Surviving & Thriving as a Renter: Chapter 1, Embracing the Challenge

The Challenge:

Could you live in another family’s house for a year, as quasi-renters/house sitters, and live with their furniture, their paint colors, their . . . well, almost everything, while transforming it into something uniquely you?

The Rules:

No permanent changes allowed. No painting. Have to have the house back to its original set-up with reasonable ease at the end of the year.

Game on:

When we first walked through the house we are now renting I did feel at home there-it had a cozy and charming feel to it that I couldn’t put my finger on . . . it just felt right. It didn’t, however, look anything like “us.” Nevertheless, we embraced the above-stated challenge: to live in another family’s house for a year, as quasi-renters/house-sitters and live with their furniture, their paint colors, their . . . well, almost everything, all the while transforming it into something that works for and feel like us.

This has not been a small task. It has taken every ounce of creativity I have been able to eek out of my sleep-deprived mommy brain and every ounce of physical strength I have to design and arrange and create and sew and maneuver furniture with a 17 lb baby strapped to me in a baby carrier.

The result has been well worth the effort! The baby weight is more or less gone and this house is starting to look and feel so much like us that I sometimes have to remind myself that it isn’t ours and that in another 11 months I will have to change it back to its original appearance like Cinderella’s fairy godmother at the stroke of midnight.

Welcome to the Rare & Beautiful Treasures Renter’s Challenge:
Each Chapter of this blog series will feature one room transformed (including before and after pictures) and will hopefully provide plenty of ideas to inspire fellow-renters and even homeowners looking for inexpensive and quick improvements.
(And ok, because I know you are wondering what kind of “befores” we are talking about here, here is a preview of the first project I am going to share over the next few days: the kitchen. See below. Painting the cabinets was not an option . . . total floor space three by five feet.

I promise that beautiful things are in store for my space as well as yours! I know you are doubting me, but that’s ok πŸ™‚ it will make the reveal that much more fun. πŸ™‚

Welcome to our new adventure. So glad to have you along!!


  1. Oh my! Quite the difference from your last house. I can’t wait to see the result. You’ll do wonderful things!

  2. Can’t wait to see your personal touch on this house, and how you make it into your home for a year!

  3. I can’t wait to see the after. No paint and no permanent changes. The only thing I can forsee is a new window treatment, some accessories and a mat in front of the sink. LOL.

    It’s a great challenge though, if forces you to be really creative. πŸ™‚

  4. I’m looking forward to seeing the after pictures! We are missionaries overseas, and people do this sort of thing all the time where they live in someone else’s house as a renter/house sitter, living with that person’s belongings and unable to make permanent changes. We have done it before. πŸ™‚ I am sure I will be inspired!

  5. Erin,
    I know with your special touches it will be beautiful and we will all view the 1st photos with our mouths wide open! LOL

  6. God bless you… I am not quite sure I could do this. The house probably ( knowing it was a temp) but their furniture, not so sure…. I can’t wait to see what you have done. I love your blog and your style.

  7. God Bless you.. I am not so sure if I would be able to do what you are doing. House maybe (knowing it was a temp) but their furniture; probabaly not. I am screaming slip covers!!!!! I love your blog and am looking forward to seeing your designs in this home! πŸ™‚

  8. Can’t wait to see!! This kitchen is exactly like the kitchen my hubs and I lived with as newlyweds…good memories. My fav part about your kitchen is the light switches to the left of the stove…one black and one white. I’m excited to see your creativity!!

  9. Thank you for allowing us to come along on this adventure. I look forward to seeing your creative genius at work in your new home! I know it will be inspiring. πŸ™‚

  10. It’s so neat and tidy and clean…I can see you totally seeing the “home” in the house. Good luck and can’t wait to see what little touches you have up your sleeve to make it yours.

  11. I am so looking forward to your posts. This is great practical info that will transfer to many people. I know it will be beautiful!

  12. I’ll be following with interest because I too am a renter, and making my house something that is uniquely mine, while still retaining our landlord’s original finishes (and the house is theirs…it wasn’t purchased as a rental…so they may come back at some point – I guess my point is, it is very taste specific) has been a challenge. I’ve been pulling it off pretty well…but of course, it’s not exactly me.

    I’m excited to see what you do…at least I didn’t have to work with their furniture. πŸ™‚

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