Downsizing after 50: going from owning to renting

This may be the most difficult part of downsizing – moving into a rental place!

Don’t get me wrong, I have enough of a budget that my new apartment can be in a great location with all the amenities I desire. It’s the freedom to decorate as I choose and yet not spend money on a place I don’t own – that’s the glitch.

I’ve already spoken to my drapery lady and she says she’ll make the drapes with a huge hem so no matter where I live or what window needs covering we can adapt the drapes. This is a good thing since custom drapes aren’t inexpensive, however they add greatly to diminishing sound and light – both of which the city will have in abundance 24/7!

Kitchens – I’m a kitchen snob! I love good appliances – I don’t want to have to wash my dishes before they go into the dishwasher. I want a freezer on the bottom fridge to avoid getting on my hands and knees to find the old soy sauce at the bottom back. And it’s got to look modern and clean and be functional.I don’t want to feel ‘grotty’ when I go for morning coffee……

I’m lucky, I know ‘kitchen guys’ and I can get new counters at a decent cost which go over the old ones….. I can paint, and I can change the knobs but sometimes a kitchen comes with the uglies – something a new surface here and there won’t disguise. This happens in homes as well but the fix adds to the house value, in a rental case it’s a temporary fix with the $$$ coming straight out of your pocket. You might be able to negotiate with the landlord if the changes you wish to make he has to do anyway. Perhaps some changes are worth it for quality of life for you especially if you know you are going to stay put for years (or in my case – you just can’t help yourself).

This morning I found yet another great article/blog from Apartment Therapy:

On the Cheap: 8 Rental Kitchen Upgrades Under $100

On the Cheap: 8 Rental Kitchen Upgrades Under $100

If you rent or you’re a homeowner on a tight budget that doesn’t include a kitchen renovation in the near future, consider making small upgrades instead. Affordable projects — like switching out light fixtures or improving your cabinet storage — can make a huge difference. None of these ideas are revolutionary, but they work and they’re relatively easy to do.

Add Wall Shelving

A few wall shelves provide extra storage space and a place to show off your best dishes and cookware. For a full list of resources see: Best Sources for Small Kitchen Organization.

  • Ikea IKEA : Their wall-mounted kitchen shelves include some of their best-selling collections, like the stainless steel Grundtal line, starting at $15 for a shelf. Inexpensive and sturdy, these slatted metal shelves can double as racks — use a few hooks to hang mugs or kitchen towels.

Dress Up Your Kitchen Tiles

If you’re stuck with ugly kitchen tiles, try covering them up with removable decals. For more temporary, rental-friendly solutions see: 10 Temporary, Removable Products for Renters.

  • Tiletatoo 2 Jane : This online store sells Mibo Tile Tattoos around $18 for a set of 6. These waterproof peel-and-stick decals are designed for standard tiles, and they come in 4-inch squares, 6-inch squares, and 6-by-3-inch rectangles.

Double Your Shelf Space

Most rental cabinets are basic boxes that can waste a lot of space if you don’t equip them with cabinet inserts. For other ideas on better utilizing available space in your kitchen, see: How to Create More Storage Space in the Kitchen.

Hang a Pot Rack or Pegboard

It’s an old idea but a good one — pegboard provides a versatile surface for organizing pots, pans, and kitchen tools. For installation tips see: How to make a Pegboard Wall Organizer.

  • Pegboard Home Depot : You can easily make a painted pegboard pot rack for around $30 or less, but Home Depot also sells colorful metal pegboard for $45 a sheet, if you want something a little fancier. It comes pre-painted in bright yellow, red, white, or orange.

Upgrade the Lighting

If you can’t hard-wire a new fixture, look for plug-in lighting that can be mounted to the wall or ceiling. For a full list of rental-friendly lighting see: Lighting for Renters: 10 Sources for Plug-Ins.

