How to Spruce Up A Generic Home

How to Spruce Up A Generic Home

How to Spruce Up A Generic Home

I moved into a patio apartment in the spring.

All the units look alike, and I was faced with stark white walls and mismatched kitchen appliances. After about a month of research, I came upon an idea that worked for me.

How to Spruce Up A Generic Home

In the kitchen I had a stove, dishwasher and small fridge. I had management come get the stove, and I purchased online a portable washer/dryer in one. Portable may be what it’s called, but it is quite big. At least as big as the stove was.

How to Spruce Up A Generic Home

I moved the refrigerator around until I found the best place for it. I already had a microwave and panini maker. So I purchased an electric skillet, the Breville Smart toaster/convection oven, and a crock pot. These small appliances will serve all my cooking needs.

How to Spruce Up A Generic Home

And the benefit of using small appliances is that it doesn’t heat your space up, therefore lowering your air conditioning bill.

Moving on upwards, I took three of the upper cabinet doors off, and painted them inside, to give the room a more open feel.

How to Spruce Up A Generic Home

When you are renting, you are faced with limitations. So I had to seek out solutions that would be considered temporary.

I didn’t like the kitchen counter or matching back splash. I used contact paper to remedy that problem. You can’t tell it is contact paper at all! (Underneath it’s white and a speckled color.)

How to Spruce Up A Generic Home

Still, I was left with a white refrigerator and a dark beige dishwasher front. I painted the fridge (it had rust stains), and everything in sight, with a fresh coat of white paint. I took the same checked contact paper and applied it to the front of the dishwasher. Since I prefer washing dishes by hand rather than using a dishwasher, this was a feasible fix for me. If you were going to use the dishwasher, I’d suggest ordering a dishwasher cover for the front online.

How to Spruce Up A Generic Home 

I created a gallery wall in the living space. In fact it is a symbolic gallery wall. It tells a story of where I’ve been and where I am now. Therefore it is of sentimental value to me.

How to Spruce Up A Generic Home

I always have a coffee bar, as I do love my coffee. I used a potting bench I painted red to store my coffee making essentials. I put a curtain across the bottom to store paper towels and dog food underneath. And I put up two cheap shelves that are only a few feet long above the coffee bar for coffee mugs.

How to Spruce Up A Generic Home

Paint is your friend, and your most economical fix. If you can’t paint the walls, paint the furniture.

How to Spruce Up A Generic Home

I had to purge a lot before moving here, in order to live in 725 square feet. But I don’t miss anything. This place serves me well.

How to Spruce Up A Generic Home

And the cherry on top is the huge privacy-fenced patio out the sliding glass doors in back. Actually it is why I chose this particular complex. My two Yorkies have a place to run around, and I have many containers full of plants out there, along with a seating area. I get shade from three trees, so it is a nice arrangement.

How to Spruce Up A Generic Home

Keys to personalizing a generic space:

  1. If you can’t paint the wall, paint the furniture instead. It will give what you already have new life. And the white walls will fade into the background with bright fun colors.
  2. If you can’t change the kitchen or bath, and you just detest the counter tops, try covering them with contact paper or removable wall paper.
  3. Make the few rooms you have work for you. I got rid of a stove and got portable cooking appliances instead. If you could better use your space by trading what’s there for something else, ask your landlord if that is possible.
  4. Use furniture that is multi-functional. I have two wicker chairs in my living room that are indoor/outdoor. And two in the dining area. These would also work outside if I needed more seating out there. If you need a coffee table, consider an ottoman with storage.
  5. Look at what you have with new eyes. Could one piece of furniture actually serve you better used as something else? For instance, do you have a low buffet or dresser you could use as a coffee bar? Pinterest will give you lots of ideas for these.

How to Spruce Up A Generic Home

Don’t feel defeated just because you are living in a space that is plain or temporary. Use your creativity and think outside the box. Research ways to personalize your home so that it serves your own personal needs. And places a smile on your face every time you come home and open the door.

Now tell us:

How do you spruce up your space?

