How an Artist Made a Rental Feel Like Home – NBC4 Washington

You don’t have to own your home to surround yourself in your personal style.

Renter Erin Shirley, of Silver Spring, Maryland, showed how she used plants, paint and creative choices to turn her apartment into an oasis, in the latest in News4’s 4 Your Home series.

Shirley used more than 40 plants, a gallon of Black Forest Green paint by Benjamin Moore and a combination of splurges and steals to transform her apartment.

“It’s a jungle. The whole place is a jungle, but it’s a calm jungle. It’s an oasis. It’s very relaxing,” the 27-year-old artist said.

Erin Shirley

Erin Shirley sits in the living room of the rental she transformed into a stylish home.

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Erin Shirley

Shirley used plants and art to create a distinctive nook.

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Erin Shirley

Here’s a closeup of a section of the home.

When Shirley hit a year in her apartment, she decided to personalize it. If this resonates with you, start by checking in with your landlord. Once Shirley’s landlord said she could paint, she just “went crazy,” she said.

Shirley rolled on dark green paint in the living room and went even bolder in the bedroom, with the dark Twilight Zone color.

“It is calming,” she said.

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Erin Shirley

Here’s a look at Shirley’s living room.

While paint isn’t permanent, try a small swatch first and see how you like it for a few days.

No money for a headboard? Paint can create the illusion of one.

To decorate, Shirley brought in dozens of plants including philodendron, monstera and pothos, which is especially easy. She recommended starting with something easy to care for.

“Don’t freak out if you kill your first plant. It’s not the end of the world,” she said.

News4’s Erika Gonzalez reports there are easy and free online tools you can use to make sure it’s the right home.

She loves plants so much she has her own business, Asters and Tulips, selling enamel pins and keychains with plant designs on them.

As far as furnishings, Shirley invested in a few quality pieces, including a sofa she spent about $1,500 on. But she knows how to repurpose too. She refreshed an old, worn sidetable that was her mom’s with a bottle of bubblegum pink paint. Now it’s the most meaningful piece in her home.

Decluttering your home starts with the right mindset. News4’s Molette Green lays out four easy steps you can take to turn your home into a haven where you can clear your mind.

From the paint to the plants to the furnishings, Shirley created a vibe. She said other renters can do the same.

“Even though [with] with an apartment, you’re renting it — it is yours. You’re paying for it,” she said.


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