How to Make a Rental Feel Like Home


As I’ve mentioned, we sort of unexpectedly sold our villa, our own dream home. We were in a downsizing mood, and some buyers appeared, and the next thing we knew we were out on the street.

It is a very nice street, though. We ended up in the Whitland area on West End, where we were lucky to find the most extraordinary home for rent. It’s set up to be the most gracious home, move-in ready — no cheap rental furniture or marshmallow-white walls in these digs. Honestly, it’s like I described my tastes to someone, and they renovated an architecturally significant 1920’s Georgian house based on that conversation. It’s perfect — beyond perfect in places (more on that later).

Perfect doesn’t mean that it’s totally home to me, of course, so I made a few little changes that make this rental feel like it’s really mine.


First, we moved the owner’s furniture out of the pool house, and basically moved our own living room in. It’s got everything our old home had, with high ceilings, a fireplace, and brick floor, and it’s kept us from getting homesick in the slightest.

In the main house, which was so beautifully furnished, we just added a few of our paintings and a few pieces of furniture here and there. All the rest of our furniture went into storage to wait for whatever we end up buying, but we couldn’t stand the thought of having our favorite pieces sitting boxed up, so we put them where they’d bring us joy, and add a personal touch.


The kitchen is impeccably appointed with everything from china to the pots and pans (I didn’t know I needed a waffle maker, but I do, I do!), but I did bring along one of my favorite sets of china that I couldn’t live without for a whole year.

There are people who move into a new house and they want all new stuff. For them, it’s about getting a completely fresh start. But while I love a new adventure, we’ve collected treasures over the years that help make any house a home.

But I’ll admit that there are lots of things about this new home that are rapidly becoming a part of my life. So many, in fact, that I’m already started to dread the day the lease is up.

Mary Spalding is a Nashville based interior designer with over 30 years of experience. She has overseen countless home revitalizations, renovations, and restorations. She can be reached with your projects and ideas at

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