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  1. Hi Brenda! Oh, you are a guru when it comes to making the most of a space. I love all you’ve done to your little condo and it is so you! How are the contact topped cabinets working out! Looks like soapstone. You’re a genus at the checkered backsplash and dishwasher door. I just love this. Your patio looks really spacious and I love how you’ve filled it with pots and plants. You are truly an inspiration. I needed you to come and help me arrange my new/old house kitchen cabinets. My new/old kitchen is larger than what I had but I don’t have as much storage! I’ve done my best but it’s probably not good enough. You have a nice ending to this week.
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia 😉

  2. You did a wonderful job of making that neutral space your own, Brenda. You put so much of your own personality into your home. I just love it. My first real apartment on my own I painted each room a different fun color. (I i didn’t know back then that you needed landlord approval). lol I made curtains and took down those awful blinds that were in there. It was fun and it made it my own. My bonus was there was a large pool right outside my door. xo Diana

  3. You have done a great job. I have enjoyed following you around, starting in Texas. Each place was different but, you made them your own and enjoyable.


  4. You’ve done a wonderful job personalizing your space. It looks like you’ve lived there for a long time even though you just moved in this year! Thanks for all the tips you gave.

  5. I just love everything about your apartment. You have done such an excellent job, and I sure wished you lived close to me because I need lots of help!

  6. Brenda
    I never thought of a home in terms of being generic. But it can certainly be said that an apartment is generic. They all look the same.
    I would guess dorm rooms or college spaces are the same way. I’ve rented in the past– I’ve never lived in an apartment that I can remember. My dad tells me that my parents lived in an apartment when I was an infant– so of course, I don’t remember. 🙂
    Since marriage– I’ve lived in plenty of rental spaces; several of them mobile homes.
    Most didn’t want the paneling painted. So of course, adding color with blankets, pillows, curtains, table cloths ANYTHING VIBRANT…helped to minimize the wood grained walls.
    It was way before blogging– and taking pictures of our creative decorating; but the same thing would apply.
    You’ve done wonders with your space.
    An encouragement for sure!

  7. I LOVE the rectangle rose print next to the antique sign on your gallery wall; where did you find such a beautiful thing?

    You are a force, Brenda, I’m sitting here with my mouth hanging open, lol!

  8. My tiny home is decorated and I am content with everything. I spruce things up with fresh flowers once in a while. I have incorporated more house plants as well. I bought an adorable turquoise bird cage and hung it up in my bathroom and placed a houseplant in the cage. I was very pleased with it.

  9. Hi Brenda,
    What an amazing job you’ve done personalizing your space. I think your list of tips is brilliant and, since it comes from experience, will be useful to many. As always, love your photos…great eye candy!

  10. Just wow, Brenda.

    You used so many creative ways to personalize and beautify your space. The open cabinets; the ICE on the freezer door; the checkered contact paper; and on and on. So many great tips and uses of color too. I especially like your “If you can’t paint the walls, paint the furniture”.

    Awesome post!

    ~ Robin

  11. I will say it again, you are a genius with small spaces and you come with so many great ideas. Never one to run from a problem…you meet it off at the pass!

    Happy Weekend!

    Jane xx

  12. Oh, Brenda, you have been such an inspiration to me. I love how you have decorated you little place. It is so cozy and cute. I have had to down size so many times, it is unbelievable. And I may have to do it again. I actually prefer living in a small place. Thanks for all your encouragement and inspiration. Hugs, Karie

  13. Brenda your inspirational! I love your blog and what you have done with your home. Its creative and reflects a meaningful home of love, comfort and beauty. I live in 2 small rooms of 300 square feet now and am incorporating my own creativity as I decorate and change things to suit my style. I cannot change anything but I am using my décor ideas to make it my own. Thank you for sharing your beautiful home You garden looks like a nursery one would visit to sit a while and be among the beautiful plants. Well done.

  14. I love your new place and what you’ve done with it. It looks so cheerful and welcoming. The patio is a great space for your dogs and for your green thumb too! I hope you are going to very happy there.

  15. Brenda, I have followed your blog on and off for a while and I love your suggestions in this post. I have a rather large home, very old and not so pretty. We know that it’s not our forever home, but for now it is and I would like for it to feel as cozy as possible. I am also faced with wanting to spend very little on what I do to it, although I have total freedom to paint walls etc. thanks for giving some good suggestions here.

  16. Hi Brenda,
    I love your cozy home! Your taste in decorating is similar to mine. I have a question. How do you stay on top of dusting and keeping your pretty knick-knacks so nice and shiny? I know you have a small home now, but how did you manage in your larger home? I cannot stay on top of my dusting even though I am retired. My days are choppy with different responsibilities…. I rarely have a day entirely to myself. I was just wondering if you have a system. Thanks so much! Joan


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