How to make a temporary apartment feel like home

Amy on

Cartoon suitcase.Living in a space with an expiration date on it is kind of a funny thing. Let’s say you’ve relocated for a job, and your new employer is putting you up in short-term housing while you find a more permanent home to settle into. Maybe your old house sold faster than expected, and you can’t move into your new one yet –- or perhaps you’re just in town for a few weeks or months for an assignment or obligation, only to get the heck out of dodge once your time there is through.

Whatever the case, you’ve found yourself living somewhere that’s supposed to be your home for the time being, and yet with all the tacky hotel artwork and not-quite-creature-comforts, it feels like anything but.

Luckily, we’ve got a few easy and inexpensive ideas to make things a bit more comfortable during your stint in the in-between.

The Nose Knows

The quickest, cheapest way to trick your system into relaxing and feeling more at home is to manipulate the scent of your living quarters. If you had a favorite candle, room spray or reed diffuser in the last place you lived, by all means, reintroduce it in your new space. If not, spend a little time choosing a fragrance that you’re instantly drawn to when you smell it for the first time. Of our five senses, scent is the most closely linked to memory, and there really is a scientific foundation to aromatherapy. So stock up on a couple of soy candles or another form of home fragrance in a scent you can’t get enough of, and you’ve taken a simple first step toward personalizing your place.

Nothing Lasts Forever

Table with wall painting behind it.Image credit: Blik

Maybe it started in the store window display industry, or maybe it somehow jumped the shark from explaining things on museum walls, but temporary wall art has begun an ascent toward widespread popularity in the past few years. Brands like Blik and Wallies offer affordable, temporary wall art in the form of vinyl decals with impermanent adhesive on the back. From a few simple wall stickers to add a bit of quirk all the way to an entire wall covered in an intricate pattern, it’s an artistic way to add some personality to an apartment that can be taken down in seconds with zero evidence left behind. With "wall graphics for the commitment phobic" (as Blik calls them) designed by Threadless, Keith Haring and more, you’re bound to find something cool that won’t leave a mark when you leave.

Live a Little

Image credit: Botany Factory

Nothing breathes life into a space (literally) like a little greenery, but you’re no longer limited to scary 1970s ferns and potted plants that look like they belong in your dear grandmother’s living room. Small herb gardens can pull double duty, giving your apartment a touch of green and your food a dash of flavor with a few small snips; hanging terrariums (like this one from Botany Factory) can fill up empty space and lend a calming, Zenlike sensibility to the place where you crash-land at the end of each day. Cactus plants and succulents require little maintenance and are great for those of us with little time and brown thumbs. For the more nurturing among us, plants requiring daily watering give us a sense of ritual and something, however little, to come home to and take care of. Few things are more comforting than that.

To thine own self be true

Like little kids with security blankets, we all have our talismans that give us peace. Whether it’s a favorite pillow, a set of framed photos, or even a particular color or motif that makes us smile, there’s no reason to keep it stuffed in a box or on hold for the next stop during a period of transition. Keeping them close can genuinely affect your happiness on a basic level, helping you stay connected to what always brings you joy. Choosing the five personal belongings most important to you -- and keeping them with you in your temporary space -- can go a long way toward making an intermission feel personal. Even if you pick up something new to match the wall colors or suit the climate wherever you might be, something singular but often used (like a cozy set of sheets or colorful shower curtain) can have a daily, yet meaningful, impact on your mood.

All in all, take a few steps to make sure you’re as comfortable as can be under the circumstances, and know that temporary housing is called that for a reason. If short-term strain equals long-term gain, just imagine how much fun you can have once you’ve finally settled into your next, more permanent home.

Check out more post move tips or interior design tips from Moveline, a radically easier way to move.