Wednesday, June 12, 2013

How Much Effort For A Rental?

Being a New Yorker, I rented a place to call home, or to use for a  work space, all my adult life. I lived in the rentals my parents called home all my childhood. Also included was the occasional  splurge of renting a house at the beach or in the mountains for at least a month during the summer. I did not have a huge budget to rent anything expensive, so that meant I found little shacks that I could afford. They often were furnished poorly.

A couch in a rental by the beach - what would you with it?

Bad furnishings (or an ugly space) never stopped me from seeing the potential, and knowing I could make it cute on a budget and in no time flat. I never felt that it was a waste of time, money, or energy to make improvements on a rental. After all I "owned" it while I rented it, and I wanted it to be pretty, comfortable, and nice for myself and my family and friends.

This is an actual summer rental. Email me if you want to know where it is. It rents for $150. per night

I did a Guest Picks for Houzz this month: Assemble a Summer Rental Survival Kit. It was featured on one of their home pages, and it has elicited a lot of comments. Other Houzz posts of mine have made it to their home page, but this one has a had the most reaction.

Check out my Guest Picks at Houzz and see the lively discussion

Most of those making comments think I am nuts (my words) to bother so much with a rental. Of course if I could have rented better places that were lovely to begin with, no survival kit would be required. Hop over to Houzz to see the discussion.

What about you? Would you bother to fix up a rental, whether it's long or short term? I always think about Meryl Streep in "Out of Africa"  playing Karen Blixen, the scene were she is unpacking her china and lovely things. They were her talisman of civilization and her style that made her able to feel at home anywhere.

Out of Africa

I am a visual person, and I need things to be pretty and clean. It's not a bother or "work" to do a make-over. I don't need to spend much money. I enjoy the process of homemaking and decorating, even when  on "vacation". And I think I give some good ideas to add to what you might already have in your own rental survival kit over at Houzz. Please share some of your ideas too!

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  1. I would definitely do a 'make-over' for a rental. Afterall, most people like a good feeling when walking into a place! I can see lots of potential in that space!

  2. I am with you and Renae- I would need to make it more my own even if it is only a temporary space! After all, there is nothing more enjoyable than taking a room from blah to ahhh!

  3. If this is at a beach of any reputation at all, then this rental must be further away from the shore than the very back row. It doesn't look like a bargain even at the price quoted. The one thing you want to accomplish if you own a rental home or condo is get repeat business. The only way to do that is to make your rental comfortable and inviting and a place where renters enjoy all the conveniences of home. The owner must entice the renters with some luxury, a lot of comfort and a fresh and beautiful surrounding. It is amazing how many will return year after year if their expectations are met.

  4. It's been four (rented) and four (owned) for me. I guess I'm lucky. I sometimes don't feel lucky. I tend to envy my parents for getting to live sixty years in the same house that they chose and paid for; friends of mine now have had theirs for twenty, thirty and forty years (and, then, by now of course, the luxury of no more mortgage payments since they've paid off their loans). With my folks and those friends, they obviously never had to move/relocate to other jobs; all have had very long-term stable relationships with at least two incomes. They haven't been riddled with a health crisis or other big shakeups. As renters, my husband worked harder on a rental we had for a dozen years than homes we'd actually owned ourselves. I do think material things (things you have collected and which are meaningful or beautiful, other keepsakes and mementoes, photos, etc.) and the people you love around you in the home are what "makes" a living space although a neighborhood can depress you if you don't feel safe or if other residents take no pride in their surroundings and are rude. My husband is a rolling stone due to being a military brat and then with a lifelong career which has necessitated hopping all around the country; his mantra is "I don't care where I live; anywhere I hang my hat is 'home'" but I personally constantly fight the feeling of being "temporary" and wanting to be permanently settled in my "forever" home although my husband doesn't think it is actually possible mom tried to stay home in old age and ill health and it completely drained her financial resources; few can do that. I remember that my first apartment away from home in my 20s was brand-new and the landlord would forbid any nail holes in the wall, so I couldn't hang any art or photos. I got around it by using thumb tacks whose tiny holes I could fill with a toothpick tip of similar-hued paint. What I can say is that if you DO NOT make a space your home, you will always feel out of your skin and restless. I know of people who live on the road due to their jobs and they leave room in their suitcase for a few things to "decorate" a hotel room so that it seems less sterile if they're holed up there for a couple of days...a framed photo, maybe a scented candle, a soft lightweight shawl/throw, etc. I've made a "home" wherever I've hung my hat but I will probably always feel uneasy in rentals. If I'm going to move, I want to do it on my own terms...wouldn't we all...and I've had a landlord pressuring me to leave (due to her own circumstances and not mine) when I couldn't do so in her timeframe; another who'd enter my place with no notice, when I wasn't home; I guess I'm a control freak. I also hate moving; it gets harder as I get older (moving is a big job, expensive and high on the stress ladder of life). Oh, and the occasional vacation rental? Did that in childhood; we always knew the owner and had good luck. Nice little A-frame in the mountains; casual beach cottages/shacks on the coast. Never had dashed expectations (as long as the places were clean, we just embraced what was funky). Just to sum up and try to follow your question (as I ramble), I had a childhood friend who followed me to my first apartment building. He had a flair for decorating, color, style and later headed up a men's clothing section at a very nice department store here, for YEARS. He said "buzz off" (indirectly) to the fussy apartment house managers and instead did whatever he wanted to his place. The first thing he did was staple wild orange/magenta (striped) bed linens to the walls (probably vintage Vera...) as unique wall covering. Then, he screened in the tiny fenced-in patio so his cats had some space to roam. He filled it with tropical plants; big splashy pink hibiscus and palms. To Mark, it was better to live as he wanted and lose the cleaning deposit than follow stupid rules.

  5. I can remember a cabin we stayed in in Tahoe for an Astrological seminar one weekend. It was so dirty, dusty and ugly it made me physically ill. Instead of concentrating on what was being said I was thinking "how ugly is that couch and what a dump this is" Believe me, I complained. It's worth it to bring along your own things and make your surroundings pretty. A friend of mine had a stack of indian bedspreads she would use in vacation rentals. Good ideas Valorie, and congratulations on all the posts.

  6. Are any of the commenters here under 65?

  7. Yes, anonymous, I am a long way from 65, and I love Valerie and her blog. I don't normally comment, but I wanted to tell Valerie what a great post she did on this. I loved both the style and the economy of her choices.

    As to people who commented they wouldn't want to take all of the pieces suggested, I suggest that they pick and choose. I would also counter that if you were there for the summer and wanted to have a nice time, I can definitely see taking all those pieces with me. I loved all of your choices, Valerie. Great job! We have our own vacation home, and I can see using the pieces you suggested as a way to change it up for summer. Thanks!



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