dresser used in the porch

The First House We’ve Ever Rented- Here’s Our Rental Tour

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If you’ve been following our housing story, then you know that we were staying at a friend’s house while we looked for a rental. (I guess that was technically renting but it felt more like living at a friend’s mansion.)

Once that home sold, we entered the real renting market. Viewing homes, submitting applications, deciding the lesser of two evils…all that fun stuff.

Now that we’re {mostly} settled into our temporary housing situation, I thought I would do a rental tour! I count this as our first time renting a home and it’s been an interesting experience, to say the least. When we first started looking for a rental, I was really put off by the whole process, to be honest.

I know this will make me sound like a diva, but all the rentals smelled! They smelled like cigarette smoke, cat pee, or both. And they wanted me to spend how much on it now??

After viewing several different rentals I realized some sort of unsavory smell was just a given. Once I decided to accept that, then we had a space issue. A 5 bedroom home that we were looking for (because we both work from home) wasn’t available in a family-friendly neighborhood.

We weren’t able to find a rental we thought would suit our family in time, so we moved into our friend’s house that was empty (because they were selling it) while we looked for something else.

After a few months, that house sold and we were on the hunt again for a place we could call home for a while. We thought we had secured a super cute place and then the landlord pulled it out from under us to give it to someone else that could rent it longer.

Man, who knew the rental world would be so brutal.

But we found a different one! God brought along a 5 bedroom home in a neighborhood we felt safe in.

So while that was an answer to prayer, ironically enough, it had every sort of smell you could imagine. Weed, cigarette smoke, dog smell, and cat pee smell.

I was manic trying to get rid of it all. Even now I’m living in a constant state of paranoia sniffing everyone’s clothes to see if the smell has transferred to our clothes.

A recent quote from Titus, “Why does our house always smell like vinegar?”


Despite this….interesting experience, I do feel content here. There are some things I miss, like a kitchen with more than 2 countertops, an ensuite bathroom, and taking baths (no way NO HOW am I going to get in the bathtub here). And well, I miss clean air. But we can’t be too picky now, can we?

All jokes aside, there are some pretty cute spaces here! The house we were previously staying at was 4300 sq feet. This one is 1400 sq feet. Surprisingly, I actually prefer something closer to this size.

When you open up the front door, you are greeted with a porch that also doubles as our mudroom. There is a garage, but it’s at a weird angle so pulling in and out is more of a hassle than just parking in the driveway.

dresser used in the porch

coat rack | shoe storage | bistro set

We had to get a few things for this space, such as something for shoes and coats, as we sold what we previously had to the family that bought our home. But other than that, we decorated this space using what we had.

My favorite thing in this room is that vintage dresser. It’s a second-hand find that I’ve had for years, but never had a good spot for. You know what they say, don’t get rid of things you love. If you love it you’ll find a space for it!

We added the brass knobs and now it’s a space to hold mail, Tupperware containers to return to my sister, and other small things like that.

I love this cute little space! It’s a nice buffer before entering the living room.

Speaking of which, next we’ll head to the living room.

porch view from the living room

I put the most effort into decorating the porch and living room, as you’ll soon see haha. I know there are lots of rental hacks to changing floors or using peel and stick wallpaper to make a room look more interesting.

But I wanted it to feel like home without expelling a lot of mental effort or finances that are better off being used on our build. And besides, decor can go a long way!

This living room is small, but I love how homey it feels.

It was tricky organizing the furniture due to the limited space and there being multiple doorways, but I’m pleased with how it turned out.

Depending on which doorway you take, you will either head into my office or into the dining room.

We’ll head to the dining room!

dining room in a rental

And by dining room, I basically mean glorified hallway. We have our table pushed all the way against the window because there would be very little space to walk around it otherwise.

The door you see to the left? Leads to a bathroom. Great placement, right? 😉

But at least there’s a separate place for a table, no matter how small it is. Could be worse!

When you walk through the dining room you’ll find your way to the kitchen. Thankfully, they updated it a few years ago. So though gray is not my style, it’s not icky either.

Not winning any interior design awards here with my storage solutions haha. Functionality wins in this case!

The room right off the kitchen used to be a sunroom. But now it’s our bedroom. It’s a little too close to the action for my personal comfort, but on the flip side, it’s cozy and bright, due to all the windows. (But also extremely hot.)

Our dresser was another thing we sold/left at our last home, so we picked up this little storage unit to act as our dresser. Nothing fancy.

In our next house, I’ll use it for toy storage probably, as we’ll have a walk-in closet and won’t have a need for a big dresser. That’s why I didn’t want to spring for anything too fancy now. It’s a balance of purchasing quality items but also purchasing budget-friendly items to fulfill a short-term need.

Backing out of this room, you’ll find a set of stairs that lead to the boys’ room and the basement.

Skipping the boys’ room because they were very messy at the time of taking these photographs, so we’ll head downstairs to the unfinished basement instead.

When we first viewed this basement, not only did it smell gross, but it looked gross too. But what else can you expect from an unfinished basement in a rental? We put in more effort than one probably does for a rental because we needed this extra space. Because where else could we send the boys to play? To the dining room/hallway? Yeah, don’t think so.

After cleaning and thoroughly sanitizing this area (I found piles of cat poop-booooo), we painted it all green.

It’s still just concrete and cinderblock, but I’ll actually step foot down here now. Now the boys get both a craft and play area.

And we were able to carve out a little area for our couch and tv too.

unfinished basement in a rental

Yep, that’s our TV on a folding table. We real fancy!

Coming back upstairs, I’ll end on my favorite room of the house. My office. 🙂

But just a peek for now, as it will get its own post later!

rental office

I’ve lived in all types of places. Apartments to houses where I could fit 8 of my apartments in.

At the risk of sounding cheesy, you really can find beauty wherever you live. And any unsatisfactory housing situation can be a better experience if you choose to dwell on the positives (speaking to myself here).

I’m thankful that we nailed down this place to call home for the next 6 months to a year.

And after this experience, I know we will feel like royalty in our next house haha!

Up Next: Life Update: Rental Living & Breaking Ground!


Founder and editor of My Chic Obsession, Carolyn is your trusted fashion maven. Carolyn's drive to help others achieve a classic and timeless wardrobe fuels her posts, making mychicobsession.com a go-to resource for style seekers worldwide. Beyond the wardrobe, she resides in the heartland of the Midwest, dreaming up new ideas and raising her two lively boys - her biggest fashion critics.