  • Gracioushome Gracious Home : New York store Gracious Home has a section dedicated to plug-in Utility Lighting, including this Multi-Purpose Spot Light ($18) which could be useful as a kitchen spot on the ceiling or wall. It’s less expensive than track lighting, but looks similar.

Invest in a Quality Dish Rack

If you don’t have a dishwasher, your dish rack is one of the most frequently used items in your home, so it better work well. For a short list of recommended racks see: Best Dish Racks: 10 Sources.

  • Dishrack Simplehuman : Simplehuman’s dish racks come with 5-year warranties. Although they cost a little more, they’re well-made pieces with superior drainage, and most of their models have modular components that can be arranged in different ways. Shown: System Dish Rack, $60.

Add Window Treatments

Window treatments are an opportunity to add color and style to any room. For a helpful source list, see: High & Low: Drapes, Curtains, and Windowcoverings.

  • Windowfilm Design Public : If you’ve got a small kitchen window with a not-so-great view, consider using removable window film. It’s waterproof (great for a kitchen) and adds some pattern without obstructing the light. Shown: Emma Jeffs PVC-free Window Film, $86.

Add Counter and Storage Space with a Kitchen Cart

Carts are an efficient way to add counter and storage space to your kitchen — a multi-tiered one adds lots of prep surface. For additional good resources see: High & Low: Kitchen Carts.

Top Photo: Mibo Tile Tattoos

Avatar-sarah_coffey Sarah Coffey

Here are more links to removable decorating items – great for temporary living spaces!

Now I’m going on an online shopping spree:

Of all the products we post on Apartment Therapy, the renter-friendly ones are almost always a hit. Things like temporary wallpaper, removable window film, peel-and-stick decals, and flooring coverups make it a little easier to live well in a less-than-perfect rental apartment.


Tempaper Temporary Wallpaper: This removable peel-and-stick paper comes in some very chic patterns that are sold by the sheet. Shown: Tempaper Gio in Gray at Design Public, $75.

Emma Jeffs Window Film: Unlike contact paper, this window film won’t leave a sticky residue on the glass — and it’s much prettier than your average hardware store sticky paper. Shown: Emma Jeffs Adhesive Window Film in Rose, $79 at 2Jane.

Mibo Tile Tattoos: Cover up an ugly backsplash with these waterproof peel-and-stick decals designed for standard tiles. Shown: 4″ Mibo Ventor Tiles in Blue, Set of 6, $18 at 2Jane.

Ferm Living Wall Stickers: This Danish company has some of the prettiest wall stickers we’ve seen, including a new perpetual calendar designed with chalkboard tiles. Shown: Chalkboard Calendar Wall Sticker, $126.50.

Blik Wall Decals: They have a huge selection of peel-and-stick decals, and you can order custom designs as well. Shown: Fernwood Mirror Decal, $55.

Eazy Wallz: This company makes removable wall murals — or large-scale digital prints — that start around 4 x 6 feet. Shown: Beautiful Waterfall Wall Mural, starting at $249.

Chic Shelf Paper: Dress up the inside of your kitchen cabinets or drawers with cooler patterns than you’d find at the local five and dime. Shown: Kitchen Drawer Liners, starting at $2.50 a sheet.

FLOR Carpet Tiles: Their modular carpet tiles are great for covering up ugly hard flooring, but — unfortunately — they’re not meant to be used on top of carpeting. Shown: A Hint and A Whisper Tiles, $6.69/sf.

Eco Woods: If you’ve got an outdoor patio or a bathroom floor that needs to be covered, these water-resistant wood tiles snap together and can rest on top of a hard surface. Shown: Eco Woods Decking Tiles, starting at $10.

Adhesive Hooks: You can find the basic 3M versions of removable adhesive hooks at the Container Store, but if you’re looking for something a little nicer, try these Eva Solo Adhesive Hooks, $35.50 for 3 at Emmo Home.
Top Photo: Tempaper Gio in Gray at Design Public