the technician in so the landlord didn't have to do so, saving him time for sure!

Another time, my husband and I installed a new microwave when ours (it was a built-in) stopped working. The landlord purchased it, then we said we'd install it. Technically it wasn't our responsibility to install the microwave, but it was an easy opportunity to help out, hopefully buying us some favor. I am confident that the landlord will be more likely to quickly fix something in the future because we helped him out on this one!
Be willing to ask your landlord if there's something you want in your rental. Since it isn't your home, odds are that there are some aesthetics that aren't exactly your style- things like paint color, light fixtures, mini blinds, etc. You can always ask your landlord if you can paint the room or change out the fixture. Offer to change it back when you move out, or offer to run the color or fixture by the landlord before installing it. The landlord may be open to making the change, especially if it updates the rental.

My current landlord said that we are welcome to paint as long as it's neutral. Another option could be that you propose to your landlord that you are willing to install the updated fixture (or faucet, light, whatever) if he or she is willing to pay for it. No matter what, you don't know what your landlord is willing to do unless you ask!
When you move out of your rental, make sure that it is clean. Obviously this goes a long way toward getting back your full deposit, and it also saves the landlord the time and expense of having to do that cleaning. Additionally this works in your favor because you may need this landlord in the future for a reference, and you don't want to sour what has been until this point a positive working relationship!
My last tip for getting along with your landlord is to put agreements in writing in order to avoid disputes later. Occasionally either you or the landlord make a change of some sort that isn't specified in the initial lease. Maybe you get a cat or dog, or the landlord agrees that you can install a new chandelier. It makes good sense to write down exactly what is agreed to, then sign and date it. That way when you move out, you don't get into trouble based on something you thought you had agreed upon earlier.

I have had some experience with this one. My husband and I were renting our last house, and were in the middle of our 2-year lease when the landlord had some sort of financial situation and asked if we could move out early so she could move her family back into the house. Obviously this was an inconvenience to us, and we had to find a new place to live if we agreed to help her out. We ended up finding a house we liked better, so we agreed to allow her to break the lease. However, we did get her to pay for our moving expenses and also to guarantee we got our full deposit back immediately upon leaving. We put those agreements in writing, along with the date we'd be moving out since it was different than the original lease. Knowing we had those items in writing meant that we were willing to move out early.

So there you have it, 7 tips to help you get along with your landlord. Most issues with landlords can be avoided if you are considerate and communicate when a problem comes up. By going the extra mile to make the landlord confident in you as a renter, I believe you are more likely to get concerns fixed faster, get to make changes to the rental when you want to, and more likely to get back a full deposit when you leave.

What do you think? Did I miss anything? Have you had any experiences, either as a renter or landlord, that would have been improved with any of these ideas?


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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Floor Lamps - Content to Rent #22

It's Wednesday, so it's time for the next idea in my Content to Rent series! This series is a weekly post I'm doing that shows decorating tips for renters. In this series I explore decorating ideas that are stylish, affordable and easily removable.

Today's post is about floor lamps. Not only do many rentals feature less-than-ideal natural lighting, they also often have ugly overhead lights. The worst offender is fluorescent lighting! One way to add more light to your room is to include some floor lamps. As a renter, you may not be able to remove those ugly lights, but you can leave them turned off if you use a few strategically placed floor lamps!
Buying floor lamps can be expensive unfortunately. As I was browsing around, there were really only a few places that had options under $100. You guessed it - Ikea and Target! Below are a few of my favorites from those stores.







You can also DIY a floor lamp to add style and function to your home. Below are a few fun ideas!




Tons of awesome options! I had no idea it was so simple to DIY your own lamp. Thanks for stopping by to check out the most recent post in my Content to Rent series. I hope this post has given you some ideas about how to add color and personality to your rental! You can drop by again next Wednesday for another affordable decorating idea for renters (or those who prefer to change their decor frequently!).

For more inspiration, look at the other posts in this series:


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Friday, July 11, 2014

The Easy Way to Organize your Fabric Stash

Today I'm showing you a trick I used to easily organize my fabric stash! It's so nice to have all my fabric organized because now it's easy to see what I have and I'll be more likely to actually use it.
We moved into our current house about a year ago, and have moved a few times over the last several years. During that time, my fabric supply lived in various boxes and bags. I have some fabric that I inherited from my grandma as well as fabric from random projects here and there. Unfortunately I never really knew where anything was, so I decided it was time to better organize my fabric. I started out by dumping it out on the floor and sorting it according to the amount of fabric. I had piles for: larger remnants, smaller remnants, scraps, felt, and fleece.
To organize my larger remnants, I decided to make mini bolts after seeing these. I picked up some foam board from Staples and cut it down to make the bolts. I wanted the fabric bolts to fit inside some baskets I already had from Ikea (they fit in my Expedit shelf), so I cut the foam board into rectangles based on the measurements of the baskets. The foam board I bought was 20" x 30", and I cut piece that were 10" square. I was able to get 6 mini bolts from each of 2 foam boards, for a total of 12 mini bolts. Since most of my fabric is in smaller remnants and scraps (projects for another day...), 12 mini bolts was just the right amount.

To cut the foam board, I just measured and marked with pen, then scored it with my scissors. It then snapped apart cleanly. When I tried to just cut it with scissors, it kept tearing, so I found this method to work much better.

Once I had all my mini bolts cut, I started folding the fabric into long rectangles to fit around the bolts. The first step was to lay out the fabric on the floor.
Then I folded the fabric so that it was a long rectangle that was slightly narrower than the foam board bolt I made earlier.

The last step is just to wrap the rectangle of fabric around the bolt. I chose to secure the end with a pin. Since the bolt is made of foam board, I just stuck the pin straight into the fabric. Now my mini bolt of fabric is secured in place.
I kept folding and wrapping the fabric around mini bolts until I was finished with all my larger remnants of fabric.
Then I placed the bolts into the baskets. They fit perfectly!
I filled all of one basket and part of another. Plenty of room for more mini bolts of fabric-- sounds like an excuse to buy some more fabric!
Now that my larger pieces of fabric are so easy to see and readily available, I may actually use some of them! I love that this idea cutting mini bolts can be so easily customized to fit whatever shelf or basket you use to store it. Also as I use the fabric, I'll be able to reuse the foam board mini bolt again and again.

My next project will be to organize the rest of the fabric as well, as it's currently still in piles on the floor. Any advice? How do you store your fabric?

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